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Relationship with time and Flow state: the king of time

Flow state is the holy grail in real life.

Why? Because time is our most valuable asset.

We can earn more money, we can get more experience, and we can fix everything over time, but one thing we all have in common – we don’t get our time back.

And then it comes to saving and managing time – the flow state is king.

Because the flow state is the most productive and most efficient state to be in.

Want to save time? Want to get more things done in less time?

In short: go with the flow!

This article is written in 2 parts. The first part is the foundation of the flow state.

And second part is the relationship with time.

Foundation of flow

Flow state mastery comes with mastery over time. (Pun intended)

In the state of flow, we can slow the time down, and we can speed it up. Does that sound powerful?

Now you might be curious…

What is this flow state?

In simple terms flow state is a state of ease and fluid mind, staying sharp and focused on the task at hand, maintaining concentration, and feeling energized while in the process.

It is a well-studied and documented process.

It is a skill that everyone can learn and practice.

And the best thing: it is quite straightforward.

Often flow state is described as harmony between challenge (stress) and skill. See the image below.

Here is a quick roadmap to the flow state

  1. Set Clear Goals: Define specific, challenging, and clear goals for the task at hand.

  2. Concentration: Eliminate distractions and create a focused environment. Prioritize the task and commit to concentrated effort. (i.e pomodoro technique)

  3. Immediate Feedback: Ensure you receive timely feedback on your progress. Adjust your approach based on this feedback.

  4. Challenge-Skill Balance: Ensure the difficulty of the task matches your skill level. Push yourself just beyond your comfort zone for optimal engagement.

  5. Deep Engagement: Fully immerse yourself in the activity. Minimize multitasking and focus on one task at a time.

  6. Clear Purpose: Understand the purpose and meaning behind the task. Connect emotionally to the outcome.

  7. Let go of time: Block out time to be in the present moment. Manage time so you don’t have to think about it.

  8. Enjoy the process: Find enjoyment and appreciation in the process itself, not just the end result.

It might seem like a lot of steps, however, once you get them, it’s just following your inner guidance to come back to flow.

Much like in meditation – bringing back the mind to the present moment.

Once you have the roadmap for the reference, the next step to flow is being able to detect it.

“What gets measured, gets done”

If you don’t measure your state of being, if you don’t have a clear reference point where you currently are, then you are just gambling and playing the lottery with life. One time it works, the other time it fails.

This is where mindfulness and meditation come into play.

The more mindful and more present you are with yourself – the easier it is to detect the state you are in.

What is the state you are looking for?

It’s the “in the zone” feeling.

Everyone has one in the past – connecting with that memory allows us to recognize it.

Flow state feels like the enjoyment of deep concentration on the task, to exclusion to anything else around, often losing track of time.

This is a state you want to aim for by adjusting variables in the roadmap above.

This is a holistic journey.

For example, it involves removing

  • physical distractions ( noises, notifications, etc.),

  • mental distractions (thought that we don’t have enough time)

  • emotional distractions (feeling that today we just don’t feel like it)

  • limiting beliefs (that we can’t do it consistently).

To aid your journey you can adopt a belief that has helped me a lot:

“All roads lead to flow”

So no matter where I find my current state, all I need to do is let go and come back to the flow state. This is easier with acceptance that I am already in the flow, just not being aware of it.

Now the challenge is to become aware of the flow and remove all the blocks and limitations to this awareness.

How do we get back to flow?

By knowing where our current state is in reference to the flow

By following the guidance of our feelings.

By following the best feeling thought I have at the moment.

By wanting to be in flow more than anything else.

By accepting ourselves and the flow state as our natural state.

By removing flow breakers.

Relationship with time

One of the most fascinating things about flow state for me is time.

A flow state can bend time.

It has proven to bend our individual perception of time.

It has also proven to be able to put us in peak performance where things just take less time to get done.

