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Flow: your recipe to happy work

Your guide to creating flow

What is ‘flow’?

Flow is the holy grail for happy work. Flow means you are completely and fully immersed in what you are doing. It energises you. Time runs away from you. When you step out of a flow state you feel deeply rewarded and satisfied.

When you’re in flow, you don’t have the head space to feel self-conscious or anxious. If that wasn’t enough, your confidence grows after the event because you grow and stretch your capabilities. You feel energised and have greater confidence in your abilities.

This is why I talk to my clients about flow. A lot.

The Flow Recipe

The beauty of the Flow Recipe is that it can be used creatively and applied to any area of your life. Have you ever find yourself getting into an activity you would normally find boring like doing your accounts or doing a spring clean? It’s probably because you used the Flow Recipe. And here it is:

  • We know we have a chance of completing the task at hand. If it seems impossible, the task is going to seem pointless and futile. If you want to embark on a challenging task, try breaking it down into smaller, achievable tasks.
  • Find the sweet spot of difficulty. If an activity is too easy it’s boring. Equally, if something is too difficult you’ll probably feel demotivated and give up. Think creatively about how you might create this sweet spot of challenge. For tasks that you find mundane and dull, think about how you can introduce a time constraint or even a game to make it more challenging for you.
  • Clear goals and immediate feedback. Vagueness and confusion around what you’re doing is the enemy of flow. Do you know the steps you need to take in order to succeed in your task, whether it’s perfecting a piece on the piano or writing a report for a stakeholder?
  • Break-up with passivity. Passive activities like watching TV often bring the illusion of relaxation and entertainment. But when did you last feel deeply satisfied and enriched after watching a TV show? Exactly. I love Netflix as much as the next person but these days I tend to prioritise reading for relaxation as I can still enjoy the rewards of feeling immersed and lost in a book.
  • Avoid interruptions. You need to be able to fully concentrate on what you’re doing in order to enter a flow state. Put your phone away, implement some loving boundaries with those around you and dedicate a decent stretch of time to immerse yourself in whatever you’re doing. In doing so,  you’re weakening any addiction to distraction and strengthening your capacity for deep, rewarding work.

Try it out

Now that you’ve learned the Flow Recipe, what can you apply it to next? Your work? A hobby? The housework?

Whatever it is, if you commit to creating 10% more flow in your day, every day, you’re bound to feel the ripple effect of greater confidence and energy in every area of your life. You might have to think outside the box and experiment, but the results are well worth it.

I would love to hear how you’ve applied the Flow Recipe to your life and how you’ve benefited from it so feel free to comment below or get in touch on info@sallyheady.co.uk.

Recommended reading:

  1. ‘Flow’ By Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
  2. ‘Deep Work’ by Cal Newport
2 March 2016