How Flow State Can Make Digital Marketers More Productive
Picture this… You’re finalizing a new digital campaign strategy that should be launched in four weeks.
You have a whole team of content creators, designers, and web developers – and setting goals, expectations, and milestones will put them into action.
This campaign launch is one of your most important tasks of the quarter.
So you take your coffee, sit down, open the documents…
It’s someone on Slack. One of the popups on the website isn’t working, and the new team member doesn’t know how to fix it.
You give them a quick call.
Now, back to the strategy.
Just two minutes later, the VP of Marketing taps your shoulder to request a report on your social media performance for the week.
Sound familiar? If this is how your workday goes, you’re not alone.
Gallup found that the average time people spent on any one task before they were interrupted or switched gears was fair Three minutes.
The price of interruption is high. It reduces productivity and makes you feel like you’re constantly busy but never getting anything done.
At the end of the workday, you feel exhausted and exhausted, but your most important (strategic) task has yet to be accomplished. You are not satisfied with your results and always feel pressured to do more.
You run faster and faster in the hamster wheel but with every task you finish, three new urgent tasks appear.
This is especially true of marketers. We are bound by notifications and social media engagements, handle other departments (SEO, SEA, design, copywriters), deliver client meetings and team calls, and receive a flood of emails.
There is a better way: flow state.
Get more done with more ease
Flow is the state where we feel our best and give our best.
You know it as being in the area.
You might be in a deep conversation with a friend and all of a sudden, two hours have passed.
Or, you’re writing a quick email and it turns into an 800-word article. We call these partial flow experiences.
The aggregate flow represents great experiences of loneliness when a sense of self fades away, and time speeds up or slows down. Most importantly, the task at hand feels easy, innovative, and motivating.
The term “flow” was coined by positive psychology pioneer, Mihaly Czeksentmihalyi, in 1975. You may have experienced it when you dance, run, paint — or work.
The ultimate streaming experience Is characterized by:
- Intense, focused focus on the present moment.
- Merge action and awareness.
- Reflexive loss of self-awareness.
- A sense of personal control or agency over a situation or activity.
- Distortion of time experience, one’s subjective experience of time is altered.
- The experience of the activity is intrinsically rewarding, also referred to as the spontaneous experience.
The benefits of more flow in your work life are clear: you’ll get more done, with more ease and with better results.
Flow is the antidote to busyness.
How to turn on streaming as a marketer
To experience more flow in your work life, it’s important to manage your environment and understand your flow triggers.
I learned about flow science from Steven Kotler and the Flow Research Collective, where they train executives and knowledge workers.
Below, I’ll share some practices that have allowed me to reshape my work day. Today, I can confidently say that I experience prolonged periods of flow several times each week.
in their studies about Finding and reinforcing meaning in actionMcKinsey found that:
“…when they ask executives during a peak performance exercise how much more productive they were at their peak than they were on average, (…) most commonly at senior levels is An increase of five times. “
If you’re interested in being five times more productive, read on.
Create your tasks the day before
Flow follows focus. This is why we need to be completely clear about deviations.
All too easily, our mind gets pulled in all directions with a dopamine rush of urgent notifications and tasks.
Make it a habit to set your daily goals the day before. I know that I can get 2 to 5 important tasks done per day. Writing this article might be one of them – or sending a detailed proposal to a new prospect for my agency.
Choosing important tasks the day before allows me to focus on first thing in the morning.
Not checking emails, project management tools, or Slack when I start my work day. I already know what I have to do, and I’m right about that.
Plan focus blocks time
How do you get through all of your client meetings and team calls, but not the tasks you set for yourself?
Because these meetings are blocked on your calendar. They set the tempo and the time frame.
If you’re looking for a little more flow in your work life, start making appointments with yourself. Make it frequent. I rarely get calls in the morning. My calendar opens around 2 p.m.
If you’re doing this for the first time, blocking your entire morning may seem impossible.
But you don’t have to start out so bold. Start small. Book a 30-minute session with yourself one day next week. Then book another one. And one more.
Close all windows, tabs and tools. Focus on that one task. Once you realize how much you can accomplish in 30 minutes, you will find it easier to carve out time for yourself.
Parkinson’s Law states that “work expands to fill the time available for its completion.”
This means that you have to be rigorous with deadlines and time. Set a time for your work, and don’t let it extend beyond that container.
Eliminate distractions and notifications
Our phones, Slack, social media, emails, and project management tools are both a curse and a blessing. For the past year, I’ve been running six social media channels in addition to my usual work – and ended up doing nothing.
