“The flow state is an optimal state of intrinsic motivation, where a person is fully immersed in what she/he is doing. This is a feeling everyone has at times, characterized by a feeling of great absorption, engagement, fulfillment, and skill—and during which temporal concerns (time, food, ego-self, etc.) are typically ignored.”

– Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Reaching The Flow State

A High Level of Skills

All our concentration must be dedicated to the activity. In sports, we must reach a certain level of competence in order to achieve the state of flow, also defined as ‘competitive trance’. It is less known that the same concept is also applicable at work.

A Complex Challenge

The activity itself must be engaging, while also being balanced with our level of skills.

Immediate Feedback

Feedback allows us to adjust performance to stay in the flow state, so it’s important to have someone, like a manager, to continuously show support.

Stress Area: The Red Zone corresponds to a high-stress state. Stress can come from either insufficient skills or an excessive workload. Typically, you feel burned out quickly if you stay in the high-stress zone for too long.

Learning Area: The Orange Zone corresponds to a moderate stress state. The challenge level is slightly higher than the skill level.

Flow Area: The Flow State is an optimal state of intrinsic motivation. This is where you are fully immersed and your skills and challenges are balanced.

Performance Area: The Green Zone corresponds to when your skills are slightly higher than your challenges.

Boredom Area: The Blue Zone corresponds to a low-stress state where your skills are being underused. You may be productive enough, yet feel that you could be doing so much more.

The 7 Pillars

To enter the state of flow:

1. Goals, objectives, and tasks must be clear.
2. Feedback should be continuous and unambiguous.
3. Individuals should feel in control of actions and output.
4. Skill and challenge level must be reasonably high.