High Performance Hacks: 11 Ways to Get into Flow State
Mar 11, 2020
Years ago you would have had to do a bit of explaining to someone if you threw around the word "flow" casually in a conversation. But more and more people have learned about this state of mind that leads to enhanced performance, so the question naturally follows: how do I get there, especially if I'm not yet in the position of working in something I am particularly engaged in? Here are eleven simple ways to help get you into a flow state faster:
- Now I know what you might be thinking. Conferences? Where we have to sit through boring talks and cringe worthy "networking" sessions where people throw business cards at each other? Sure, we get it, and no, we aren't talking about those kinds of conferences. We hope you are attending conferences with at least one or two talks that engage you and where you have a chance to have at least one or two conversations with someone who might turn into a referral partner in business or maybe even a friend. It is at these types of conferences that you'll have a chance to get into flow just by being around the halo of talks, chats, and energy.
- At the heart of any mastermind is being around like-minded, growth-oriented people. When you have conversations with such people you seem to stumble across great ideas effortlessly. This is because you've tapped into flow just in conversation. Sometimes people tend to think of flow as something that has to be worked up to rather than something that can be simply triggered by being around the right sort of people.
- It is likely that most people do not look forward to crises or emergencies in their lives, but that isn't to say that flow doesn't get achieved. What is happening during such situations is serious neurochemical activity, as your brain prioritizes what needs to get done and how to do it. A classic physical example of this can be observed whenever we've seen someone lift a vehicle to free someone trapped underneath. "Ordinarily" such a thing would be impossible, but yet the brain and body figure out a way to get it done given the situation. That's flow at work. We tend to associate "flow" with dreamy positive work states, but it also serves us even when we aren't thinking about how to get into it, we just do.
- Just as a crisis can often precipitate flow, so too can prayer and meditation. Such activities have been shown to actually slow down the brain waves and put the brain in a state in which it is prone to high creativity. Now obviously, prayer and meditation are ends in themselves, not just a gateway someone might use to get into flow, but it's an obvious benefit of what are helpful and very human exercises. Prayer and meditation have appeared in many cultures across many time periods of human civilization for a reason.
- Just as with the mental "exercise" of prayer and meditation, the physical exercise of activities like yoga or dance or a general workout can get you into flow. Because we are better acquainted with biochemistry these days we know about the release of endorphins during physical activity and those too can speed your way into flow.
- Big Projects
- When you work on a big project you have to pull together resources you don't ordinarily do - whether they be skills you use or people you consult with. Orienting all these resources towards a common goal leads to alignments in your brain and thought processes that lend themselves to flow. Indeed, any big project should have moments of flow as indicators of possible success.
- Walking, like going to work, shopping, or doing the dishes, can function at a beta state of brain activity, one that has frequent brain waves and is anxiety-prone. But taking back control of such a normal activity and orienting it towards flow takes a bit of effort. If you can practice mindfulness while walking - that is, concentrating on that and that alone, being fully present, feeling each step as you take it, you'll slow down your brain waves and put yourself into a position to enter flow.
- Martial Arts
- While similar to what we've mentioned above regarding exercise, martial arts comes with a bit of difference: progress through levels and adversaries. While yoga and dance are often activities that can be accomplished solo, martial arts training necessarily requires peers and masters. As such, working in such an activity for a period of time, especially given the repetition and focus needed for improvement, puts one into an excellent position to feel flow holistically: flowing through one's body as pieces fall together in the mind.
- Travel disrupts routine and forces us to pay attention to things we might normally miss. If we're diligent and allow ourselves to take stock, particularly through documenting or journaling, you'll find insights and thoughts that simply would not have been available to you in your life at home.
- No, we aren't suggesting fake laughter. Though it isn't a tough argument to make to anyone that laughter is good for you at so many levels. It may not occur to people, however, that it's an easy entrance ramp into flow. You don't have to be friends with comedians - just search on the internet for your favorite comic and laugh away - or take a really funny friend out for coffee. You're smiling just thinking about it.
- Not everyone cares about music deeply, but for many there are certain types of music or various tracks that get you into a particular mood or remind you of a particular time in your life. Gary Vaynerchuk often listens to a particular track or album on a loop when he is working on a project so that he can stay in the zone. Music can be a great aid to your work, not just something you enjoy in your down time.
As you can see, flow has much less to do with "working in your passion" and much more to do with taking opportunities in the every day. Seize what is presented to you and pay attention to your own routines and you'll benefit by entering flow more frequently (and/or recognizing when you do). So will others around you!