The Power of Flow: How to Achieve Peak Productivity

Do you want to be productive? What about achieving peak productivity?

The fact is, there is a difference between being merely productive and having peak productivity. If you have peak productivity, your output will increase multiple folds. You will be able to finish things in a much shorter time than normal.

I had an experience recently that describes this difference. I had an app in mind that I’d like to develop. But because it’s a pretty big app, I just kept it on the back of my mind. Then one day I decided to just jump into it. And you know what? After spending more than ten focused hours on it, I was able to finish the app in one day!

I was amazed because the app that I thought was still far away in the future was now in my hand.

How could that happen? How could I be so productive? Well, it all came down to the power of flow.

Flow is the experience of being so absorbed by the task at hand that you lose track of time. The outside world is tuned out. It’s only you racing through the task. In such a state, you can go through your task at top speed. That’s how you achieve peak productivity.

If you want to achieve peak productivity, get into the flow and stay there.

There are many examples of productivity breakthrough through the power of flow. Theodore Roosevelt worked this way to finish his books. Bill Gates and Paul Allen also worked this way to finish their first product that launched Microsoft.

The Benefits of Working in the Flow

There are two main benefits of working in the flow:

1. You will build momentum. When you work in the flow, you will build momentum. You will go increasingly faster through your task until you reach top speed. This momentum is what allows you to accomplish a lot more in the same amount of time.

2. You will be happy. There is a surprising benefit of working in the flow: not only will you be productive, but also you will be happy. It’s satisfying to beat challenge after challenge as you go through your task. It’s similar to the satisfaction you’d get from winning in a video game.

How to Work in the Flow

So how can you work in the flow? Here are some tips.

1. Do just one task.

This is essential. As I have written above, working in the flow is about building momentum. Working on more than one task, however, kills momentum. Why? Because it has switching costs. You need some time to adjust your mind from one task to another. You can’t reach your top speed that way.

2. Be obsessed with completion.

To be in the flow, you need to be obsessed with completion. You need to have a great desire to see the task done. It’s this obsession that glues you to the task for hours. You won’t stop until the task is done.

What if the task is huge? Then set a milestone to achieve and be obsessed with that.

3. Allocate a long block of time.

To build and maintain momentum, you need a long block time. If you only have a couple of hours, you won’t be able to reach your top speed. It’s similar to an aircraft that is about to take off. It needs a long enough runway to reach the speed to take off. Similarly, you need a long enough time to gain momentum.

4. Eliminate interruptions.

Because being in the flow is about building momentum, you need to eliminate interruptions. Interruptions kill momentum. It’s similar to a pilot who brakes on the runway before taking off. The aircraft won’t reach the speed it needs.

So do what is necessary to eliminate interruptions. Close the email tab on your browser. Put your phone away.

***

Do these four tips and you will work in the flow. And the result? You will reach a state of peak productivity.

– Related Book Summary –

17 Comments

  1. Great concept-I love it! Thanks Donald for sharing!

  2. Working on a new concept… This message is timely…thanks

  3. Thanks for sharing! I often seek to be extremely productive, but do find myself distracted by trying to work on too many things. I plan to implement more of block schedule to focus solely on one thing at a time. This is actually something I have been considering for some time.

  4. Thanks for sharing such a great concept within freen lines. The tools you have shared seems very useful.

  5. I CALL IT THE POWER OF FOCUS…

  6. Hi Donald,

    Another good post… I think especially point 3 is important. We underestimate how much time it takes to get into a flow. To block your calendar helps!

  7. “Working in the flow” If there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s this. That’s why, in my estimation, I’m able to achieve what so many take years to achieve, in months. — When I am at a task. I’m at it, and I wouldn’t mind completing it now. If there was a record, I’d be so interesting in breaking it. — Sometimes I wonder why I have this much drive, while it seem others only focus a few minutes and then that’s it.

  8. Great and Thank you

  9. Charles Bartholomew
    Charles Bartholomew

    Thank you,
    I have five project that I must pay attention every day.
    Is it possible that kind of doing things could be a limiting factor? What do you suggest?

    • Hi Charles,
      With five projects that require your attention daily, I don’t think you can apply the technique in this article. What you could try is allocating a focused block of time for each project daily.

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