Our series ‘Working from home tips’ is all about useful hacks for working from home. We will give you tips from how to find your workflow when working from home to keeping the team-bond strong from a distance.
Have you ever been so consumed with a task that you completely lost track of time and the world surrounding you? It feels like you’re effortlessly working on something with full focus.
Then you most likely know the feeling of being in the flow. Psychologist Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi first mentioned this state of mind in the seventies. He explains the flow as a mental state where we’re “so immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity that we lose sense of space and time.”
However, getting a hold of this fleeting mental state can be tricky, but there are steps you can take to make it easier to find your flow.
1. Focus on will-power
To find your flow, you need to be able to control what occupies your mind. Procrastination is one of the big no-go’s if you want to get into the zone.
One way to work on your will-power is by setting daily goals. By doing so, you can consider whether your actions are helping you towards reaching your goal. Will checking your mail once again really help you reach your goal of writing 1000 words today?
2. Stay focused on one task
Not only do you need will-power to get into the zone, but you also need to concentrate. Finding your flow takes time, which means you need to stay focused on one task for a longer period. It might help to pause your notifications, put your phone on flight mode, or close your email for a while. You can also set a timer on your phone for, for instance, 40 minutes where you focus solely on the task in front of you. If you're new to this it's recommended to try 20 minutes at a time.
3. Don’t get too comfortable
Finding the perfect balance between your skills and the challenge at hand is the key to get into the zone. If your work is too easy and doesn’t push you out of your comfort zone, it can be a lot more difficult to get consumed by the task. So, if it’s possible, seek out the more challenging tasks and find tasks that interest you. Don't find something too challenging or it might be too difficult for you to focus on it.
4. Find your motivation
Having a sense of purpose is vital for you to find your flow. If you’re excited about a topic, it’s easier to find the motivation. It's the same case for your flow.
There must be a reason why you need to fulfill your task at work.. Or at least a reason, that makes sense to you. If you have trouble being motivated, you can ask yourself this:
- What value do I create by doing this task?
- Who do I help with this?
- What is the expected outcome?
By answering these questions, you can build your own mission statement that helps you find the motivation for your work and different tasks.
5. Schedule your day after your productive hours
We all have different times during the day when we feel the most energetic. Some are mostly energized in the morning, others in the evening. Whenever you feel the most energized, this is when you should schedule to work on tasks that require focus. By planning certain tasks in this time, you will likely find your flow which can give you that extra push of focus. When you’re tired, your energy and concentration level will usually go down – which can minimize your chance of finding your flow.
6. Silence or music?
Aside from getting rid of distractions - such as papers occupying your entire desk or waiting to use the dishwasher till later if the sound is distracting you - you should consider whether you work best in complete silence or with background music.
If you like music, there is a world of different genres that set out to help you keep focus.
Instrumental music is good if you're for example writing a report. If you, on the other hand, are doing repetitive tasks such as data entry, upbeat music with lyrics can help you stay alert.
It’s a good idea to choose music that you enjoy, but don’t know too well. Otherwise, you risk that the music becomes a distraction from your work.
If you prefer silence, you could consider finding a quiet space somewhere or invest in a pair of noise-canceling headphones.
7. Take pride in your work
An important factor in finding your flow is to enjoy your work. The money, awards, or praise shouldn’t be the main reasons why you do your work. They should be byproducts of a job well done. Instead, focus on what you like about your work, and how you develop through the challenges you meet.
8. Practice and more practice
Finding your flow takes practice. So, don’t lose hope if you don’t always succeed. There are many steps along the way to optimize your ability to get into the zone. Every time you fail, learn from it. Ask yourself what distracted you, what got you out of your zone, and consider what task you were working on. When you succeed, note what it was you did and whether you had a specific type of music playing, or if you paused your notifications.
The more you practice finding your flow, the better you’ll get.