A flow state (or being in the zone) is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. This leads to a tremendous boost in productivity and enjoyment, in anything that you do.
Deep work is professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to the limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill and are hard to replicate.
Deep Work is a concept coined by Cal Newport and discussed in detail in his book Deep Work – Rules for Success in a Distracted World.
Deep work leads to a significant boost in your productivity levels and in your ability to grasp & complete complex tasks. You can learn more about deep work in our blog post: Deep Work: How to focus and get highly productive in your work
State of Flow
When your brain is allowed to work for a period of time without distraction, it enters a state of flow (also known as the zone). Flow is characterised by complete absorption in what one does.
The benefits of the state of flow, have been documented in great depth by the productivity best-seller Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihaly, which along with Deep Work by Cal Newport are considered to be the best books written on the topic of focus.
Flow: Flow is the way people describe their state of mind when consciousness is harmoniously ordered, and they want to pursue whatever they are doing for its own sake. In reviewing some of the activities that consistently produce flow—such as sports, games, art, and hobbies—it becomes easier to understand what makes people happy.Mihaly Csikszentmihaly – Author – Flow
Peak State: When you are in peak state, your subconscious and conscious minds—which typically fight each other to some degree—are in perfect harmony. Your rational (conscious) mind aligns perfectly with your emotions (subconscious), and together they combine into a powerful force that makes you unstoppable.
Sunil Saxena – Author – Massive Action equals Massive Results
What it means to be in a state of flow?
- Completely involved in what we are doing – focused, concentrated
- A sense of ecstasy – of being outside everyday reality.
- Great inner clarity – knowing what needs to be done, and how well we are doing.
- Knowing that the activity is doable – that our skills are adequate to the task.
- A sense of serenity – no worries about oneself, and a feeling of growing beyond the boundaries of the ego.
- Timelessness – thoroughly focused on the present, hours seem to pass by in minutes.
- Intrinsic motivation – whatever produces flow becomes its own reward.
4 States of Flow
- Struggle Phase: Struggle does not feel good. People are unwilling to challenge their self.
- Release Phase: When you accept the struggle and take on the challenge this is where your brain converts from conscious to subconscious processing.
- Flow State: This is where the person is in the zone, on fire, can do anything and is insanely productive.
- Brain Rewiring and Memory Consolidation Phase: You remember everything that happened during your peak performance and you see the new possibilities that happened.
The ability to say No: People think focus means saying “yes” to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying “no” to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things we have done.Kevin Johnson – Entrepreneur, Author – The Entrepreneur Mind
Top Books on Focus
Videos on Focus
Understand the tremendous boost in productivity you gain, by being able to engage in deep work, free of distractions. This short video introduces the concept, and provides you a brief idea on how you can incorporate deep work sessions into your own schedule.
Learn about the 3 energy wasters you need to quit now, to channel you energy more productively: (1) Multi-tasking – why deep work is much more effective (2) ‘Good Opportunities’ – versus strong focus on what matters most (3) Relations with the wrong people – severe ties with people who are not helping you move forward
Other concepts on Productivity
People get so tied down in getting things done, that they often lose sight of what it the real outcome (or value) of all the things that they are doing. Being Busy is often a sign of a person who has not prioritized his/her activities and is working on low-value repetitive tasks, with little to show in terms of results. There is no virtue in being busy. What matters are your results.