Flow State: The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide To Get In 'The Zone', And Stay There, in 2019
"Experience the activity as intrinsically rewarding." - Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi
The 'Flow State' is when an individual is so engrossed and immersed in a task that they experience a state of energised focus and enjoyment in the process.
It is common for artists, musicians and professional athletes to induce 'flow state', also known as 'being in the zone'.
It is also common for students, academics and professionals to go into a 'flow state' once they get stuck into a large project.
The question is though, how do you get into 'the zone'?
Luckily for you, we had our team of productivity experts on hand to guide us through the process...
Do you have any methods that help you induce flow state that we haven't talked about? Let us know in the comments!
Table of contents
What is the flow state
Are you a surfer, a musician or maybe a student?
Chances are that you will have experienced the flow state at some point in your life.
When you are writing an essay and you are completely absorbed by that task, you don’t check the watch every 15 minutes, you don’t think about taking the next coffee break or about why you need to be writing this essay in the first place.
Yet, the activity does not cause you distress or makes you feel uncomfortable.
Or maybe you play the piano and what oftentimes has felt like tedious practice, now seems to make sense. Your focus is on the notes, the piano keys and the sound.
A common example of the experience of the flow state is that of athletes, in particular surfers.
High-performance sports require an enormous amount of focus and integration of body and mind.
At the same time, athletes will have practised a particular movement over and over, which, as we will see soon, is crucial for the flow state.
This state of calm and focus, allowing for high performance in a relaxed setting is referred to as flow. The task or action performed itself is fulfilling.
People seek to experience such a flow state as it proves to be a hyper-productive phase in almost any task that you attempt.
If you are finding it difficult to access the flow, the good news is that it is not exclusive to professional musicians and athletes.
In fact, everybody can be in the flow, be it at work, school, university or gym.
In this blog post, we will discuss how to induce the flow state and how to stay there using six simple tips.
Below you will find the ultimate step-by-step guide to help you induce the flow state and to help you to stay there.
How to induce the flow state
1. Skills, challenge level and clear goals
A useful tip is to set yourself clear goals of what you want to achieve at a particular time. This can also help increase the challenge of a particular task.
A key element of the challenge level, the idea is that you have a high stake in performing well.
You often see this with musicians performing live - it could be Beyonce singing in front of hundreds of thousands of screaming fans or the busker you pass on the way back from work.
A musicians livelihood is dependent on their performance - if they perform badly, they won't be booked for more gigs, or be embarressed in front of a big crowd. If we're talking about buskers then nobody would hand over their money, meaning they would go home empty-handed.
This pressure to perform, and to perform well, is often the deciding factor in inducing flow-state.
An actionable tip that you could take from this is to make yourself more accountable in your tasks. Set strict deadlines and let people know when they are.
For example, several years ago when I was completing my undergraduate dissertation, I had a list of about 10 friends and family who I asked to proof my work.
I came up with deadlines for each chapter and let all of them know when to expect it.
This added pressure of mini-deadlines pushed me through certain bouts of procrastination so I could save face with my friends and family.
2. Clear constructive feedbackYou should always be open to constructive feedback.
Not only that, but you should also always be open to giving others constructive feedback.
This is one of the quickest ways to increase your skill level, check what's going right, what's going wrong and where you can improve.
Always look for feedback - from colleagues, bosses, friends, family, tutors, professors etc.
3. Awareness of self and the action
Deep embodiment is generally defined as the integration of the senses and the general physical and mental awareness of yourself and the action.
Luckily for us, it's a much simpler concept than it sounds.
In a nutshell, in order to execute your plans, you need to be aware of your own strengths, weaknesses, and aware of your environment.
The first part, being aware of your own strengths and weaknesses is such a valuable exercise to do (and do regularly).
For example, when I was at university I was really bad at taking notes - my handwriting was messy, and I preferred to listen to the lecturer than write down everything they said.
So, when it came to revise for exams, knowing this was a weakness of mine, I partnered up with a friend who was great at writing notes.
My strength in revision is coming up with innovative ways to remember hard concepts - such as funny anagrams, parodies of songs and things like that. My study partner was terrible at this - and he knew it.
So we traded my methods for remembering difficult concepts for his notes, meaning that both of our revision was much more effective and productive.
The second part of deep embodiment relates to the environment.
You need to figure out your most productive environment - it may be in your house, your bedroom, in the library, in a cafe. It takes a bit of trial and error until you find your place.
Obviously, if you are a student then this is a lot easier to action.
If you're working, sometimes you don't have a choice of where you work.
If you know that you are way more productive working from home, you should try and take steps to make this happen, even if it is part-time.
