Flow State of Mind | How to Stay Focused and Avoid Distractions

Recently I have been studying Positive psychology a lot.

Mainly because personally, I have been struggling to keep up to date on my work even if grafting 70 hours plus. Yet if I went on holiday and worked several hours per day I could get myself clear and up to date.

Sounds crazy but I started to understand flow state of mind and how damning distractions are for you.

“Entering the flow state and understanding how to get the brain focused on your tasks is the most rewarding human challenge”

Previous articles are written like taking action and being too busy still are very true. But it really is about working smarter not harder.

What is the Flow State Of Mind?

People also refer to the term ‘flow state of mind’ as being in the zone.

The mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energised focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.

Why is Flow So Important?

Flow is one of the only times the brain produces all five chemicals norepinephrine, dopamine, endorphins, anandamide, and serotonin. These five neurochemicals the brain releases during Flow is credited to increase performance. This makes the “flow state” one of the most pleasurable, meaningful and — literally — addictive experiences available.

Executives in a state of flow are five times more productive than their counterparts. On a smaller scale, their research suggests that if you increase your time in the flow by 15 to 20 per cent, you can double productivity.

The metaphor of flow is one that many people have used to describe the sense of effortless action they feel in moments that stand out as the best in their lives. Athletes refer to it as “being in the zone,” religious mystics as being in “ecstasy,” artists and musicians as “aesthetic rapture.”

How to Stay Focused?

Do entrepreneurs ask how to get into a focused state of mind and avoid distractions?

Yes absolutely.

What prompted this article was me being recently asked: “How do you induce a flow state?” or “How do I get into study zone?” or

Trying to get the brain flow state is key to significant contributions of growth.

I have compiled a list of things on how to stay in flow state you need to do if you want to stay focused and in the flow state of mind:

Clear sense of purpose

You need to feel an authentic connection to the meaning behind your work and the importance of this. You want to feel intrinsically connected to the purpose of your role. Rather than working for the paycheck or advancement, people’s actions are driven by both their personal and professional sense of purpose. You can tell because they’re passionate, committed, and innovative.

Challenge / Skills balance

These challenging circumstances stretch people to grow without completely overbearing them. It’s about hitting the sweet spot on the extent of the challenge given to the skills of the technician. You don’t want to have tasks too challenging as you will enter the state of anxiety. On the other hand, you do not want to have the task too easy or it will become boring. So it is hitting the state of flow which runs parallel between these two in the sweet spot.

Eliminate Distractions

Flow follows focus and if you have distractions you cannot enter the flow state of mind. It’s worth knowing the true cost of distractions. Try to fight it by planning time for distraction-free thinking and working. I have started to book in slots of time to switch off mobile, email and contact with anyone so I can solely focus on my given task. The biggest entrepreneurs prove this to be the key to success. Most people sleepwalk through work and life. Never feeling intensely focused because distracted constantly with social media and mobile phones. You will be amazed at how much time is wasted by these distractions. Productivity quadruples if you remain focused.

Create lists of small tasks to prevent poor planning

By acknowledging small wins, you give yourself momentum and ensure you’re completing real work. Ticking items off your list gives a feeling of completing tasks and is rewarding. As Will Smith famously said: “You don’t task yourself to build a wall but instead you task yourself to lay that brick as perfectly as that brick can be laid. Then within time, the wall will be built”. Having a plan helps to set small concise clear goals each day.

Have a Snack or Chew Gum

Yes, this sounds weird, but research shows that chewing gum increases the oxygen flow to the parts of your brain responsible for attention. It also improved your long-term memory and injects a bit of insulin into your blood which may help give your brain that added energy boost. If gum’s not your thing, have a snack. Your brain gets energy from glucose so giving it the fuel it needs can help enter into the flow state of mind.

Create Habits

The ability to repeat an activity on a daily basis over an extended period of time gives confidence. This is because all humans are creatures of habit. Cultivating the discipline to do these really small things, you’ll start to believe that you’re capable of change. You’ll build confidence. That way when you attempt to adopt a more difficult habit you’ll have momentum behind you.

Develop Flow Mindset

Knowing the flow state of mind is the best mentality to be in then manifest your thoughts into seeing why you are not in the current flow state. Challenge yourself more, develop skills if struggling to complete tasks. Be proud of even the smallest tasks if you have completed to the best of your ability. With the power of the brain, you can direct your mindset into entering the flow state more easily.

The power of when

People are at their best at certain times of the day which could be an early 6 am start or late at night. To learn more about your best time zones visit the power of when which highlights individuals’ most productive time zones. When you realise your best time zone you need to concentrate on what you need to complete. Make the effort to actually start doing it. This can be one of the hardest things – to actively stop fluffing about. Knuckle down and take the action necessary to fulfil your task. You can generally sustain “the zone” for about 2 hours and after “the zone” the rest of your day is pretty much lightweight by comparison. You complete your tasks but the burst of huge productivity is over.

