Being in a state of flow

For a while now I’ve been really interested in learning more about getting into a state of ‘flow’. The term flow is used to describe a peak state of consciousness where we’re in the moment and things seem to just ‘flow’. Sometimes it’s referred to as being ‘in the zone’.

Sometimes things will seem to slow down when we’re in flow; sometimes things will seem to speed up. I can think of examples of both of these, though usually for me time seems to speed up.

It’s those times when I’m engrossed in a conversation with someone and can’t believe how much time has passed. My awareness of the conversation and the other person/people is heightened, so much so that my surroundings seem to blur.

I experienced a state of flow recently when delivering a leadership course. I was totally in the moment and fully concentrated on the course and the participants.

In a state of flow I can be fully authentic and I can focus my attention (for surprisingly long periods of time). It’s often the state when I can learn effectively and be more creative because of the heightened awareness and concentration.

I’ve read some interesting books and articles about flow and one thing that always sticks with me is Csikszentmihalyi’s model:

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I find it really helpful to think about flow in these terms; particularly in terms of depending on a high level of both challenge and ability. The model also highlights for me why I might find some other situations fall into the other areas for me. I can think of times when I’ve been too anxious to experience flow (because of my abilities) and times I’ve felt too relaxed to experience flow (because of the lack of challenge). An increased awareness of this is helping me reframe things to maximise flow experiences (and also accept situations where flow is not possible or desirable).

How about you?

How do you know when you’re in flow?

What does it feel like for you?

How could you create more of those ‘in flow’ moments?