Have you ever been so involved in doing something that you lost track of time? Everything around you – phone ringing, people talking, traffic noise – all seemed to fade away. Your attention was focused entirely on what you were doing, and you were so engaged that you might not have even noticed that you were tired or hungry or needed to go to the bathroom.
You felt energised and happy about what you were doing. When you finished, you saw the results of your work, and this increased your sense of pride and satisfaction.
In the world of positive psychology, this is called ‘being in the flow’. In work, being in the flow can help us to be more productive, achieve greater job satisfaction and reduce stress levels. While in the state of flow, you can be completely focused on one task, forget about yourself and the world around you, feel happy and in control and become more creative and productive.
In work, being in the flow means quality over quantity. It means the ability to focus on tasks long enough to complete them. And it means you enjoy your work more.
To help you get ‘in the flow’, here are a few tips:
- Choose to work in what you love. If you enjoy something already it is very easy to get lost in it. If you don’t like your work, it becomes a drudge rather than a joy. If you are currently in a job you don’t like try to work towards finding work you enjoy more.
- Make sure your work is challenging, but not too hard. A task should be challenging enough to require your full concentration but not so difficult that you spend all of your time trying to figure out how to do it.
- Find your best time to work. This time needs to be quiet, so that you can concentrate. But it also needs to happen when you have good energy levels. For everyone this is different. Some people are morning people, some evening people. Our energy levels are cyclical. Notice when you have the most energy and when it is easiest for you to get stuff done. And notice when you usually feel tired and need to rest. Knowing all of this will help you to plan when is best for you to do work projects.
- Enjoy it. Losing yourself in the flow feels great. Enjoy making progress on a project or important task. Take time to appreciate this feeling.
We spend so much of our lives working, so it is important to get our working lives working for us. They need to support us more than just financially.
Work has such an impact on our mental health; imagine if it were enjoyable, rewarding and challenging. Ultimately, finding your flow in work can have a very positive knock on effect on you and on the rest of your life.
Jannah Walshe is a counsellor and psychotherapist based in Castlebar and Westport. A fully accredited member of The Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, she can be contacted via www.jannahwalshe.ie. firstname.lastname@example.org or 085 1372528.