The concept of flow state has been talked about more often in recent years. To put it simply; In positive psychology, flow, also known colloquially as being in the zone, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. (Thank you Wikipedia for the pleasant sounding and quickly accessible definition) Being in a flow state sounds great, doesn't it? You pretty much know it when you realize that you've been hyper-focused on doing something and often don't even realize that time has passed.
All the distractions we face on a daily basis can wreak havoc on getting into and staying in a flow state. Distraction, ranging from a myriad of cell phone (aka mini-hypnotic computers) notifications to, depending on where you are, people randomly interrupting you often for something of little to no importance. It can feel as though so few people appreciate being in a state of full concentration and the benefits of such, that they act in an ignorant and careless manner and end up being focus and time vampires.
To get into and stay in a state of flow we need to protect our designated focus time with ferocity and unapologetically. If you're an adult and act like a mature human being, surely you can respect someone's need for personal focus and work time and direct you random thought to either Twitter or the Google search box *(DuckDuckGo if you're reluctant to feed the beast your innermost random queries).
What's my personal and optimal method for slipping into and holding onto a flow state? First, take the phone and put it on silent and do not disturb. That's not all that needs to be done with that phone though. You have to make sure that you quiet that thing and then you remove from your direct line of sight and even move it out of arms reach if needed. Kill that impulse to check that black hole sheet of glass for another dopamine hit that more often than not isn't important. If you're concerned about missing an important call, most phones these days have a do not disturb setting that will allow phone calls from contacts listed as favorites after so many retries.
Second, invest in a good set of headphones or earbuds (noise-canceling if possible) and select music that is not distracting and works best for you for the type of work you're going to be performing. I've bounced around so many different types of music throughout the years trying to find what works best and it's always seemed to come back to somewhat repetitive music with no vocals that either fit into the classical or electronic genres. Recently, I've been heavily using/listening to music from Brain.fm and found it to be the most effective music for work that I've ever come across.
Lastly! Have the primary focus of your day already mapped out from the night before. This is hugely effective and greatly aids in reducing decision-related delays. Yes, you will probably have to make adjustments throughout the day because of life and all, but that's fine. What's important is that you've already laid out a roadmap for your day to work off of. Want to take it a step further? Use sticky notes. Get some stacks of those beautiful yellow paper squares and get to writing your todos one by one, at the smallest level, and make sure they're arranged logically for the work you need to do. Then, take the top note and stick somewhere directly in front of you while you're working (monitor bottom bezel, laptop area, directly in front of your keyboard, etc...). Why plow through sticky notes in a digital ruled world? Because they work. Not only does your brain have to do a little more work in physically writing down each todo, but you have a physical representation of that task that's right in front of you as a constant reminder. Once you complete that task you then have the satisfaction of crumpling that thing up and throwing it out or making yourself a nice accomplished pile of completed todos.
Flow states are effective and important, so make sure you give them some respect and protect the benefit of your life's progress.
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