Access to Flow State
Getting into the zone needs practice, but it’s not hard. A big misconception people have is that flow state happens magically, depending on lucks. In actuality, you can prepare for it, and access to the zone whenever you want. We want to be in the flow state not only because it’s highly productive for us to improve our skills, but also reaching our potential. We can all access to this prestigious gift whoever installed in us. Regardless of any skills in the world, running, writing, singing etc, you can apply these principles to access the flow state between you and the skill. With the last article, growing a passion, being able to drift in the flow state will speed up your learning and executing processes.
The preparation is awfully easy. Get proper rest. All you need is acceptable amounts of sleep for mind and body to rest, then you’re good to go.
So, how do we define a flow state and knowing that we’re in the zone of it?
If you’re concentrating to the craft or the task you’re performing, you’re in the zone.
Everybody can do it, it’s easier than you think. Frankly, Don’t think, just start the task and you’ll find out yourself.
But to share my experience when I’m in the zone, there are two facts happen every time.
– engross in the task.
You will experience a time track of loss. Like reading, when you read, you have to concentrate on the story rather than thinking of what time it is. It’s the same feeling as you get into the flow state.
– Consciously ask questions and try to improve it better in any way.
By asking questions, you actively engage in the process. If you’re a musician, you don’t expect to get improvement merely repeating the same four chords every time practicing, and hoping for the time pass will equal to an excellent outcome. Unfortunately, not the fundamental principle of this world we live in.
The sooner you manage to get into the flow state when crafting your skill, preferably every time, the better dividends you’ll get in life later on. Because you’re not only training yourself in concentrating a task, but also training your brain to adopt certain principles. These principles can be applied in other areas of your life, escorting you to achieve your life goals.
Gain an access point in the skill that you find comfortable with. You’ll always need an access point for something. For instance, before starting your work for the day, you might need a cup of coffee to wake the heavy-eyed brain. Or like re-visiting the book you’ve read after a week without touching, you’ll need to read at least a few pages back and possibly the intro to get back the scenes where you left off.
Sometimes, when I get stuck or not sure what to write after a short abandonment, I’d have an exercise called ‘free writing for 10 minutes’. The rule is I have to write. As long as I start writing, initiate the action, the writing process can move forward again. The access point is a point for you to get back with the skill where you left off last time and prepare what you’ll be doing later on.
Stay in the zone?
Find a suitable environment, and be willing to give up your phone or any social contact for a while. In the flow state, it only needs you and the skill, not the person that you spoke with in the morning. If things are blocking you from being in the flow state, they are distractions. Eliminate them.
Getting treats ready and a bottle of water.
Whatever the skill you’re crafting, the task you’re performing, you just have to stay hydrated. With the treats, like chewing gums or pieces of chocolate, depending on your diet, can have two positive impacts if not overtaken. First, it acts as continual rewards for you’re efforts, so you’re more motivated and willing to come back for the repetitions. Secondly, the sugar, glucose, will be the fuel source to enhance short-term memory, thinking, and mental ability. But because of it, don’t rely on eating sugary products to help you concentrate all the way, it’s counterproductive.
I like drinking sweet drinks instead of treats if available, it serves me the sugar benefit and not getting too much guilt for eating sweets. And as always, I’ll have a bottle of water on my side ready to go. These little rewards will stop you from finding excuses, a way for you to stay in the zone.
Take breaks in between.
You have to take breaks no matter how engrossed you are. Preferably in nature, like parks. It helps to put your mind to rest, letting your brain to function at the back of your head with the new information you’ve just made. You, on the other hand, can walk around, free from anything else. No need to hurriedly think your to-do list or what you believe important tasks. Just simply relax and look around, listen to the birds sound if possible, close your eyes if you feel like it, be in the moment rather than thinking too much ahead. If you start thinking other things again however, you’re forcing your brain to perform another work, not giving a chance to rest.
Neurologically speaking, the reason for taking a break is to allow your brain switches from the focused to diffuse mode. An excessively long focused mode will not make a difference in problem-solving, learning new patterns for your brain to adopt or the enhancement of repetitions. It’s the switching back and forth allows your brain to complete a set of tasks. Take learning for example, you’d need the focused mode to learn a new subject, and execute specific tasks. But you’d also need the diffuse mode to let your brain to learn the new and abstract concept, making neuron connections with the information. Only by knowing and using both sides interchangeably can learn a new subject well.
How long a break is, up to you.
After the flow state, then what?
Record the feeling and moment afterwards if necessary.
It’s certainly up to you. There will be no problem for you to get into the zone if you’re well rested, having clear time management beforehand to kill unnecessary worries, eliminate all the distractions you know they are, and being able to focus on your skill doing. But if you want to get deeper, be more precise about your state of being in the zone, you can start experimenting yourself with a review after you’ve done the session. You can do it at night, or a day after, as long as you remember the texture of the situation. It’s the reflection helps you to do better next time if you start recording.