Between responding to all comments after posting, reviewing notifications, and monitoring chat and direct messages, I didn’t have a moment of silence once a day. No time to focus, nothing is done.
To get the most out of your focus time, you need to turn off notifications.
Close your email inbox and Slack.
Sign out of the project management tools and social media channels.
You will feel cold turkey. Notifications give us a rush and a sense of urgency and importance. By turning off notifications, you are literally rewiring your brain’s reward system.
Clean up your desk
On the topic of reducing distraction, let’s clean up your workplace. Clear out piles of papers, candy bars, and sticky notes. Make sure you have a clean, open surface.
You will find that this reduces the friction of starting the task at hand and reduces the cognitive load. Instead of lots of stimulating and confusing input, you focus your attention on the task at hand.
If you’re in a busy office (and yes, that could be at home with your family), noise canceling headphones may help.
Take advantage of the challenge/skill ratio
Now, here’s the thing: By choosing your tasks and scheduling uninterrupted time, you focus your attention. Again, flow follows focus.
However, doing the same old task over and over may not get you into the flow — even if you block time and turn off Slack.
This is because the state of flow is caused by curiosity, passion, novelty, complexity, and risk-taking.
To experience flow, you’ll want to challenge yourself to do something beyond your comfortable zone of intimacy. However, it is important that it stretches and does not explode.
We’re not looking for the next project so huge and unattainable that it keeps you up at night with nightmares.
To experience flow, there needs to be a balance between your skill and the demands of the task at hand. The magic ratio is about 4% Harder than you feel comfortable with.
So, it’s a 4% challenge every day with each task to push your awareness into the here and now, keep you on your toes, and get you going with the flow.
A score of 4% means that you are improving your graphic design process by trying new technology.
You’re trying a bolder version than usual.
Or maybe you’re aiming to rank for a keyword a bit more difficult than the previous goals.
Take a break for a walk or move
Do you find yourself struggling with a task? Research, discussion and brainstorming but don’t come to the right conclusion?
We have good news! You are exactly where you are supposed to be.
Flow is a four-part cycle:
In your case, it may be time to move from the struggle phase (input, search) to the release phase.
Get up from your desk. take a deep breath. stretch.
Let go of the thing you are striving for. The goal is to break a pattern and change gears.
Anything works to take your mind off a challenge: take a walk, do five minutes of yoga, make lunch, meditate, or dance wildly around the room.
The method does not matter, relax.
Struggle gives way to release creating space for flow.
It is likely that when you return to your desk, you will fall right into the flow.
Active recovery scheduler
Remember I mentioned recovery as part of the flow cycle a little earlier? Recovery is probably the most overlooked part of the flow cycle.
However, it is one of the most important components to sustainably achieving flow states.
Active recovery isn’t sitting on the couch with a bag of chips watching TV. As convenient as it may sound, TV inputs actually don’t give your brain a break. Plus, your body has been sitting in a chair all day.
Elite athletes pay a lot of attention to their recovery. However, as knowledge workers and marketers, we tend to ignore it completely.
Try to include some active recovery protocols in your week. The Flow Research collective recommends the following:
- Get enough quality sleep (dark room, cooler temperature, no nearby screens, about eight hours).
- Cold/heat therapy (eg, ice baths, saunas).
- breathing concentration.
- Sensory deprivation rooms.
- Moderate exercise (such as a short run or a walk in nature).
- Good conversions come from high socialization.
- Yoga and massage.
Some are chasing the peaks of flow states.
However, if you include active recovery in your lifestyle, you make flow a sustainable life choice that will increase your productivity, lead to better results, and make you feel less impulsive while doing more.
When do you experience flow?
If all of this advice makes sense to you but scares you a little, I’ll leave you with this: The intangible benefits of flow states are quite clear to me – and many flow seekers.
It is not only the state where we perform our best but also feel our best.
Flow is what people feel when they are enjoying what they are doing when they don’t want to do anything else. What makes flow an intrinsic motivator? The evidence points to a simple answer: In flow, the human organism is operating at its maximum potential. When this happens, the experience is its own reward.
– Mihály Csíkszentmihályi
Before you plunge back into your busy life of short attention spans and immediate notices, let’s solidify the concept of flow by reflecting on your own personal flow experiences:
- When did you try Micro Flow today?
- When was the last time you had a deep macro flow experience?
- What have you done?
- who were you with
- What does your environment look like?
- How did you experience your flow as a child? What would you like to do?
- When was the last time you were interrupted to get an important task done?
- Do you commute during the workday or take breaks?
- Have you ever experienced active recovery?
Take these lessons to create a more flow-friendly work environment.
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Featured image: Kundra/Shutterstock