On the other side, our perception and relationship with time greatly impact our ability to enter the flow state.

Time pressure

Perception of time is subjective. It can be fast or slow. It can be easy and it can cause stress. It can be different for 2 people being in exact same conditions.

Since our perception of time is subjective, time pressure is also purely subjective.

And on only that, we have conscious control over how much time pressure we want to experience by access to our self-talk and imagination.

This is a very empowering realization because suddenly we have a variable we have control over in our challenge(stress)-skill equation to keep us in flow.

For example, if I feel under time pressure and feel like my project can’t be finished within a set limit of time, then this time pressure is additional stress (challenge) added to my challenge-skill equation.

This time pressure is great at the beginning. It helps me to get alert and focused on tasks.

However, as time goes by and I am already at the task, this same time pressure might not be needed.

It’s important to note that we can choose to pay attention to it or not. We can make it important or not.

We have a conscious control over the stress and pressure we experience in relationship with time. And this control allows us to stay in flow.

Regardless of the actual time I have and beliefs I have about my abilities to handle it at this time, the flow state is the best state to be in to get anything done in most efficient way.

Hence it makes sense to prioritize the flow over any other thought or belief.

By now you can notice how much our beliefs about time can determine our ability to perform and make decisions.

Personal time

Now, imagine time was a real person with thoughts, feelings, opinions, etc. Let’s call it Time (its name) to emphasize it.

Even more, Time is a close friend of yours. You do everything together. And it always gets you back. It always gives you whatever you need.

Now imagine Time hears you talking behind its back about it:

  • I don’t have time for…

  • It takes too much time to…

  • It’s hard to find time to…

  • I’m running out of time to…

  • I’m running against time to…

  • I’m pressed for time to…

  • I can’t afford to spend more time to…

  • I’m too busy to…

  • I wish it was faster…

  • It should not take so long to…

How do you think Time would feel about being blamed for everything in your life?

Regardless of how much Time has given to you, it seems like there is never enough. Time is always there with you, but in the end, all it gets is blame.

Do you think Time wants to spend more time with you or Time would rather hang out with other friends who appreciate it?

Most of us have these expressions automatically and we don’t think about them. We are so quick to blame Time.

But how often do we appreciate Time?

How often do we tell others how much we have appreciated Time?

  • I have all the time in the world…

  • I’m glad for the time it took to…

  • I’m grateful for the time I have…

If this is how we treat our Time, how much do you think we actually value it?

Sounds like there is a subconscious part in us, where we actually don’t value our time as much as we hope we do. And if we don’t value our time, what are the odds of us to wanting to save it?

This is an angle that most time management systems don’t address – our subconscious desire to save or waste time.

To make a long story short, when it comes to rewriting subconscious patterns we do it by writing new ones in.

The one I recommend is to practice a conscious appreciation of time.

This practice has profoundly shifted my perspective on time. It also has made a huge positive impact on how I show up and how I get perceived by others.

This has trained me to appreciate my time more and automatically want to do the things that take less time and are more effective.

It has helped me to stay in a flow state longer, deeper, and more consistent – even on challenging tasks.

Wasting time

To conclude this article I want to bring up a belief all of us had at some point in life. It’s a concept that there is such a thing as wasting time.

This excerpt from the book “Go-Giver” by Bob Burg has been most profound on me in accepting that no one else has the power to waste my time:

β€œYou want to make sure I’m not wasting your time. Fair enough.” Pindar smiled. β€œJoe, no offense, but you don’t have that power.” Joe looked confused. β€œI mean, the power to waste my time. Only I can do that. And truthfully, it’s a vice I gave up a long time ago. The reason for my Condition is that I don’t want to see you wasting your time.”

Accepting that no one else can waste my time has been game-changing for me. Now I have only one question to ask myself: do I really want this experience?

And appreciating my own time has been the biggest game changer for me not wanting to waste my own time.

Thank you for your time!

I trust it was magical!


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