September 19, 2016

The Zone

During these months, as we've had the opportunity to enjoy the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, we've witnessed the finest athletes in each category giving their all, completely focused on achieving their best results. During these competitions, athletes concentrate solely on the next step that brings them closer to their goals or their personal bests. In those moments, during the event, they feel invincible, capable of turning all the pressure into heightened productivity.

Psychologists refer to this state of peak performance as "Flow," athletes commonly call it "The Zone," and for those of us who are a bit more enthusiastic, it's like being "on fire.".

What is the Zone?

The psychologist Mihály Csikszentmihályi has dealt with this phenomenon in his book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, defining it as a flow state of mind in which people are completely absorbed in an activity, especially if the activity involves their creative abilities. During this optimal experience they feel strong, alert but unaware of themselves and at the peak of their abilities.

During the flow state, several characteristics stand out, including the ability to forget one's worries and the feeling of being challenged without being overwhelmed. Participants experience a sense of being fully engaged in their task, knowing exactly what needs to be done and how to do it, with a deep awareness of doing it correctly while losing track of time.
Research conducted by the psychologist with the unpronounceable name, Csikszentmihályi, suggests that the flow state can be achieved in various types of activities.

It must be recognized that in daily work it is difficult to reach the Zone. The procrastination is stronger and drags us to take a look at the latest gif of kittens or trending topic from Twitter.

However, who wouldn't want to experience those moments when everything else fades away, and they are able to perform their tasks with complete ease and exceptional efficiency? It's particularly appealing because studies indicate that regularly achieving this level of absorption and entering the flow state is a key component of happiness.

In other words, learning to work in the flow state can increase productivity, foster creativity, and lead to a happier, more fulfilling work life.How to enter the Zone?

If the level of the challenge is too low and we hardly have to use our skills to overcome it, we can feel listless, bored or too relaxed. If, on the contrary, we find ourselves facing tasks that are too complex for us, we go over to the side of worry or anxiety.

The flow state is reached when we strike a balance - once again, "virtue is in balance," as Aristotle noted. This balance is achieved when the work we need to do is challenging, and at the same time, our skills are also up to the challenge. The tasks are not easy, but they're also not overly complex, preventing us from losing focus. Instead, they present challenges that are within our reach, leading to emotional satisfaction as we successfully complete them

So, what do we have to do to work with flow?

  1. Find a challenge, that task that you have never dared to take on and that the boss asks you to do with little eyes. But remember that if something is too easy you will get bored and procrastination will start, and if something is too hard you will be overwhelmed.
  2. Develop your skills in order to be able to face the challenges that you set or are set for you.
  3. Focus , eliminate all possible distractions and establish clear targets.
  4. Seek feedback. In order to remain in the flow state, you will need to be informed of your new achievements regarding your tasks.
  5. And, as Picasso said, "when inspiration strikes, may it find me working".

Now you are ready to be on fire!

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