- Do you have a constant level of anxiety that’s present in your day and feel like you just can’t stay on the task at hand? Maybe you sit down and start working on something but within a few minutes you get distracted and get really frustrated with yourself. The key to overcoming this problem is to get into a flow state. In this episode I’ll teach you how to access flow states in your life and achieve far more with much less effort.
- What exactly is a flow state? It’s an experience of peace, tranquility and calm, while you’re working, where you’re completely engrossed in the task at hand. Everything feels effortless and you’re operating from your zone of genius.
- To access the flow state I use a breathing ritual with a pre-recorded soundtrack of my own voice. I let go of the past, let go of the future, become curious about the work ahead and centre myself in the present moment.
- This is extremely powerful and after using it I feel so much more relaxed and clear, plus I’m less distracted and not prone to just jumping on social media.
- If you do get distracted again, just know that you can reactivate this flow state at any point you want – all you have to do is create space, breathe and reactivate the state.
I’m sure you’ve heard of sports stars being in the zone where they’re totally on top of their game, time just flies by and nothing can disrupt their focus. They’re hitting every shot, they’re winning games. And you may have heard of that flow state when it comes to just ordinary, everyday people about trying to activate a sense of flow, where you can relentlessly focus on whatever you’re doing and not be distracted much like a sports star does, or perhaps you haven’t heard of this, and you’ve only associated with sports and didn’t realize that a state of flow is something that you can activate within you to work more effortlessly at a higher level of production and essentially win more.
Hi, I’m Eric Partaker and I help CEOs, entrepreneurs and individuals breakthrough barriers such as not being able to work in a state of flow so that they can achieve their higher potential and in this instance, so that they can learn how to activate a flow state, how to tap into that sense of peace and calm, like their favorite sporting star in the heat of the moment in a winning moment in their everyday life within their work. And today I want to talk to you about how you can both create a flow state and benefit from it and how you can do that regularly to achieve far more with much less effort and with much less anxiety and a lot more peace, because if you’re anything like me, I mean, when I think about 10 years ago, I had this constant level of anxiety to my day, I’d sit and start working on something. And within a few minutes I’d be distracted. And then I get really frustrated with myself.
You know, I’d sit there and kind of berate myself wondering, “why can’t I just stay focused?” Why can’t I stay focused as long as I would like to get this done, why is this dragging on longer than it should? And it’s really frustrating. And if you’re feeling that just recognize that you can learn how to create a sense of flow, a state of flow, and you can combat that. You can get out of that. You can, over time, prevent that from even happening anymore, as I’ve done. Now, the first thing that we need to think about, well, what exactly is a flow state? So think of a flow state as a period of peace or calm or tranquility while you’re working, where you’re totally engrossed in what you’re doing, you lose all sense of time. You don’t feel any resistance at all.
The work feels quite effortless, or you might even feel like you’re having genius moments as you’re doing your work. You’re working in perfect symmetry with whatever it is that you’re doing. That’s the state of flow we’re talking about. It’s like a vacation in the present moment where you’re not worried about what’s happened in the past. You’re not worried about what’s going on in the future. You’re just relaxed and calm in the present. This is something I actually learned from Neil Fiore who wrote a book called The Now Habit. He gave me this wonderful phrase, “take a vacation in the present moment”, because when you’re in a flow state, all that guilt about what you didn’t do in the past, or that anxiety about what you haven’t done in the future just disappears completely. You’re just focused on what you’re doing, and that’s a state that you can both activate and reactivate throughout your day.
That’s our second point today – how do you actually create a flow state? How do you activate one? And then how do you reactivate it throughout the day? Well, the way I went about it is by literally creating a voice recording that I put onto my own phone, which recorded me, taking myself through a series of deep breaths. And in the first three deep breaths of that recording, I just simply told myself to relax calmly in my chair. Let the weight escape from my body; feel that I’m just one and grounded in the chair over the course of three breaths. Then in the recording in the next three breaths, I simply said, let go of the past, choose to not identify with it. And then I said in the next three breaths, let go of the future. The future hasn’t happened yet. And in the next three breaths realize how easy it is to be centered here right now in the present using Neil’s words, “take a vacation in the present moment”. And in the next three breaths, I said, begin to become energized and curious about the quality work ahead. And with the final three breaths, I allowed myself to come out of that state, but I was literally listening to myself in a recording, which was a sequence of those three breath statements to activate a sense of calm.
