“In the zone” “On a roll” “In the groove.” No matter what you call it, we all know what it’s like to be in a highly productive state. Ideas seem to just flow, time seems to stand still. It’s as though…(dare I say it)…you enjoy doing your work.
This kind of work is great for our time management because we are the most efficient and productive. However, it can often be difficult to transport ourselves into this productive state when we need it most!
This concept is referred to as “flow” by a Hungarian psychologist named Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (whose name is harder to spell than it is to pronounce.) He talks about flow as a period of “completely focused motivation,” and he even has three tips about how to reach this highly-desirable state.
1) Be involved in an activity with a clear set of goals
Working toward a goal is far more motivating than simply meandering through your day. Be sure to set both short-term and long-term productivity goals for yourself so your work is purposeful.
2) Have a good balance between the perceived challenges of the task at hand and your own perceived skills
In other words, if you have the confidence that you can complete a task, you’re far more likely to do it efficiently. If the task is too easy, you’ll be bored. If the task is too difficult, you’ll be frustrated. The path to productivity is one that has just the right amount of challenge.
3) The task at hand must have clear and immediate feedback
Few people like to work just for the sake of working. Seek frequent feedback. Is your task producing the desired result? Better to find out at the beginning of a task that you need to change course, rather than waiting until it’s finished to realize you made a mistake!
While these three factors may not always be within your control, the more you can harness them the better. Optimizing your “flow” causes your work to be completed much faster.
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Photo Credit: Dan