Learning In The State Of Flow: 5 Ways To Tap Into It

Discover Learning In The State Of Flow
Summary: We’ve all at least once in our lives experienced that feeling of "being in the zone" or "lost in the moment." That’s what some call the state of flow.

Discover Learning In The State Of Flow

You may not realize that the mental state of flow is in action when it actually kicks in. Why? Well, it is when a person functions at their optimal ability that they lose the sense of everything around them while totally immersing themselves in a given task. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is the psychologist who developed the theory of flow. According to Csikszentmihalyi, flow is "a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter." Flow can be achieved by anyone, no matter the person’s age, gender, culture or class. From musicians, athletes, artists, and sportsmen to employees in the workplace, there’s no restriction on who can unlock this potential—given the right circumstances.

Make Your Business Flow

Organizations that have a heavy focus on training and development can utilize flow to their advantage, bettering and speeding up the way employees learn new knowledge and close knowledge gaps. Employees need to be engaged in order to enter the flow state. Without interactions that engage employees, the likelihood of them reaching a state of flow is drastically reduced.

5 Ways Of Boosting The Odds Of Tapping Into Flow

Entering the flow state isn’t guaranteed, but here are 5 ways that employers can promote the likelihood of flow developing in their workplace among their employees.

1. Offer Interesting And Relevant Knowledge

Covering the necessary training material is vital, but giving them stimulating learning experiences that intrigue them and keep them interested can be a game-changer. Trainers and managers need to understand their employees’ passions and interests—connecting them to training that ultimately keeps them engaged. Perhaps this means investing more effort and time in making training material relevant and appropriate from them while adapting it in order to get employee buy-in and active interest in training.

2. Develop A Deep Sense Of Focus

Focusing seems like a common daily task but it shouldn’t be taken for granted. In order to enter a state of flow, the focus needs to be intentionally activated by the employee. Through exercises such as mindfulness and meditation, which bring attention to focus, the chances of entering flow are greatly enhanced. For example, before an employee begins a piece of learning, they should attempt to engage in a focus and attention exercise, to boost the possibility of entering a flow state.

Company culture plays a vital role in this aspect. In open-space workplaces, it may be difficult to concentrate due to distractions from co-workers and peers. By having a quiet space that allows employees to meditate and practice mindfulness, there is a greater potential to activate flow within employees once they begin learning.

3. Ensure Feedback And Freedom

Employees need freedom for self-evaluating and feedback not only from others but also themselves. By constantly evaluating their progress through metrics and results from dashboards, employees can gain a better understanding of their own progress and direct their learning efforts in the right direction. Each feedback measure that employees give themselves can translate into building a clearer picture, establishing that efforts are heading in the right direction that they established for themselves.

Freedom also refers to the idea of eliminating self-scrutiny from employee attitudes. Sometimes, it is recommended that employees give themselves the freedom and permission to have no rules on a given exercise for a given period. The idea of this practice is to reach a "zen-like" state of an automatic and effortless workflow. An exercise that simply frees the mind from limiting thoughts.

4. Prevent Distractions

In today’s age of training, employees can learn remotely from anywhere, at any time and on any device. Mobile learning is not just a buzz word or a fad, it is part of the movement toward quicker and more effective learning practices. Learning while using public transport is convenient but probably not the wisest of ideas if an employee is trying to enter a state of flow. It is the responsibility of the employees to know if they will be susceptible to distractions while learning remotely.

5. Stretch Employee Ability

It’s also believed that in order to reach a state of flow, employees should stretch themselves past their comfort zone—each time pushing a little more past their regular ability. For example, training can be designed to not only just satisfy the learning need but to get them to achieve learning that truly challenges them, causing them to dedicate significant mental energy into the training and reach closer to the state of flow.

Benefits Of Flow

Flow leads to improved performance and creativity, driving motivation and stretching employees to function and think at their highest levels possible. When an employee invests intense energy and focus into a task, they are making a commitment and a dedicated effort. This effort leads that person to boost creativity, opening channels for new ideas, sometimes intentionally and other times unintentionally.

Ultimately, flow is that "a-ha" moment when you look back at something you said, wrote or did without knowing how you got to it. Trainers, managers, and L&D professionals should consider training programs that are designed to lead to a higher state of concentration, getting employees to attain and enter the flow state.