How to Get Into the Flow State: 8 Steps for Max Productivity

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Peter Shallard
CEO | Commit Action |

Imagine a writer utterly engrossed in their craft, fingers flowing across the keyboard as an effortless stream of ideas come naturally and hours fly by unnoticed. Or a musician so immersed in a complex composition that the music seems to pour out unimpeded.

A surgeon may experience similar laser focus and expanded skills during a complex operation, just as a software engineer tackles convoluted code in a smooth flurry of problem-solving insights. 

Athletes describe the sensation of getting “in the zone” during a game, just as public speakers lock into an audience. 

Yet most believe entering intense flow states lies outside conscious control, arising sporadically like magical forces.

But simple fundamentals actually set the stage for more frequent immersion.

Rather than a mysterious force, Commit Action sees flow simply emerging from applying core productivity principles like strategically planning days, minimizing distractions, and tracking incremental progress.

You create fertile conditions where focus deepens, creativity surges, and effectiveness compounds as time melts away. This is the reality, not a magical realm reserved for the lucky few.

In this guide, we talk about what flow state is, how it works, and how you can tap into these highly productive focus states consistently through practical strategies.

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What is Flow State and How Does it Feel?

Flow state brings complete absorption in the task coupled with euphoric heightened creativity. Here are some defining traits:

  1. You’re in total immersion where you lose track of time as hours can pass by in minutes.

  2. You tap into enhanced cognitive abilities beyond your normal limits: 

  3. You achieve peak performance through intense focus and feel energized.

  4. You feel supreme confidence and control as work becomes smoother.

  5. You accomplish challenging tasks easily as difficult activities turn automatic.

  6. You’re fully engrossed in the present moment and no disruptive thoughts arise.

  7. You crave spending more time in this optimal state due to the euphoric rush.

In essence, flow enables next-level functioning maximizing your latent abilities. By learning to activate it intentionally, you expand your potential.

How Does The Flow State Work?

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This mysterious concept of "flow" originated in the 1970s from the pioneering work of psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Csikszentmihalyi sought to decode optimal human experience across domains ranging from chess to rock climbing. He interviewed everyone from composers to athletes trying to crack the code of peak performance. 

A simple yet profound recipe for achieving flow emerged from the patterns: flow happens when there's a delicate balance between your current skill level and a task's level of challenge.

Like Goldilocks, the challenge cannot be too difficult or too easy. The sweet spot between boredom and anxiety creates the conditions that allow total absorption in an activity. 

Once in the flow state, you often feel heightened focus about what must be done and achieve an exhilarating, relaxed productivity session.

Activities eliciting flow become intrinsically rewarding - you begin craving time spent in flow. The mechanics revealed by Csikszentmihalyi were validated using neuroimaging techniques like fMRI scans. 

When the mind enters this harmonious state between skills and challenge, you tap into flow. Seeking to repeat this peak experience becomes self-motivating.

Like a surfer catching the perfect wave, you must put yourself in a position to ride the flow when all the elements line up just right. 

Once you learn to recognize when you've caught the wave, you can start riding flow states consistently.

Read also: Are you struggling to make a schedule? Learn how to make a daily schedule for yourself.

How to Get into the Flow State in 8 Steps?

The flow state is a remarkable level of focus and immersion that can significantly boost your productivity and performance as we have discussed. But with the demands and distractions of daily life, tapping into flow can seem elusive.

The good news is that with the right approach and some practice, anyone can train their mind to access the flow state more consistently. 

By implementing the following strategies, you’ll be on your way to experiencing flow states more frequently:

1. Have Meaningful Motivation

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The flow state happens most easily when your work aligns with motivations beyond seeking flow for its own sake. Ensure your objectives create value and meaning that resonates with your purpose. 

Why does this project matter? How will it move your mission forward? 

Tie your flow sessions to a North Star so you operate with intention. Flow follows purpose, so anchor your efforts to a guiding purpose.

At Commit Action, we guide clients using our “critical present aim” framework when identifying motivations and anchoring efforts. This involves recognizing your goals will change over time, evaluating alignment with present priorities, and weighing how opportunities may enable or inhibit flow states.

2. Set Clear Success Metrics

Establish crystal clear expectations for what success looks like on both macro and micro levels. 

Define exactly how you'll evaluate progress on an overall level as well as in each session so you don't question your trajectory mid-flow.

For example, you could set daily word count or revenue targets to stay focused during each session. And have periodic milestone check-ins on bigger goals to ensure you're on track overall. 

Our coaches at Commit Action help you quantify your progress so you can track indicators to maintain motivation.

Having quantifiable metrics acts like a GPS guiding your efforts and keeping you confidently headed in the right direction.

3. Start Small Then Build Momentum

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When you first start trying to tap into intense flow states, day one may feel painfully slow. You struggle to minimize distractions amidst swirling responsibilities.

However, you must expect an adjustment period during this phase. 

Ingraining new workflow habits requires upfront effort before the process becomes more automatic. 

Initial sessions may feel clunky but remember that tiny, consistent actions compound into major momentum over time. The more you carved out those early blocks, the easier the entering flow becomes.

Stick with the process through early friction and avoid getting discouraged by subpar sessions. View it as necessary growing pains that precede liftoff if you just persist.

The tiny gains you make each day start snowballing, building motivation as you witness increasing performance. Before you know it, you'll have built up a work rhythm that sustains you through long immersive stretches.

