A life of flourishing and well-being consist of five elements: 1) Living with positive emotions; 2) engaging in activities and hobbies that make you forget about time, 3) good relationships, 4) activities that contribute to a meaningful life and 5) getting something done, that is, accomplishment.
Today we focus on element two: Engaging in activities that make you forget about time – also known as “flow.” But what is “flow”? When you’re in the state of flow, you are completely focused on the task at hand; forgetting about yourself, about others, about the world around you; and lose track of time.
A state of “flow” is key to happiness – even in retirement. “Flow” contributes to a life of flourishing. You achieve your goals. It means getting key projects done rather than answering a bunch of emails, making a lot of phone calls, and shuffling paperwork all day long. And by losing yourself in them, you enjoy yourself more. You reduce stress while increasing quality output. You achieve things rather than just keeping busy.
Here are some steps to achieve flow:
Choose work or a hobby you love. If you dread a task, you’ll have a hard time losing yourself in it. If your job is made up of stuff you hate, you might want to consider finding another job. Or consider seeking projects you love to do within your current job.
Find a time when you have lots of energy and can concentrate. For me, it is between 9h00 and 13h00. Evenings work well too for many people. Whatever time you choose, it should also be a peak energy time for you.
Clear away distractions. Turn off distracting music unless you find music that helps you focus, Turn off all notifications on your phone and email. One interruption of a phone call can take up to 15 minutes to get into flow again! Try to keep your focus on your task with no distractions, and if your task has been chosen well (something you love, something important, and something challenging), you should lose yourself in flow.
Flow will take some practice, from finding a quiet, peak time for yourself, to clearing distractions, to choosing the right task. And especially keeping your focus on a task for a long time. But each time you fail, try to learn from it. Each time you succeed, you should also learn from it. And the more you practice, the better you’ll get.
Losing yourself in flow is an amazing thing, in my experience. It feels great to be able to really pour yourself into something worthwhile, to make great progress on a project or important task, to do something you’re passionate about. Flow reduces stress and contributes to a life of flourishing. Enjoy.