Have you ever experienced the sensation of being able to move mountains while carrying out a task? The feeling of being completely focused, moving at lightning-fast speed, and performing at an incredibly high level is truly inspiring. It would be amazing to consistently achieve this state of flow whenever there's a need to complete a task as quickly and efficiently as possible, leading to better results. But where do you begin?
At the recent Women in Tech Global Conference 2023, our Chief Marketing Officer, Iryna Manukovska, shared her secrets for managing personal energy and achieving the coveted flow state to deliver maximum value for your business. This article aims to help you catch up on the discussion and explore the following topics:
How and why to attain a flow state at work
How to plan your daily tasks based on your current energy levels
How to evaluate your team's energy
Meet a flow state
Are you aware that the typical knowledge worker is only productive for 2.3 hours per day on average? Numerous distractions, such as multitasking and communication, cause us to lose focus and become fatigued.
According to Steven Kotler, the flow state is "the ability to feel our best and perform our best," it appears to be the only solution to this problem. While we may experience this state unexpectedly, it's not enough. Business leaders must learn to manage this superpower and teach their colleagues how to achieve it to improve mental health and achieve better results.
“In a state of flow, we accomplish tasks quicker and with better results. Flow involves a feeling of effortlessness that results in pleasure. Flow leaves the doer with an “after-glow” effect from neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, which lower cortisol levels, thereby reducing stress.”
Saving the flow state or how to win in the perennial struggle
At least four factors can kill your flow state: multitasking, disruption, overqualified tasks, and failure. They can easily overwhelm people, leading to procrastination and acting as significant obstacles to new endeavors. However, the key to maintaining a harmonized flow state lies in turning these negative factors into positive ones, effectively turning lemons into lemonade. By responding to your fears properly, you can find your strengths in your weaknesses.
Iryna Manukovska has suggested ways to eliminate the flow state factors by taking opposite actions to find peace of mind and activate critical thinking.
To tackle multitasking, try focusing on a specific task without distractions like phone calls, social media, or instant messaging.
Combat disruptions by setting the same time/place/triggers for the same task. It will help you return to normalcy and feel more grounded.
To prevent overqualified tasks from becoming a burden, try estimating your time and effort and breaking the task down into smaller pieces. Finding the optimal ratio that works for you and your business is vital.
And lastly, don't be afraid to fail or make mistakes. Your strength lies in embracing failure and learning from your mistakes.
"Power your battery"
We all aspire to be productive like well-oiled machines, but there are times when even getting started on a task can seem like a daunting challenge. It is where it becomes crucial to assess the state of your emotional battery. Just like a car won't go far without fuel, you need to determine how much energy you have left in the tank and seek out the proper resources to refuel.
When you're feeling emotionally drained, it's best to focus on small, simple tasks that give your mind a chance to rest and recharge. It doesn't mean you should spend all day lounging in bed and watching TV shows (although that can be an option at times), but rather that you should continue to move forward with your daily business while being mindful of the scale of your efforts. If you push yourself too hard without considering your emotional state, you risk burning out sooner rather than later.
The principle of evaluating one's emotional battery can also be extended to assessing the emotional state of your colleagues. By doing so, you can gain insight into whether they can drive the business forward as efficiently as you are and determine what they may be lacking to achieve a flow state. This information can help you provide the necessary support and resources to help your team members reach their full potential.
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Top tips and techniques to achieve a flow state
Track your tasks
To optimize your productivity and emotional well-being, tracking which tasks drain your energy and which ones bring you rewards is helpful. Keep a notebook or task-tracking system and use “+” and “-” to indicate which tasks fall into each category. Look for patterns and take note of any tasks that consistently leave you feeling drained or energized.
Pleasure comes first
Prioritize the most exciting and rewarding tasks at the top of your to-do list. Studies have shown that our brain rewards us with an 11% energy cashback when we engage in activities that we find enjoyable and fulfilling.
Have a break
Remember to take regular breaks throughout the day to recover and unplug yourself. Incorporate physical activity and hydration into your routine, as these can help boost your mood and energy levels.
Find reasons to be proud
Celebrate your daily achievements, no matter how small they may seem. Don't be too hard on yourself, and recognize that even simple tasks like feeding your cat or answering an email can be actual accomplishments. By focusing on the positives and taking care of yourself, you'll be better equipped to tackle challenges and achieve your goals.
The final word
Achieving a flow state can lead to increased productivity and improved mental health. To attain a flow state, it's important to eliminate factors that can disrupt it, evaluate your emotional battery, and track tasks to prioritize the most rewarding ones. By taking regular breaks and finding reasons to be proud, you can achieve a harmonized flow state and reach your full potential. Remember, your mood drives your attitude, your positive attitude leads to better results, and better results fuel the success of your business.