How to Induce the Flow State in the Workplace

flow state

Having a good performance at work is desirable for most office workers. Good performance in the workplace is related to receiving more bonuses, increased salaries, and even promotions.

But, maintaining a good performance would be a challenge for most employees, and may even cause stress. Stress is associated with burnout, illness, and low level of mental health. Both organization and the employee must find a path to good performance without costing individuals’ well-being. So, how do you keep a healthy good performance in the workplace?  

Entering the flow state is one way to keep your performance and also not be stressed about it. In this article, you will understand what the flow state is, its many benefits, and how to achieve this state.  

The flow state

In 1976, Csikszentmihalyi Mihaly, a Hungarian-American Psychologist observed an artist working on a painting, single-mindedly, fully focused on what he was doing, and ignoring his hunger, fatigue, and discomfort.   

This phenomenon he called flow — a state of optimal experience and maximal concentration. In this state, you lose your self-consciousness and temporal awareness of your surroundings. You are also able to feel total control, effortlessness, and complete concentration on the present moment (here and now).  

The flow state is known to have a significant positive effect on performance, especially in work activities. This state allows you to show greater performance under the task that you are working on and other tasks such as helping colleagues or additional projects voluntarily. Other benefits from inducing flow are increased satisfaction in work and improved well-being. Because of the flow state, you will be able to increase your skillset and in the meantime, complete challenging tasks, making you feel more competent in your work. 

How to enter and foster the flow state

To enter the flow state, you must understand the basic principles of flow. According to Mihaly, there are three main components of flow: clear goals, clear feedback, and a balance between the challenge and skills. Here are steps to enter and foster the flow state:

Set goals 

This means you need to understand what the task structure is and what you want to achieve. It has been known that having a clear goal enhances self-direction and helps to fulfill the needs for autonomy and competence, which cause more flow (Weintraub, Cassell, & DePatie, 2021). You can use goal-setting techniques to channel your attention to your work, improving your concentration and reducing unproductive work. 

Focus on things that you’re currently doing 

Focus your attention on what is in front of you and what you need to do. This is the fundamental component of the flow state. Focus of attention helps to promote a positive flow state.   

You can improve your focus by adopting an external focus. External focus means focusing on the effect of body movements. An external focus avoids the disruptive effects of self-focus on the monitoring and control of movement (Weintraub, Cassell, & DePatie, 2021).  

Avoid interruptions 

It is important to note that a flow state only happens when you focus on one thing that you are doing. Multitasking on your task is interrupting the flow and thus reducing your performance.   

You can put on your earphone and play flow state music, or simply put away your phone and tablet. Remember what you need to do and focus on what you are doing.

Keep up with the practice

The key aspect of flow is the balance between challenge and skill. Performing the same task every day without any challenges only leads to boredom. You should stretch your skill with each task every day to achieve flow.   

Balancing challenge and skill also means you need to upgrade your capability in each task. Therefore, accepting a task that is a little more advanced than your skills would be necessary to be in the flow state and foster it.

Finish your task at the end of the day 

It sometimes becomes a habit where employees leave their tasks for the next day. But, a study found that leaving a task for tomorrow just makes you more anxious and thus disturbs your performance. By finishing tasks every day, or by simply meeting your progress goal will help you to experience the flow state and also improve your well-being. 

In conclusion

Entering and maintaining the flow state in the workplace is important for both your performance and well-being. Supervisors can also contribute to fostering employees’ flow state by giving more constructive feedback and coaching to improve employee skills and performance. Fostering a flow state in the workplace not only benefits employees in the long term but also ensures company success.

To learn more about the flow state, check out the Happiness Science Labs. The lab produces courses, certifications, videos, podcasts, and other learning resources using the research of the Institute for Life Management Science. Visit Happiness Science Labs today.

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Photo by Bethany Legg on Unsplash

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