Achieving Flow In The Workplace

I was reacquainted with a concept this week: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s thoughts on Flow. He says that Flow is a state of intense focus and crisp sense of clarity where you forget yourself, lose track of time, and feel like you’re part of something larger.

When I first learned about Flow, it was described as an activity which demands undivided attention, that you can perform well, that you have unlimited energy for, where time seems to fly by so fast you lose your sense of how long has passed.

The person teaching about flow pitched the idea,  that if you could, you should find a work environment which allowed you to experience Flow.  Also, if you were in charge of a work environment, you should keep Flow in mind as you create an environment for work.

Piggybacking on this idea, a guy named Schaffer proposed seven conditions which produce Flow. They are:

  1. Knowing what to do
  2. Knowing how to do it
  3. Knowing how well you are doing
  4. Knowing where to go (if navigation is involved)
  5. High perceived challenges
  6. High perceived skills
  7. Freedom from distractions

So, if you are on your own:

Make sure you know how the game is played.

Make sure you get the training/coaching you need to succeed.

It helps if you know the score. Am I getting better? What’s the record? What’s regarded as excellent? How am I progressing?

Your game needs to be challenging.

You have a greater chance to achieve Flow if not everyone else can do what you do.

Eliminate the distractions and hassles.

If you are a boss, you can think about your work environment and team members with the above considerations in mind. Then tweak and modify things to get closer to the ideal.

The dead opposite of Flow is boredom. When you’re feeling bored or your team lacks complacency, those conditions on Flow can give you some insight.