4. Schedule Flow Sessions Strategically

Take some time to identify when you have peak mental focus and energy throughout the day, as well as when you have minimal distractions or interruptions. These are your biological prime times. 

Schedule intense flow sessions during those ideal slots to fully protect and capitalize on them. 

For example, early mornings could be great for creative work before emails and calls start rolling in, or late nights may be best for analytical focus work when things have settled down. 

Strategically map out when to attempt flow sessions based on understanding your innate rhythms.

The coaches at Commit Action are experts at finding each individual's peak productivity times. We'll help you map out a weekly schedule that blocks off distraction-free flow sessions during your biological prime time.

5. Set Supportive Boundaries

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Guarding your designated flow session blocks means setting clear boundaries around people's expectations to avoid disruptions.

Communicate your availability rhythms clearly with colleagues, friends, and family. Let people know when you’ll be focused and unavailable for replies until later. Schedule catch-up windows pre and post-flow blocks. 

Trying simple tactics like a "Do Not Disturb" sign on your door establishes that your required uninterrupted focus time will thoughtfully respect their needs too while you both understand each other's availability.

The key is proactively planning barriers against human disruptions by setting reasonable expectations with others around your flow session schedule. This guards protected spaces for immersive focus states to emerge.

6. Prime Your Mind Beforehand

Develop little pre-flow habits that act as cues telling your physiology it's time to perform at the peak of your abilities and tap into enhanced capacities.

For example, try 5-10 minutes of meditation, deep breathing or relaxing yoga poses to calm restless thoughts. 

Keep a playlist that ignites razor-sharp concentration. Write down motivational affirmations about the transformational value of your flow block goals.

Ritualizing mindset practices like these send signals, almost like muscle memory, for your brain and body to expect highly productive focus time soon.

Over time, behaviors like sipping a unique flavored tea, or scanning an inspirational quote become mental triggers associated with entering an elevated flow zone.

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7. Avoid Digital Rabbit Holes

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Be vigilant about blocking digital distractions completely during flow blocks.

Start by enabling Do Not Disturb settings on devices to mute notifications. Disable email and browser push notifications to maintain uninterrupted attention.

Next, quit distracting apps entirely and log out of tempting sites before flow time so you create friction and barriers against impulsive clicking. 

Without fail, consciously decide not to check productivity black holes like email, social media feeds, texts, stocks, or news once flow sessions commence.

These endlessly scrolling sites and addictive apps have no place during designated deep work blocks deliberately designed to accomplish meaningful objectives through unbroken focus.

The idea is to be overprepared to prevent digital temptations from hijacking flow through proactive planning, not relying on restraint alone.

8. Take Regular Breaks

Make sure to fully recharge between intense 60-90 minute flow sessions to renew mental clarity and energy levels. Don't burn out by forcing excessively long strains.

When an alert goes off ending your timed flow block, immediately step away from the task no matter how engaged you still feel. Avoid the temptation to override alerts or tell yourself you'll wrap up soon. 

Complete involvement means you lose an honest perception of fatigue.

During your short breaks, give your mind an active reset through movement, hydration, and even a brief chat. Go for a short walk outdoors, stretch gently, snack on energizing foods, and sip water.

This structured disengagement allows your neurotransmitter levels depleted from intense focus to replenish so you avoid draining creative juices in a productivity death march.

Regularly stepping away to refill your mental fuel tank allows you to re-enter flow sessions feeling genuinely revitalized and makes it sustainable.

Read also: Want to be productive not just in the morning? Here's how to stay super productive in the evenings too.

Make the Flow State Your Competitive Edge

what is flow state.pngEntering the flow state provides a major competitive edge through enhanced focus, motivation, creativity, and performance. By understanding the conditions that enable flow and practicing techniques to achieve it, you can tap into these temporary superpowers on demand.

While learning to achieve flow takes practice, you don't have to go it alone.

Our expert coaches at Commit Action provide the structure, accountability, and implementation support to help professionals like you make consistent progress on your topmost priorities.

With Commit Action, you’ll get:

  • A dedicated coach for personalized 1-on-1 sessions

  • Customized planning frameworks to optimize productivity

  • Weekly action plans tailored to your goals

  • Ongoing support via text, email, and app check-ins

  • Tools to identify high-impact tasks and strategic time blocks

In summary, we’ll coach you to achieve mastery over your schedule, develop winning routines, and fully capitalize on your precious time.

If you feel stuck in a cycle of distraction and lack of focus, sign up for Commit Action today. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. How long does it take to get into a flow state?

The time it takes to enter flow varies, but with practice priming your mindset and focusing intensely, you can immerse yourself in under 15 minutes. You must schedule enough time for the ramp-up.

2. Can everyone enter a flow state?

Yes, anyone can achieve flow by taking on challenges that stretch skills and get feedback. But it requires purposefully structuring activities and the environment.

3. How hard do we have to push to enter the flow state?

You have to push yourself just beyond your comfort zone - not so hard it causes anxiety, but enough skill-challenge balance for full absorption.

4. Can you permanently be in a flow state?

No, the flow state is transitory and unsustainable permanently due to mental fatigue. But with practice, you can enter it more frequently.

5. Can you train the flow state?

Yes, by regularly structuring activities and environment to create flow conditions, entering flow becomes easier over time.

6. How to enter flow state on command?

Having clear goals, minimizing distractions, and joining the right balance of challenge and skills enables entering flow at will.

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