Improve Every Day by Practising Regularly

According to pioneering research by Anders Ericsson at Florida State University in Tallahassee, it normally takes 10,000 hours of practice to become expert in any discipline. Over that time, your brain knits together a wealth of new circuits. These eventually allow you to execute the skill automatically, without consciously considering each action. This will provide you with the skills to complete tasks with a sense of effortless action because you have practised thoroughly. Your Brain Is Like A Muscle so Train It: Many people go the gym training their muscles physically but forget the most important organ they have is their brain. Train this regularly and find out how powerful your brain is in this article – your brain is your bitch.

Improve Every Single Day

Recently I have been noticing in my working day the productivity has been dropping and been trying to look at why I cannot get my to-do list down even though I am grafting some days 18 hours.

People automatically think there must be one thing that is draining my time and energy but I could not put my finger on it until someone recommended that I listened to Sam Ovens about death by a thousand cuts and everything fit into place.

Check this video out on sam ovens focus and flow state of minds:

Sam Ovens is a super-smart guy who has a huge YouTube following simply because he churns out great content and persistently.

He needs super focused systems and processes for this to happen so follow the guy and learn from these successful online entrepreneurs.

Draining Mental Bandwidth

All the distractions drain your mental bandwidth and it is this that kills your productivity.

So many people are obsessed with money but do not give this same attitude to their time which is shocking.

This article on wasted time is worse than wasted money is so true and entrepreneurs need to understand this quickly.

In years to come then watch a profession which will grow but is not yet a role in society.

Business Owners hire Financial Advisors but in years to come the best hire they will ever make will be Time Advisors. Wasted time is worse than wasted money and therefore true entrepreneurs will look at Time Advisors to help their management in tasks

If you are not wasting your time then your mental bandwidth will be at full capacity and business will start to boom – period.

Improve Everyday

How long does it take to refocus after a distraction?

It takes 23 mins and 15 seconds (from professional studies) once distracted to get back on your flow state.

It is crazy when people ask “How long does it take to get into the zone?” and the answer is 23 minutes and 15 seconds from studies.

Many workers believe it only takes less than five minutes and this shows the importance of lack of distractions.

23 mins and 15 seconds flow state

Typical distractions could be texts, emails, phone calls, social media or being within your busy work office.

Productivity quadruples when you don’t have distractions and you enter your flow state.

Decide what is important to you and remove anything non-essential from your life. This will allow you to stay focused on the things that are.

Thinking is The Hardest Work

OMG James Dooley you are crazy to say thinking is the hardest work? If this is what you are thinking then watch this video summarising the book. It is by Napoleon Hill and it’s called Think and Grow Rich.

Pretty crazy and I have watched this video about 50 times over the last few years. This keeps me focused on making sure I am forward-thinking and setting up my SOPs so that I can be delegating the daily work to free up more time for myself to plan ahead and improve our existing processes.

What are some key characteristics of flow?

The characteristics of flow are:

  1. Complete concentration on the task ahead
  2. Flow tasks become “autotelic” (become self-motivating)
  3. The feeling of control over the goals set
  4. Clarity of the tasks needed to be completed
  5. Actions and awareness are merged
  6. Time goals assigned to the given task
  7. Ease of task given with the full understanding
  8. The experience is intrinsically rewarding mentally
  9. The balancing act between challenge vs skills
  10. A heightened sense of control which reduces stress and anxiety (neuroses)
  11. Become immersed in the activity
  12. Intrinisic motivation to improve on the task ahead

State of mind the psychology of control

The Psychology Of Control unveils the answers about whether humanity will meet its destiny?

Are we controlled and if so to what extent and by whom?

Can you remove distractions of social media and kick out the addictions of social media?

When it comes to the Psychology Of Control can we really train our brain like we train our muscles at the gym?

The autotelic personality is very rewarding and you can practice meditation and other exercises which allows you to improve your self-motivation.

Not just completing tasks because asked but actually being immersed in the activity and enjoying the completion is the autotelic flow you want to be trying to enter.


Understanding the state of mind focus mentally and just how long distractions take made me realise the issue I wrote in this opening paragraph:

“Personally I have been struggling to keep up to date on my work even if grafting 70 hours plus. Yet if I went on holiday and worked several hours per day I could get myself clear and up to date.”

I have understood the power of delegation, SOPs and processes and implemented this over the years. But never really realised the true negative power of distractions and how long it takes the brain to refocus.

My personal goals are to take myself out of these distractions by working from home more, travelling more and not focusing too much on social media, text messages, WhatsApp and other distractions when in the office.

If I can work less but achieve more then this needs to be the plan moving forward. This will allow me more thinking time to fine-tune existing processes, refine SOPs and create new ideas for the company to blossom further.

For anyone who likes articles like this, listen to this podcast which is by far the best interview I have ever heard with Tony Robbins and Peter Diamandis – I just think this is so inspirational and motivates me every time I listen to this podcast.

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