And as that recording played, I just closed my eyes and I listened to me giving myself direction. So I listened to, okay, three breaths. I’m going to relax three more breasts. I’m gonna let go of the past. Three more breaths. I let go of the future. Three more best breaths. I enjoy the present moment. Three more breaths. I get excited and curious about the quality work ahead. And then three more breaths coming out of that, into that flight of stairs, into that flow state. And when I started to do that before a period of quality work, before starting a period where I wanted an extreme degree of focus, I went into that period of work with so much more calm. I felt so much more relaxed, clear, not distracted and not thinking about other things, not prone to just jumping on social media. And I was able to work so much more productively and efficiently, but many times, especially in the beginning, I would become distracted again. And I would start thinking about other things, but I had that recording there.
And so I would use it to reactivate the flow state, if you will. I would, once again, listen to that recording, call myself again and then restart again with that sense of calm into whatever it was that I was working on in the moment. So we need to know what is a flow state? Why should we be pursuing one? We can use our own voice in a recording to both activate a flow state and reactivate it as needed. But then the third thing that we really need to take into account when we’re trying to pursue a state of flow is the power of choice. There will be a myriad of activities that you do throughout your day, which you may not like doing. But if you go into an activity in a state of discontent, it’s going to create resistance.
It’s going to be difficult to work on whatever that is in a state of flow. I mean, who wants to do, for example, their expenses? Nobody wants to do that. Who wants to do a tax return? Nobody wants to do that. Who wants to fold clothes? I mean, nobody wants to do these things, but you can at least choose to write. And by choosing you can reduce the anxiety associated with it. And by choosing you’re better, you’re able to work in that state of flow. So after you’ve activated a flow state, you can then choose to work on that test. So for example, if you’ve done your own recording, where you’re listening to your voice and activating that state of flow for you, as you come out of that, you can then say, and now I choose to work on my taxes, my expenses, whatever that thing is, that is not absolutely on the top of your list for wanting to do.
You can still choose to do it. And the power of that choice is going to make whatever that activity is, run more smoothly. And you’ll be more likely to do that in a flow state, which means you won’t have any anxiety associated with it.
Last but not least. We have to remember to manage our energy. This is super important for maintaining states of flow throughout the day. If we’re tired, if we haven’t taken enough breaks, if we don’t feel energized, if we’re not generating energy throughout the day, then it’s harder to both activate and stay in a flow state when we’re working on whatever it is that’s occupying our day. So when it comes to energy management – and I’ve talked about this in other videos as well – the first thing we do is make sure we’re getting our eight hours of sleep. Next thing we want to do is really spike our energy for the day with a bit of exercise in the morning.
It’s great to start the day with a bit of mental clarity from a meditation point of view, and then just make sure you’re taking frequent breaks throughout the day. So you can use that flow state technique to activate the flow state before you begin a power period of quality work, which you’re choosing to do, remember. And then after you’ve done a period, say 50 minutes, take a 10 minute break and do that to make sure that the gas in the tank isn’t running out or being used up too quickly.
Last but not least – I want to leave you with a story. So as a coach for CEOs, entrepreneurs, and individuals, one of my clients recently was battling procrastination. And we really focus on having him learn how to both create and activate states of flow. Now he had a special issue as well because he was constantly forgetting to do it. And so we had this little simple technique where in his calendar at the start of the day, he had an appointment that literally said flow state activation. So he would activate the flow state at the start of his day. And then in front of every meeting appointment that he had, where it was a piece of work that he was working on his own, he would make meetings with himself to work on, say, his taxes or presentation or whatever he would put. So F S / presentation, F S / newsletter, just to remind himself before he started working on whatever that project was, activate the flow state, using his own recorded voice with that deep breathing technique, taking him from a state of relaxation to letting go of the past, letting go of the future, relaxing in the present. Getting curious about the quality work ahead, opening up to it in that moment, and then choosing to do it. Whether or not he liked to is a different thing. Just choosing to work on this, I choose to work on this.