Being aware of your strengths, weaknesses and which environment you perform best in are all crucial parts in enabling yourself to enter the flow state.
Once you are in the flow state, you may wonder...
How to stay in the flow state
1. Awareness of the nature of the flowIt is crucial to understand that you will not remain in the same flow state forever.
As Steven Kotler explained in the above video, there is a flow cycle.
Experiencing the different parts of the cycle may indeed be frustrating if you’re not aware of them.
Many of us might expect to easily slip in and out of the cycle. However, that is not exactly how it works.
Kotler speaks about the four stages of struggle, release, flow, and recovery. Think back to the beginning, where we discussed the need for a high level of skill.
The phase of struggle is related to this idea.
When facing a problem, the solution might not come to you directly and working on resolving the issue and developing a skill set may feel uncomfortable and frustrating.
The release refers to the idea of ‘taking your mind off’ - you will have your own strategy for this. Maybe you would enjoy chatting with a friend or going for a walk or maybe you would prefer to do sports.
Only afterwards, you will experience flow.
The recovery phase that sets in after the flow is necessary to start the cycle again.
Again, this phase may feel frustrating as you would potentially prefer to stay in the flow.
While going through this cycle is part of the flow process, there are ways to prolong the actual flow phase and, more importantly, making the process as a whole a more meaningful one.
In fact, being aware of the different steps of the cycle will give you the ability to process your perception of the mental states and the flow experience (just how being aware of the process of lucid dreaming can help you induce a lucid dream and prolong it).
Being aware that the flow phase itself is only part of a wider context might make you appreciate the other aspects of the cycle as well.
Understanding that all stages involved as well as the previous practice is valuable could enrich your experience of the recovery phase after flow.
6. Time management
If you have given yourself a very limited time window to be in the flow state, it may be difficult to get there in the first place and you might have to leave it before you’d like.
If you are planning to write an essay, make sure you give yourself enough time to go through the stages of flow and maybe even plan a rewarding activity afterwards if it helps you to get going - although you may find the process itself rewarding enough.
If you set yourself deadlines, as was suggested above, make sure they are way before the official deadlines to make sure you definitely have enough time.
Be aware of your needs to take a break, have a drink of water and all those very basic things that enable us to function in the first place. Essentially, you want to be in a position where nothing interferes with you entering the flow state.
Supplements to help you get into the flow stateThe key to flow is focus and concentration and if you are struggling with that aspect, one of the easiest and most certain way to induce flow state is to try supplements.
It is our belief that BrainZyme® is the best supplement to help you get into the flow state currently on the market anywhere in the world.
Watch: Reasons to Choose BrainZyme®.There are four main reasons why we think this. BrainZyme is: effective, safe, legal and great value for money.
BrainZyme is Effective
- Backed up by real science.
- Rated 4 stars or over by 91% of customers.
- Real, tangible effects within one hour.
- Excellent write-ups by leading doctors, nutritionists and the media.
Watch: BrainZyme® Customer Review Compilation Video
BrainZyme is Safe
- Only uses naturally-sourced and vegan ingredients that have had a long history of scientific study.
- Excellent customer support team on hand to guide you through the right dosage, and how to make the most out of BrainZyme®.
- Our testing is also safe - we do not test on animals and are completely cruelty-free.
BrainZyme is Completely Legal
- All of BrainZyme's products are completely legal around the world.
- Completely safe for competitors. BrainZyme offers Informed Sport batch testing (the most intense lab testing available anywhere in the world: guaranteed 100% safe for high-performance World Anti-Doping Agency use).
BrainZyme is Great Value for Money
- Starting at 33p per capsule - much cheaper and more effective than a daily cup of coffee, other supplements or pharmaceutical study drugs.
- Save money - with our value packs you can save extra money.
- 100% satisfaction guarantee - if you are not happy with BrainZyme for whatever reason, you can return them to us for a full refund.
- Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2014). Toward a Psychology of Optimal Experience. In M. Csikszentmihalyi (Ed.), Flow and the Foundations of Positive Psychology: The Collected Works of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pp. 209–226). Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands. doi.org/10.1007/978-94-017-9088-8_14
- Csikszentmihalyi, M., & Csikszentmihalyi, I. S. (1992). Optimal Experience: Psychological Studies of Flow in Consciousness. Cambridge University Press.
- Jackson, S. A. (1995). Factors influencing the occurrence of flow state in elite athletes. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 7(2), 138–166. doi.org/10.1080/10413209508406962
- Nakamura, J., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2014). The Concept of Flow. In M. Csikszentmihalyi (Ed.), Flow and the Foundations of Positive Psychology: The Collected Works of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pp. 239–263). Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands. doi.org/10.1007/978-94-017-9088-8_16