Do you know when you are in the flow? You may be asking what is “in the flow”? For me flow is when I am “in” the active process of performing a task and the process seems to happen or occur without any undue effort on my part. The opposite of flow is anxiety or a state of being in flux.
It is helpful to discern work flow from home flow activities as they are likely to have different patterns, even though they actually may be the same activity. The activities in my own work life that often flow for me are coaching a centered client, clearing a space, writing a how-to-piece, researching something interesting. I am often in the flow in my personal life when I am walking my dog, reading a fiction book or emptying the dishwasher. By identifying your common flow activities you may be able to stagger them in amid a complex day. This may help you reduce stress and enjoy your day more.
There have been ten identified factors accompanying an experience of flow according to Mihály Csíkszentmihályi & Kevin Rathunde in “The measurement of flow in everyday life: Towards a theory of emergent motivation” published in 1993.*
These authors identify the following ten factors as accompanying an experience of flow .
- Clear goals (expectations and rules are discernible and goals are attainable and align appropriately with one’s skill set and abilities). Moreover, the challenge level and skill level should both be high.
- Concentrating, a high degree of concentration on a limited field of attention (a person engaged in the activity will have the opportunity to focus and to delve deeply into it).
- A loss of the feeling of self-consciousness, the merging of action and awareness
- Distorted sense of time, one’s subjective experience of time is altered.
- Direct and immediate feedback (successes and failures in the course of the activity are apparent, so that behavior can be adjusted as needed).
- Balance between ability level and challenge (the activity is neither too easy nor too difficult).
- A sense of personal control over the situation or activity.
- The activity is intrinsically rewarding, so there is an effortlessness of action.
- A lack of awareness of bodily needs (to the extent that one can reach a point of great hunger or fatigue without realizing it)
- Absorption into the activity, narrowing of the focus of awareness down to the activity itself, action awareness merging.
Note that not all are needed for flow to be experienced.
What are you flow activities?
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