"Work smarter, not harder," is what nearly every productivity guide and self-help book out there identifies as the path to on-the-job success. One effective way to work smarter is taking advantage of the "flow state."
The flow state is a psychological concept that describes being "in the zone" while working; it's the attitude where you have complete focus and move through tasks swiftly and seamlessly. You are so absorbed in your work that the hours tick by without you noticing. This state of mind is similar to what athletes feel when they are competing, performing optimally without thinking about it.
Work benefits of the flow state
Your body undergoes physiological changes when you enter the flow state. Activity in the frontal cortex, which is the part of your brain that ponders the self and is easily distracted, significantly slows down, as Trevor Vaughan, co-founder of productivity firm Mettaflow, explained in an article for Thrive Global.
When used for work tasks, the flow state has the potential to drive productivity through the roof. Vaughan cited a McKinsey study that found that increasing the time employees are in the flow state just 15-20 percent can nearly double productivity.
Being in the flow state more often at the office has benefits for not only work but also overall job satisfaction, Steven Kotler, a bestselling author and journalist on productivity science, told Fast Company.
"The amount of time someone spends in flow has a massive and powerful correlation to life satisfaction," said Kotler.
Giving employees more opportunities to enter the flow state at work can lead to more efficient and happier humans, a win-win for your organization.
Ways to help employees get in the flow state
So how can you encourage employees to be in the flow state more often at work? Try the methods below:
Give employees more control over their schedules
Some people are most productive early in the morning, others after lunch. Give employees more flexibility and freedom in structuring their days so they can schedule large blocks of uninterrupted time when it suits them best.
Match projects to skills
Flow state researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi told Entrepreneur magazine that there needs to be a balance between skill and challenge for someone to get into the zone of hyper focus. Keep this in mind when assigning projects to employees.
Use unified communications to keep all work materials within easy reach
Nothing ruins the flow state like having to search for a spreadsheet or document. UC enables employees to always have the resources they need front and center.