Have you heard of new buzz words like hyper-focus, being totally in the zone or a single-minded immersion? Interestingly, all of them have a similar meaning. They talk about a mental state so powerful that can take your concentration and hence productivity at work to new levels. An ultimate productivity zone that you can find yourself in is the ‘flow’ that people in every career field carve to be in today.
Flow is being in that moment where everything around you will seem to be flowing effortlessly out of you - be it your work or just some music. As a concept, it has become an object of fascination for many people. You train your mind to reach a mental state of activity in which you will be completely immersed in the action you perform.
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These pockets of supernatural efficiency are rare, but not impossible to achieve. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the person behind this concept, lists nine elements of flow. They are clear goals, immediate feedback to the actions being performed, a middle ground between challenge and skill, a merger of action with awareness, no distractions, absolutely no fear of failing, no self-consciousness to hinder you, no sense of time and completing goals with pleasure. Doesn’t that sound like the ultimate work life? A peaceful and pleasurable ride to reach your peak of potential!
Attaining an unobtrusive mental state is a personal ride that everyone takes at their own pace. Identify at what time of the day you are least distracted. You can also take self-assessments on your current productivity here to know where you stand and where you want to go. For example, if you are a writer by profession, then may be the first hour of the morning is the best time to start writing. This is the time when your creativity would be at peak with least distractions.
Find what works best for you, and how you can implement the same in your day to day routine. Would some music be able to calm down your nerves and make you reach that level of pleasurable productivity? Once you reach that ultimate level, do not try to push yourself out of it. You will feel a sense of distortion in time, but allow yourself to remain focussed on your work. It is all about enjoying the mental state that have started exploring. These quotes can help you stay motivated.
The managers or team leaders control the factors that can affect the flow balance externally. They assign to the team members the tasks which should neither be too challenging nor too tedious; especially in the beginning. If you lead a team and want them entrained in the concept of flow, you need to understand each and every member’s emotional quotient, as well as efficiency levels. You need to tap into their inner motivation and hidden capabilities that can work for the organisation.
Brad Farris at Chicago consultancy Anchor Advisors endorses nurturing a work culture, wherein the team members are free to experiment and take chances without any form of fear trying to stop their enthusiasm or hinder their confidence levels. A more innovative work environment can be created by making your team aware about the value of calculated risks without the pressure of over thinking about the result.
In summary, reaching one’s highest productivity zone is a two-way street. Both the employee and the employer or the manager have to work together to create an environment that helps them achieve theirs, as well as organisational targets.