Flow is meant to be natural. We can all flow like a river. We can even surrender to flow. Apparently.
But what happens when that flow is gone? What happens when you can’t help but get lost in an Instagram scroll when you’re mid-task? Or when running doesn’t feel freeing and invigorating but actually like there are knitting needles in your lungs?
Flow state is hard enough to find, but it is even harder to achieve this elusive flow state after a break (whether for lockdown or pleasure).
Any book on flow will tell you the first thing to do to achieve flow is to get rid of all distractions (yep, that means your phone) but is this always necessary?
In fact, your phone can actually be a vital tool in achieving the elusive flow.
The Flow State
Flow is when the activity is effortless, and you feel totally immersed. It is when your productivity is high, and so is your mood! Studies show that flow is a vital sweet spot when a high challenge matches your high skill level.
This explains why;
- Being distraction-free isn’t enough
- Low challenge levels incite boredom leading to mindless scrolling
- Why low skill level for a particular activity can leave you feeling anxious, frozen, and desperately looking for a distraction.
Flow With Your Phone
So, if your flow zone is hard to find, you can use usually distracting devices to your advantage. Here are just three ways to get in the flow with your phone.
- Mind Over Matter
Studies suggest that to reach flow, it needs 15 full minutes of your undivided attention. This is where guided meditation can help. Apps such as Calm and Insight Timer offer quick 15-minute meditations allowing you to regroup. In fact, there are lots of specific meditations, such as productivity, creativity, and focus, helping to build your confidence for the task ahead and leave you feeling in control.
- Get Into The Groove
Music can be a fantastic way to increase your focus and make it easier to achieve a state of flow. Swapping your scrolling for a music app can help you to find the perfect playlist for your task. Research suggests that you should avoid new music and look for repetition to make the flow state easier to achieve.
Think about the beats if you’re exercising, or the mood if you’re creating. Trance, Classical, and Techno can all help to free up vital attention space in your brain.
- Check Your Challenge
Even for the most mundane tasks, you can still create a challenge to get you in the flow state. Habit tracking or goal setting apps such as Streaks or Beeminder can hold you accountable, gamifying the task ahead (and even charging your credit card if you don’t hit your target!). All of this makes it easier to build the challenge to increase the flow.
Remember, your flow state needs a challenge, skill level, and setting to thrive. So, don’t rely on just creating the setting by being distraction-free; look for ways to grow your skill level confidence, and give yourself a challenge too!
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