3 tips to find your flow state to stay focused

A flow state happens when you become completely engaged in a task. What can you do to achieve that state?

3 tips to find your flow state to stay focused
This November, I'm challenging myself to write every day. You can read them all under the "Shorts" category, where each post should be around 500-1k words. Think of them as "less polished" than my usual longer blog posts. This is Day 4.

Have you ever gotten into a state where you're deeply focused on your task? You're experiencing the flow state, also known as being "in the zone". When you're immersed and engaged in a task, you can easily lose track of time without being distracted, and this is known as a flow state. The experience itself may distort our perception of time as we lose ourselves in the moment. In this state, though, you feel great, focused, and productive. You're on a roll. The flow state doesn't happen by accident. Anyone can get into the flow state proactively when you're working on something that is both challenging and interesting to you. Here are a few ways you can get into the flow state:

1. Prepare a ritual

Before you start work, prepare a ritual. This might be anything from drinking a cup of hot tea or coffee, going for a walk to putting on your favourite music playlist to get the ball rolling. Regardless of your ritual, it serves as a cue or trigger for your brain that something important is about to happen, and you're ready to start. Find out when is the best time for you too. Are you a morning person, or a night owl? Once you've identified your optimal time when your mind is at its peak state by experimenting a few times, make sure you tackle the most important task first. Lastly, remove all distractions before you start. Turn off all notifications, put your phone aside and even use a website blocker to help you focus on your task at hand.

2. Prepare a clear goal

What are you hoping to achieve within that time? Make sure you have written out a clear goal, so you're clear on what you're aiming for. If it's too vague, that might hinder your flow state. You might become distracted and less motivated to begin, or you may even procrastinate by putting your attention on less important and urgent tasks instead. For example, suppose you want to write today. How many words are you aiming for? For how long do you intend to write? What will you write about? Be clear on your goal for the day, and scope your tasks beforehand.

3. Strike a balance between your current skill and the challenge of the task

Make sure you're working on something challenging but interesting enough to keep you engaged — not too boring, easy, or difficult. What is it that you really want to do? It's harder to induce the flow state if you're too relaxed or the task is too dull. You might not even have the motivation to work. The best moments are when you find yourself stretched slightly beyond what you're currently capable of, but not so far that it's no longer worthwhile. Make it count by doing interesting things.

Being able to work without getting distracted while working on something that's equally challenging and interesting is the goal. It's not only productive, but also you get a sense of clarity to complete your task while having a positive, fulfilling experience. What are your go-to ways to get into the flow?