10 Ways To Create Flow State At Work
By Stephane Leblanc, Founder and CEO, International Centre for Conscious Leadership
We have all heard about athletes competing at world class levels or performing inhuman feats reporting about being in a state of flow. We wonder if we can also achieve a flow state at work and in our life. Chances are, we have all achieved a flow state at one point of another in our lives. We just did not know that's how we called it.
According to positive psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, the flow state is defined as an optimal state of consciousness where we feel our best and perform at our best and when we are completely involved in an activity for its own sake. In that state, the ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you are using your skills to the utmost.
Flow state can also be achieved at work. In fact, according to research, when employees can be in flow state, they can be five times more productive. This means that if we can create an environment where they can be in flow state 20% of the time, they will double their productivity.
Here are ten ways to contributing to flow state at work
1. Having clear goals about what you want to achieve
In sports, goals are always clear as winning is the goal for the team and all team members share that goal and do everything in their capacity to contribute to that goal. In business, the vision of the company and the goals for the team and team members are not always clear which makes it difficult for team members to be in flow. Leaders can help their team be in flow by having a clear vision for the future and making the objectives for the team and each team member clear.
2. Concentration and focus
Often, we are not concentrated and focused at work. Most of us work in multi-tasking mode where we think we are efficient but the reality is that we are not as we move from task to task and are constantly distracted. This situation is even worse with the ever presence of the open space offices which were designed to improve collaboration, but have in reality contributed to a significant decrease in productivity due to the ambient noise and constant distraction. We can help create flow state by introducing mindfulness meditation programs which help people to be present and focused, by making sure that the ambient noise in our offices is low and creating an environment where team members can be focused.
3. Participating in an intrinsically rewarding activity
We cannot be in flow when we are doing an activity that we find boring as our mind will keep wandering and we will not be able to stay focused. We can help our people be in flow by making work interesting and showing every team members how they are contributing to the big picture. When we feel we are contributing to an important mission, even the most mundane task becomes interesting.
4. Losing feelings of self-consciousness
Most people are focused on their own needs and not so focused on on the needs of the whole. We can help them to get out of their own ego and focused on the need of the team by sharing with them an inspiring vision of the future and enrolling them to play a key role in the achievement of this vision and also by developing teamwork to a world class level.
5. Timelessness; losing track of time passing
When we are focused on doing something we love or that we feel is important we often lose track of time as we are so immersed in the activity.
6. Being able to immediately judge your own progress; instant feedback on your performance
In sports, players know at all times how they are performing as they only have to look at the scoreboard and they get constant feedback from the coach on their individual performance. In business, it happens often that performance is measured on the long term and project delays happen as a surprise. Leaders can help their team to be in flow by making sure everyone can assess their performance every day. This also makes it necessary that leaders communicate to every team members their role and responsibility and what is expected of them by when.
7. Knowing that your skills align with the goals of the task
In professional sports, all players feel qualified to perform their position as they have usually trained for thousands of hours for this. In business, leaders can help employees feel qualified to perform their work by offering the required training and development programs as well as coaching and mentoring.
8. Feeling control over the situation and the outcome
Leaders can help their members be in flow by making sure they have all they need to perform their work and that all team members work as a team and support each other's needs.
9. Lack of awareness of physical needs
Team members in flow state will be so focused and immersed on the mission that their high level of energy will help them overcome tiredness and sustain productivity through the day.
10. Complete focus on the activity itself
Team members in flow will be immensely focused on the mission and will be highly productive and produce better quality
As you can see, there are great benefits to helping our team members achieve flow state as they will be more productive, produce better quality and be happier at work.
As conscious leaders, it is worthwhile to explore how we can help create flow state at work
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