5 Common Focus Killers That Are Pulling You Out of a Flow State
A flow state is a lot like a winning streak. You don’t mess with it.
You’ve been there before.
In that magical, delicious state of flow, where you’re so immersed in a dedicated activity that everything…just clicks.
Flow states have to end at some point, but they often end too early.
Or, worse, they become too hard to achieve in the first place.
At Status, we are friends to flow. We want more flow for you, more often.
So let’s recap the five most common focus killers that could be jeopardizing your flow.
We live in the distraction age. From notifications, to coworkers, to back-to-back virtual meetings – it’s become far too easy to get pulled away from a focused task.
Flow states are attracted to stillness. They recoil from distractions.
To set yourself up for flow, or to help maintain it for longer, eliminate distractions from your mind and your surroundings.
Turn off notifications, employ noise-canceling earbuds or headphones, and pay special attention to your environments.
That last suggestion takes a bit more dedication than the others.
Some people can focus among a mess, or around reminders of all the other unfinished tasks that might be surrounding and encroaching on the ones you need to really focus on, in the moment.
Most people, though, do better in clean, dedicated work spaces.
Reduce any clutter in your immediate vicinity to make your space more inviting to the gods of flow.
2. A Lack of Clear Goals
Look. We’re not here to police your methods.
There’s no single way to pursue either peak creativity or peak productivity (or both).
Some people thrive in environments free from constraints. They need space, time, and room to innovate.
But, even in these cases, ideas and workflows tend to crystallize. Clarity becomes a key ingredient to making measurable progress, even if or when you aren’t the measuring type.
When it comes to flow, both research and anecdotal evidence seem to support the idea that working towards a specific objective is best.
Not sure where you’re headed, with a given pursuit or project? Doesn’t necessarily preclude you from flow.
Smaller, clearly defined tasks can easily lend themselves to the sort of deep work best served in a state of flow.
Clarify where you want to go to give yourself a better chance in these terms, or risk being passed over by flow entirely.
“Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.”
The benefits of established routines have gotten more attention in recent years, for good reason. In routine we can find a level of predictability upon which much that is not routine can be accomplished.
If your schedule or routines are constantly changing, it can be hard to reach the sort of equilibrium that is often required to enter flow.
The trick is to recognize and work at the intersection of your natural rhythms, and the goals you wish to pursue through routines that align with your own ways of doing things. Waking up at 5AM when you’re not a morning person will not help you achieve flow. You will be too sleepy! But staying up late, because you’re a night hawk? When the world is quiet and you can concentrate on your thoughts? Flow time.
4. Stress and Overwhelm
Feeling stressed and overwhelmed? We hate that for you.
Life happens. Stress happens. Burnout is far too common and too many things are too hard for too many people these days, compared to how they could be.
It’s understandable if you’re unable to enter into a flow state during times of great stress. And it’s important to take care of our mental and physical health, even when attempting to get back to a less stressful baseline.
Flow doesn’t go away forever when we’re too overwhelmed to achieve it. In fact, the path back to homeostasis could even overlap with some of the same conditions that promote flow.
Running can promote flow. The same can be said for many forms of physical activity.
Flow isn’t just about sitting at your desk for four hours straight, hammering away at your next big idea. It’s a state of being, with all sorts of benefits.
5. Incompatible audio
We could write forever about how different types of music and sound fit better to different feelings, moods, and tasks.
But when it comes to flow states, there’s clear evidence to support why certain genres of music and certain sound scapes work better than others.
The reverse also applies. The wrong kind of music can prevent you from flow, or pull you out of it if you’re already flowing.
Imagine you’re seated at your neatly organized desk.
The space is otherwise quiet.
You’re alone, working at the dedicated, specific task you’ve been working at consistently, every day this week. You’re listening to your favorite white noise track, that you like to loop over and over again.
Except you forgot to toggle the loop button.
Suddenly, the white noise ends. This change alone might enough to take you out of flow.
To make matters worse, however, your earbuds (from a company other than Status Audio) start to Rick Roll you. Happens all the time if you’re not listening on your Between 3ANC buds.
But we also don’t jest. The wrong audio can stop flow before it happens.
Don’t let it happen to you.