What is flow, and why is it important?

What is flow, and why is it important?

June 23, 2021
, Last updated: 
July 23, 2021

What is flow? Why should you optimize for it? In this background article to our Find Your Flow series, share what flow is and how we’ll help you achieve it.

Have you ever been so locked in on your work that time disappears? You are working through a task or project, and everything is clicking. You always know what to do next. Nothing is distracting you. Suddenly, you realize it’s 3 pm, and you didn’t even have lunch yet.

Congratulations, you’ve experienced flow! It’s a great feeling, right?

Here at Taskable, we’re all about flow. We help our users optimize their time, spend less time searching across open tabs, and always know what they do next.

Our Find Your Flow content series aims to give everyone the tools to find flow as often as possible. But before getting into that, we wanted to address what is flow and why it’s essential for helping you be happier and more productive at work.

About flow

According to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi from his book “FLOW: The Psychology of Optimal Experience,” flow generally has the following characteristics:

  1. You are undertaking a task with clear goals, provides immediate feedback, and is possible to complete.
  2. You can focus intently on the task at hand with minimal distractions. You don’t worry about daily frustrations, and self-concern disappears (like forgetting to each lunch).
  3. You have a sense of self-control over your actions.
  4. You lose your sense of time.

In other words, we become absorbed in a task or project, and everything else disappears because what we are working on has immediate feedback and gratification, sometimes just in the act of doing.

What is flow
Get into your flow channel

Flow sits between anxiety and boredom. Your flow channel is where you undertake a task with a high enough degree of challenge balanced with an appropriate skill level. Too much challenge and we feel underprepared for the challenge. Too little challenge and we become bored.

Flow isn’t just something that happens at work. You can achieve flow in sports, art, studying, or wherever you undertake complex tasks and stretch your skills to meet new challenges.

Check out our article on Mindful Productivity to learn more about the importance of flow.

Why is flow important

Besides the act of flow itself being gratifying, there are all kinds of other benefits to flow.

According to Csikszentmihályi, spending more time in flow increases general happiness, satisfaction, and success. In addition, the time we spend in flow leads to attempting new challenges that expand our skills and experiences.

A McKinsey study found that we are 500% more productive while in flow. Most workers report spending only about 10% of their time in this state. However, some report spending as much as 50% of their time there.

So what can we do about improving our ratio of flow to non-flow hours at work, thus boosting our satisfaction and expanding our skills? Glad you asked!

Find Your Flow

Our Find Your Flow series will share actionable tips and ideas for helping you find flow at work. Everything from how to plan your day, reduce decision fatigue, prioritize your work, and much more.

We’ll also share how Taskable helps enable flow and why we think you should try us out. But, this series will be helpful even if you aren’t a Taskable user (yet).

We hope it helps you find your flow!

Check out our Find Your Flow series.

July 23, 2021

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