Getting Rid of Distractions to Get Into the “Flow”

by Amy Steinberg Published May 15, 2018 Last updated May 15, 2018

We live in a distraction-heavy world these days. For many of us, the recipe for success is choosing to avoid most of the distractions that exist around us, creating sterile workplaces that keep us from noticing the outside.

What work gets our blood pumping?

Usually, the work that fuels us and gets us excited is engaging, creative, and involves real-world problems. If we cannot make the connection between our work and its impact on the rest of our lives, it gets harder and harder to find it engaging. So, let’s think about the work about which you are most passionate.

This work often represents what positive psychology terms “flow“, or total immersion in your tasks. It is the time when we use the biggest part of our creativity, put the best effort forward, and enjoy ourselves both in the moment and afterward since we feel accomplished. Work that we are not passionate about can be a distraction, it can pull us out of a “flow” state and lead to slower production.

Procedural Tasks

Most companies have a prescribed method of doing things, and they almost all come about for a reason. As companies grow, not every employee can be trained by the visionary founder, so a set of procedures is put in place that applies to lots of different employees, regardless of their style. While these procedures may be helpful for keeping new employees on the right track, it can become cumbersome to follow a procedure to the letter when you now know ways to save the company time by skipping a few steps.

Bureaucratic Tasks

Forms, emails, and budget management can all add to the time we spend on work that does not inspire us. Bureaucracy occurs when there are many layers of tasks between you and the desired outcome, like purchasing a piece of equipment, asking for a review, or scheduling a meeting. Bureaucracy exists to ensure a level of excellence, even redundant, communication and record-keeping, but in practice, it often simply slows people down, especially if these procedures are changed frequently and necessitate new training.

Reporting and Micro-Managing Tasks

Supervisors who can fully trust their teams waste very little time micro-managing, but for new teams or inexperienced managers, there can be a tendency to expect an excessive amount of reporting and micro-managing. When companies can’t strike a balance between appropriate oversight and task management, the best employees can be drawn away from the work that fulfills them.

Meetings You Don’t Need to Attend

One major source of distraction which can fall into any of the above categories involves meetings that aren’t directly connected to your own projects moving forward. This can be everything from big-picture retreats when your own mission and goals are already set, to detailed meetings where a document is being revised, in person, line by line. As companies are starting to realize just how few big-group meetings they need in the modern technological landscape, more of them are realizing that their best people should be focusing on their work, not participating in company-wide meetings.

The Right Work Minimizes Distractions and Maximizes Flow

Everyone finds themselves distracted at some point during their work, but the end goal should be spending more time in your flow state. Taking the time to notice, understand and eliminate unnecessary distraction will allow more time for focused productivity.

Perhaps you are curious as to just how great your output could be if you could cut a few distractions and add a few hours of flow every week. Not every new opportunity can offer you this kind of meaningful change. However, an intelligent career change, with the help of a supportive career manager, may be just the thing to inspire you and help you reach the next level.