The New Year brings fresh hopes, a clean slate, and a renewed commitment to increase our impact. It is also a time to look back on the past year and think about what habits, practices, attitudes, and relationships are serving us and which ones are holding us back. Ready to make 2018 the best year ever? As small business owners (and people who share the dream of becoming small business owners), we know that time is money. Make 2018 the year that you invest time and energy into making small tweaks that deliver real impact by exploring the powerful effects of flow.
Flow is the state of feeling and performing at your best, when your work is effortless, when you are lost yet completely present, immersed, and focused. When we are in flow, we are in the zone. When we are in flow, we are more creative and more productive. But flow isn’t just about unlocking engagement and impact at work. Flow is about our ability to take care of our wellness, our bodies, and work-life balance. Better yet, flow is associated with phenomenal results. According to research by McKinsey and Company, when you increase your time in flow by 15 to 20%, you can double your productivity.
So, how do you get into flow and stay there more often? Below are several ways to increase flow at work and in your life in 2018.
How you think about challenges and obstacles makes a difference in how quickly and successfully you can tackle them. I’m a raving fan of Angela Duckworth’s book, Grit, and Carol Dweck’s book Mindset. While Duckworth makes a case for resilience—what she calls grit—as a key ingredient in overcoming obstacles at work and in your life, Dweck offers a deep dive in the psychology of positive thinking. Both of these insightful writers essentially offer words of wisdom with a common theme: If you approach challenges as opportunities (not obstacles), you’ll already be ahead of the pack.
Get Clear on the Outcome, Stay Flexible on the Approach
You can’t reach an outcome if you don’t have one. Personally, I like to set both short- and long-term outcomes. But that’s just the beginning. To achieve your outcomes, you need to remain flexible. I recommend coming up with at least three different ways to get the result you want. For example, if your outcome for the day is to write a blog post, your approach may involve writing it yourself, generating a draft and outsourcing the writing to a team member, or outsourcing the entire process to a team member.
A Stitch in Time, Saves Nine
While the adage, “a stitch in time, saves nine,” may be old, the sentiment remains true and relevant in our wired world. Taking critical time out to prepare, specify outcomes, collect resources, and align interests, invariably will save you time, money, and stress. Planning leads to better execution.
Live in the Learning zone
We feel most alive, most engaged, and most inspired when we’re in the learning zone – that sweet spot when we are engaged and challenged but not over stressed. It is a productive space in which we are generating ideas, growing, changing and reaching new heights.
Make it Bad, Make it Better
It may sound counter intuitive but sometimes, the best way to move quickly and ramp up your productivity is to make it bad and then make it better. Freeing yourself to make it bad is one way to tap into your creativity. After all, when we are free to fail, we are also free to experiment, innovate, and discover things we might never stumble across while playing it safe. Also, despite the fact that I appreciate perfectionism (in the right place and at the right time), all too often perfection is our enemy. Sometimes, like it or not, “good enough” really is good enough to get by and move on to the next task.
About the author
Dr. Camille Preston, founder, and CEO of AIM Leadership, has over 20 years of experience helping individuals and teams reach their peak performance. A recognized thought leader, Camille is a sought-after speaker and the author of two books: Rewired and Create More Flow.