“Flow” or “Zone” – and how to get there

To enjoy work and learning, to enjoy life itself, I rely heavily on something called “flow”. The feeling is very pleasant, invigorating and positive. Here is the definition from wikipedia:
Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does. Proposed by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, this positive psychology concept has been widely referenced across a variety of fields. According to Csikszentmihalyi, flow is completely focused motivation. It is a single-minded immersion and represents perhaps the ultimate experience in harnessing the emotions in the service of performing and learning. In flow, the emotions are not just contained and channeled, but positive, energized, and aligned with the task at hand. The hallmark of flow is a feeling of spontaneous joy, even rapture, while performing a task although flow is also described as a deep focus on nothing but the activity – not even oneself or one’s emotions.

It is commonly accepted that one of the ways to reach “flow” is by having perfect match between the personal skill and the task at hand. Most people simply cannot generate this “perfect match” most of the time, so it remains a domain of artists, sportsmen and monks.

Since I became what we call in this blog a “superlearner” I noticed that I seldom get bored and often get deeply and emotionally involved  in my work. Why does it happen? Well, previously 90% of my work I was doing something that I was overqualified for. When the job gets boring we get relaxed and the brain partially “shuts down” into some sort of auto-pilot mode. Simply speeding up the simple parts, generates enough load on the brain to disable this shut-down mechanism. If anything, brain becomes overly active , and free to enter the “flow” state.

Notice for superlearners: do use short breaks to rest every time you have chance to or you may get a serious headache.

The next step is activating measurable goal (read the articles, write the post/code/presentation, generate an idea) and use creativity (visualization, associations etc) in order to achieve the goal. Fortunately this is exactly something the superlearner does!

Being a superlearner is only a part of the package. We have a full set of tricks to speed-up everyday tasks, computer usage, mobile usage, generate meaningful communication…. Basically we speed up all activities to the point that they stop being boring, and generate the “flow”!

Being a superlearner not only allows to generate funny water-cooler discussions or finding the perfect job, it also enables deep satisfaction from work and from everyday life.


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3 Replies to ““Flow” or “Zone” – and how to get there”

  1. Maybe I am confused about the whole break thing, I am trying to be as productive as possible so the last thing I want to do is take more time for breaks, although I guess I haven’t tried this to see If i get any more memory retention for the things that I am reading/doing.

    1. When I take breaks you work 50% of the time (I have more complex break-taking system than described here – there are visualization and planning cycles) and do x10 work when I work than if I don’t, which means x5 productivity.
      If I follow the system I describe on keytostudy, I work 75% of the time and do x4 work, which is x3 productivity.
      If I do not take breaks I get x1 productivity for the first week, and then get burned out to x0.2 productivity afterward.
      You can see how your own mind and body react to stress. Students that do not take breaks burn out very fast and need long recovery process.

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