Your flow state is where your peak performance occurs.
So mastering flow is a superpower for anyone willing to experiment. Most of the traditional workday is spent doing shallow work — like responding to emails, looking at a dumb phone, sitting in lifeless meetings that rot the soul, and posting on social media.
Information overload and distractions destroy flow states. That’s how most of us work. We’re pulled from one thing to the next. We’re multi-tasking a lot without even realizing we’re doing it. As a result, we work longer days than required to make up for all the time wastage.
Open plan offices kill flow states (by design) as distractions are abundant, and so is the constant overtone of noise. Flow states are about doing deep work. Deep work is work that adds value and feels amazing after you do it. Many writers say that flow states are crucial for them to succeed online. I agree.
Flow states changed my life. I went from writing one short story a week to twelve long-form stories a week using flow. A flow state is where you sit down for at least 3-4 hours and do deep work. Time feels as though it speeds up. Four hours can feel like one hour.
Here are some uncommon insights on flow states you probably haven’t heard.
Flow states leave hard work for dead
All these hard work cults are stupid. Working hard is dumb. Anyone can look busy and complete a to-do list of tasks that add zero value to a person or a business.
This is what the traditional office worker model I spent most of my career working in focuses on. You’ve got to be seat warmer and be seen to enter and leave the office at certain times. Your computer is tracked by company software that sees how much time you spend in each app.
A company I worked for even used those statistics to determine bonuses. Ridiculous. Time spent procrastinating in an app doesn’t count as meaningful work — yet the factory worker industrial age still dominates how we measure performance.
Flow states make hard work look worse than death. You maintain a flow state by removing distractions — turning off notifications, putting your phone in another room, closing the door, choosing a quiet space, etc.
Flow states produce a higher quality of work because the level of focus is extreme. As the momentum from doing the same task builds, the output increases and there are no distractions to break you out of the trance.
10X your flow state with this simple trick
I’m a flow junkie, always searching for ways to enhance my state. Writer Jeremy Moser says his flow states became more powerful when he walked beforehand. He says walking boosts his creative focus. The temptation is to walk to consume content and multi-task.
What if you walked to prepare for flow states?
I’ve tried it. It works. Walking is meditation for your mind, and reaching a flow state is easier when your mind is relaxed by meditation.
Work during odd hours of the day
Odd hours are often the most productive for me. Less noise, less Slack, no emails — Jeremy Moser
Not everybody lives in a 20-something-year-old’s body. Some of you have kids, or debts, or live in noisy apartment blocks, or are in the process of leaving a crappy job. I get it. Flow state wonderland is difficult in these circumstances.
I used to live in a crippling work environment too. Multiple people under the one roof at home, an idiot neighbor who would rev his Harley Davidson non-stop next to my office window as a form of fake enlargement of the banana in his pants, and a pain in the ass boss who loved people being on call so he could get over his daddy issues from childhood.
Most people aren’t working at 6 am or after 10 pm at night. These odd times of the day can remove distractions and noise, and allow you to get into a flow state. Try it if normal work hours don’t produce flow.
Read to warm up your imagination for flow
Flow states and your imagination go hand in hand. Deep work done in flow taps into your imagination.
Reading a fiction book before getting into a flow state is a simple way to warm up your imagination. The “anything is possible” mantra is easier to believe in a flow state when your imagination is on fire.
Your imagination stops you from placing artificial boundaries on thoughts. This has helped produce the best work of my life. No critic can stop me when my imagination blocks out all the noise and allows optimism to take over the narrative in my head.
Read for 30 minutes before you get into a flow state.
Flow states are extremely addictive
These deep flow states are addictive AF.
Before, I thought, oh that’s going to cost X days, and X hours. Now I think — Ah, that’s only X flow states, which is always less effort — HooaFury
Flow states produce superhuman productivity. The book “Stealing Fire” shows how entrepreneurs, navy seals, maverick scientists, elite athletes, and musicians master flow to produce work that looks impossible.
Flow states are so effective that you can get addicted to them. I’m an addict. You’ll start to take big projects and break them down into flow state sessions. Flow states make big projects feel effortless, so you procrastinate less.
A paradigm shift in the study of flow states
Hemingway knew that flow wasn’t a ghost to be strangled to death on every chance encounter.
He walked away from his typewriter while he still had gas in the tank and inspiration on his side — Cory McComb
I have a confession: I’ve been overdoing flow states. This quote from Hemingway opened my eyes.
When you stay in a flow state and push it too hard, it can ruin future flow states. The trick I’ve learned is to finish a flow state before I’m exhausted. That way you’re leaving a flow state at the point of euphoria created by deep work, instead of leaving at the point of exhaustion that will have negative memories next time.
I find negative memories from flow states cause me to procrastinate the next time around. Because my mind is thinking of the upcoming flow state as three Mt Everests, instead of a hill Marry Poppins could gracefully walk up.
Walk away from a flow state on a high.
Keep the brain in peak state to stay in flow
A tired brain becomes a distracted brain. Keep your brain in peak form.
- Drink water while in a flow state to prevent brain fog.
- Take regular breaks but keep your headphones on to stay in flow.
- Eat plants that give your brain energy while in flow. Sugar takes away energy. Social media takes away energy.
- Look at an indoor houseplant’s greenness to reset your eyes and mind.
Flow states can stop working (here’s why)
Wait, what? Yep.
The key to flow states is to do work that challenges you. Writing one article used to challenge me. Then writing five articles in a day used to challenge me. Now I’ve added deep research to my writing to increase the challenge, therefore continuing to give me access to flow. If you don’t raise the level of difficulty with the work you do, it becomes too easy, so you get bored.
Boredom is the enemy of flow states.
Flow states can enable you to work only 3 hours a day
I’m sure you’ve heard stories of people only working three hours a day and probably dismissed it as lifestyle showiness. It’s not. The output and quality of work from flow states is so much higher than the typical shallow work taught by corporations up to their eyeballs in endless meetings.
Psychologist Benjamin Hardy said, “All you need is three hours of creative flow every day.” I’ve found this to be true.
Flow states have changed my life because I can do all my work in 3-4 hours if I need to, and goof off for the rest of the day to recover. It’s how I was able to work 20% less in my corporate job and still outperform all the brainwashed 7-day-a-week workers. They didn’t understand. The answer is flow.
Get good at getting into flow states and you’ll outperform in whatever type of work you do. That could change your life. You could even discover a level of high-performance you didn’t know is possible.