6 Ways You Enter the Flow State Without Realizing
These will make you change what you think about deep work
The flow state is life-changing.
You know what they say: once you go flow, then nothing after that feels slow.
Okay, no one says that. Not even me, but that’s beside the point
The flow state isn’t a place, rather a feeling. The funny thing is you don’t realize you’re in a state of flow until much later, if at all.
Reaching the flow state is like going to sleep. It’s 9 PM, you’re in bed early because you want to get two extra hours of sleep. The lights are off, and you try and fall into a deep slumber.
Except you can’t. You’re thinking too hard about sleeping, and now a song is stuck in your head, and you can’t stop worrying about the Powerpoint you have to finish before that stupid meeting tomorrow.
It’s when you let your mind and body at ease that you’re able to sleep. The same goes for reaching the flow state. Just like falling asleep, there are ways to put yourself in the best position to do so.
To learn how to reach the flow state, just look at your daily activities. We enter a zone of peak performance every day, without even realizing it.
Just moments before making a right turn into the parking lot at work, I was inches from clipping a parked car on the street. At the last second, my mind perked up, and I made a quick and slight movement to make sure I didn’t ruin my day before it started.
We can all relate to this. Driving is a hazardous activity when you think about it. When you drive, you’re one of the thousands of people within the same square mileage powering a three thousand pound deathtrap.
You could technically hit anyone or anything at any second. Yet, 99% of the time you drive, you don’t get in an accident. How rarely do you even see an accident? It’s like everyone moves in sync for the most part.
Driving is your daily commute into the flow state. It takes a lot of brainpower to weave in and out of traffic and to merge with oncoming cars to your left and right.
If you’ve consistently driven a car for more than a year, driving is much easier when you don’t think about it too much.
On the first day of backpacking the Trans-Catalina trail, a 38.5 stretch that goes around the island of Catalina off the coast of California, I found myself separated from my group.
It was midday at this point, and I was tired. I’d already ascended a few thousand feet, and I still had 4–5 miles left to hike before reaching the first campsite. I used the opportunity to pop my Airpods in, and my whole perspective shifted.
I felt present in the moment instead of worrying about my condition. I forgot about my exhaustion, the sweat, the dirt on my face, and I just hiked.
I felt the wind, and I felt my body working overtime, but it was a good feeling. I was performing at my maximum capacity, and it felt like I was in the state forever.
Instead, I probably listened to five songs before I caught up to another hiker, and then I snapped out of my flow.
I’m a culprit of gushing over the flow state in my writing. When I was new to blogging, I was addicted to reading posts about the best way to write and how much money people made per month.
I’ve forgotten most of them at this point, except for the very first article I read about flow states. It’s a complicated topic, but one I connect to. I swear I’d been in this so-called “flow” before, but I never knew what to call the feeling.
I found out that there are unique ways to enter the flow state, and it’s an incredibly effective way to write.
When I write, I pop on my noise-canceling headphones, put the snacks away, and go to town on the keys. I don’t worry about making grammar or spelling errors. I just try to keep the ball rolling.
I knew what the flow state felt like because of the gym.
The gym is a place to exert yourself physically. When your body is broken down, your mind wavers as a result. Over time, you train your mind just like your muscles, and you learn to stay in control.
Control of your body after multiple heavy lifting sets is a form of flow.
When you lift weights, you’re constantly battling with yourself. You may do three sets, but you know you're supposed to do one more. You try and convince yourself to move onto something else.
The flow state won’t let you skip the set. You’re in the zone, bro. Pick up those heavy dumbells and finish strong.
Pain is just weakness leaving the body.
Funny enough, lifting weights makes you a better writer too. The energy you find in the flow state transfers to other facets of life.
Online clothing shopping
I leave shopping tabs on my browser for days. Sometimes I just look at clothes and add them to my cart for fun. I never realize how much time I waste until I finally snap out of my state.
Though it might seem like a waste of time, it just goes to show that you don’t always need to do something productive to reach the flow state. Peak performance is something you can reach anytime, anywhere.
You just have to put a few pieces in the right places to get there.
I just snapped out of my flow state when I saw this header. I write my main ideas ahead of time and then time myself in 25-minute increments when I write. This way, I know to go hard at my writing for a set amount of time.
I don’t get lost in the sauce this way, and I write like my hair is on fire.
Binaural beats are another significant facet of my life, thanks to Tim Denning. I never understood what listening to repetitive music could do until I tried it. Pair it with some nice headphones, and you’ve got yourself a one-way ticket to deep work city.
Truly entering the flow state costs a bit of energy. If you’re tired or distracted by your phone or other items, then you’re not giving yourself the best chance to do deep work.
My day job drains me of most of my daily energy. I lift most days of the week too, so the remainder of my energy goes to physical exercise. By the time I get home, I have a low battery.
Entering the flow state is like turning your iPhone to low-battery mode. Flow states put you on autopilot so that you can conserve the rest of your juice.
Daily activities, like driving and browsing the Internet, use up energy too. Sure they use less than lifting weights, but everything you do uses energy.
When you realize that life is a series of flow states, you notice how to use them more effectively.
Do you agree with me?