Getting in the Zone: Finding Flow in the Everyday

I’m sure you’ve heard of people “getting in the zone.” Often, athletes describe themselves as being in the zone during a tough game. It’s this magical feeling when you’re focused like a laser on the task at hand and everything seems effortless and natural. Everything just flows.

Dr. Csikszentmihalyi (Cheek-sent-me-hi) is the pioneer academic and expert on “flow.” His work describes flow as an optimal psychological state that occurs when someone’s skill level is matched to the challenge at hand. This results in immersion and concentration/focus on the task.

I’m guessing most people have experienced flow. Maybe you were reading a great book or working a busy shift at the restaurant. You didn’t have to struggle or give anything much thought and time just seemed to fly by.

That’s flow, or being in the zone as many people call it, but it doesn’t have to be reserved for professional athletes. In order to live more joyous, fulfilling lives, we should be seeking flow states whenever we can get them.

Here are five ways to try to find flow in your everyday life.

1. Remove All Distractions

In order to have any chance of feeling the flow, you have to focus on one thing at a time. This means putting down the smartphone, turning off the TV, and finding a space that’s conducive to whatever task you’re doing.

A ping from your cell phone can literally ruin your flow. And smart phones were designed to compete (and win) for our attention.

So, remove all distractions in order to have any hope of getting in the zone and finding that flow in your daily life.

2. Do One Thing at a Time

Studies have shown that no one can actually multi-task. Our brains are made for focused, one-thing-at-a-time concentration.

That means, you need to close all those windows on your computer, turn of the TV, and, once again, put that smartphone down. Better yet, put it in another room.

Engage in just one activity at a time to increase your chances of getting in the zone. If you’re writing, only write. If you’re cooking, just cook. Exercising? You guessed it. Don’t check emails between sets. Do one thing at a time to increase your odds of finding flow.

3. Take up a Hobby

Hobbies can give you a unique opportunity to increase your skill level and really challenge yourself. Since flow requires our skill level to match the task at hand, a hobby can give you the chance to practice one thing over and over, eventually letting you experience that effortless flow.

Whether it’s sewing, swimming, or writing that novel, as you challenge yourself and your skill level increases, your chance of getting in the zone will also increase.

Keep in mind, if the activity is too challenging, it will be more frustration than flow, so either keep practicing or find a new hobby.

4. Challenge Yourself

Our daily routine can quickly become monotonous. This can put us on autopilot as we go about our day, the opposite of finding flow.

To shake things up and increase your odds of getting in the zone, you need to try new things. If work is becoming too easy and repetitive, you may need to push yourself by asking for a promotion or taking on new responsibilities. If your kids are off to school and your days are easy and quiet, you may need to set some tougher goals for yourself by taking on a remodeling project or cooking more ambitious dinners.

By adding challenge to your everyday routine, you’re much more likely to feel the optimal focus of flow.

5. Make Time for Play

Play naturally has all the ingredients of flow. When we’re playing, our focus is on the game, we are absorbed in that one activity, and we are enjoying ourselves.

So if all else fails, make room for play during your day to make getting in the zone more likely.

Final Thoughts on Getting in the Zone

Getting in the zone, or finding flow, in our everyday lives requires us to challenge ourselves. It requires us to focus on just one thing at a time. If an activity is too difficult, we will be frustrated. If it’s too easy, we’ll be bored. And if an activity is no fun, we obviously won’t have any fun.

So, we need to try activities throughout our day that are fun, challenging, and engaging or make what we’re already doing more fun challenging, and engaging than it is today. Then, we need to put everything we have into that one activity. No distractions or multi-tasking allowed.

Only then will we find the flow in the everyday.

Good luck getting in the zone. May you find flow today and every day after.

Clay Drinko is the author of Theatrical Improvisation, Consciousness, and Cognition and “The Improv Paradigm.” Clay is a certified English Language Arts and Drama teacher with a doctorate in drama and theatre studies and a Master’s in Education. Enjoy his writing about improv and play in everyday life at his website and follow him on Facebook , Twitter, and Instagram.


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11 Responses to Getting in the Zone: Finding Flow in the Everyday

  1. +-Life. says:

    Thanks for writing this!

    For myself, I think that taking things at my own pace also contributes to getting in the flow state a lot easier.

    I realise that if I have to rush through a task, I’ll be less likely to enter flow.

  2. Clay Drinko says:

    You’re welcome!

    That makes a lot of sense. We have to be fully invested in whatever it is we’re doing to have any hope of finding flow. When I feel rushed, I’m thinking about something else I need to do later, and that truly ruins the moment for me.

    Thanks so much for your insightful comment and for reading the post.

  3. Floranet says:

    Worth Appreciating. Great work.

  4. Nice article and thanks for sharing this to us.

  5. A worthful article and I try to these things put up on my life.

  6. This article really helps me a lot. Thanks for sharing this useful and informative article. Good job….

  7. Aditya Tyagi says:

    A wonderful article and I follow these things.

  8. Movies and TV Shows have always been one of the easiest way to entertain ourselves. There are a number of ways using which you can watch Movies, etc. Most of the population like to watch movies in cinema halls. But still there are so many people who do enjoy movies on their Android phones and desktops. If you’re also one of them, then you are surely gonna love this article.

  9. Aditya Tyagi says:

    Best article and thanks for sharing this article.

  10. tutuapp says:

    I’m glad that there are people who still care more about cultural development and education.

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