You may have landed on this page because you have read, or are reading, my latest book, Attention Management: How to Create Success and Gain Productivity Every Day! , and you’d like to learn a bit more about flow.

Personally, I think flow is a fascinating topic, and I have learned the most about it from the work of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Daniel Goleman. I think of attention management as the path to flow.

Csikszentmihalyi and others describe flow as a state of heightened focus and immersion. You become so engrossed in your work or other activity, that time seems to fly, and, at the end, you feel a sense of satisfaction—like you have really accomplished something. The flow state illustrates that demanding tasks don’t have to be “hard” or unpleasant, even though we often expect that they will be. In fact, the opposite is true. When we can apply our “brainpower” in a meaningful way at work, our jobs get more satisfying. When we can bring our full selves to our relationships and experiences, life becomes richer. I call it “unleashing your genius.”

attention management flow by Maura Thomas

You can’t just decide to enter the Flow quadrant (see my article on the 4 quadrants of attention management here) at will, but if the conditions are right and if you intentionally focus for long enough, you might just tip over into flow. According to Daniel Goleman, It’s when a specific part of the brain disengages and your sense of self falls away. Control isn’t necessary, because when you enter flow, focus becomes effortless. You are fully attentive and absorbed in the task at hand. Flow isn’t a behavior; it’s a state your brain enters on its own when the right conditions are present.

Here is an article by Daniel Goleman that explains this. And Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is the Hungarian-born psychologist who documented flow as a discrete psychological state that our mind enters, and operates differently than when we’re not in flow. You can watch him talk about it here:

Flow by Mihaly CsikszentmihalyiYou might also enjoy his book: Flow, The Psychology of Optimal Experience

(Admittedly, the book is a little “heavy.” If you’re not up for it, you might try the summary on Blinkist.)

Focus by Daniel GolemanDaniel Goleman also wrote a great book that has informed my learning, called Focus, The Hidden Driver of Excellence.

You can also get the summary of this one on Blinkist, here.

Attention Management book by Maura ThomasIf you didn’t land on this page because you saw it in my book, you can check that out here.

I describe how I believe flow to be an important component of attention management.