In the Zone
Sometimes, finding the joy in your daily tasks can be a difficult proposition. But when you’re truly enjoying your tasks, and using mindful practices to keep you focused, you can find your flow.
Flow is so important, it is worth mentioning in some detail. Daniel Goleman calls it the ultimate motivator.
Flow is a state of peak performance discovered by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who spent more than two decades studying it in individuals. Csikszentmihalyi describes it as being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. 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’re using your skills to the utmost.
Athletes know this state as being in the zone. But at SIYLI, we know that flow can be found in everyday tasks if you know how to achieve it. Flow has been reported widely in a very diverse number of fields, such as climbing rocks, performing brain surgery, filing papers, and even in mindful practices (in fact, one way to think of flow is as Zen in action).
How will flow help you at work? Imagine being able to be “in the zone” all day. If you use your focus to block out distractions, overcome unproductive behavior, you’ll be able to concentrate solely on your work. You’ll get more done in less time.
Flow occurs when the task at hand matches the skill level of the person, such that it is difficult enough to provide a challenge but not so difficult that it overwhelms the practitioner. If the task is too easy relative to skill level, the practitioner will be bored or apathetic. In contrast, if it is too difficult, the person becomes anxious or worried. Flow occurs when difficulty is just right.
So what do you do if you’re daily activities are not at a challenging you enough? You learn to adjust your attention to fit the task. Think of your tasks at work as exercises in mindfulness. When you feel your mind wandering from what you’re doing, take a moment to check your wandering attention, focus on your breath for a moment and resume your task.
Flow is a state of focused attention, so people skillful in focusing their attention, such as mindful practitioners or martial arts experts, are more likely to find themselves in flow.