What is Flow and Should I get into it as a Web Developer?

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Introduction

Currently the Flow State is still a magic to scientists just as the subconscious mind is to them — and to us. Yet, we can find ways to harness the magic without directly understanding from the ground up how it works. What’s important for us now is how we tap into this magic and find out why Flow State is dubbed as the ‘Ultimate Human Performance’.

What is Flow State?

You can think of the Flow State as a time where everything slows down, you lose track of time, you are completely absorbed by a semi-challenging task you have enough skill to for, that you will successfully complete the task, and that it’s just you and what’s in front of you.

For Athletes, it’s just you and the finish line or the olympic world record.
For Musicians, it’s just you and the musical masterpiece played through the room.
This can keep going on and on…
For Runners, it’s just you and the finish line or the fastest time possible.
For Actors, it’s just you and the show.
For Developers, it’s just you and the set objectives to accomplish a task with excellence.
For Farmers, it’s just you and the fresh breeze and season.
But I hope you get the point of ‘what flow is’.

“There are moments that stand out from the chaos of the everyday as shining beacons. In many ways, one might say that the whole effort of humankind through millennia of history has been to capture these fleeting moments of fulfilment and make them a part of everyday existence.”
Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, University of Chicago

Synonyms for Flow State

The synonyms for the flow state include ‘The Ultimate Human Performance’, athletics as ‘Being in the Zone’, runners as ‘Runner’s High’, musical jazz as ‘The Pocket’, comedy shows as ‘The Forever Box’.

“Researchers now know that flow sits at the heart of almost every athletic championship; underpins most major scientific breakthroughs; and accounts for significant progress in the arts. In business, its impact has been substantial. Coders in flow built the internet; video game designers in flow built the video game industry.”
Video Description, Talks at Google

Reasons to get into a Flow State, and Why do Web developers need to be in flow?

After having a look at a brief description of what a Flow State is, I believe that the following probably summarises why you should stop reading this post and begin organising your schedule of Tasks and get yourself into a Flow State immediately.

Having said this, Flow state provides the following advantages:

  • It’s improved focus
  • Time feels like it dilates, meaning that it feels like Sunday however it’s only Saturday!
  • It provides more meaning into your work which you enjoy
  • It can open up doors to new ways of arriving at a solution
  • It enhances your collaboration in a team
  • You save time as you choose to ‘laser-beam’ focus towards the result you need completed
  • Whilst learning in a flow state your retention rate of learning lessons is greater
  • It calms you down, and creates new neural networks (through the hormones released)
  • It jacks up your immune system (through the hormones released)
  • You become much more open to experience

“Flow is a commonality among all successful people, as mentioned by the Psychologist, Abraham Maslow” (remember the guy who came up of ‘Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs’?)
Steven Kotler, guest speaker from Talks at Google

The brain is a giant energy hog.
It’s 2% of our mass, uses 20% of our energy.
So one of the fundamental rules of the brain is:
“How do I conserve energy?”
So, conscious processing is very slow, and it’s extremely energy expensive.
Subconscious processing, on the other hand, is very very quick, and is very very energy efficient.

So what is happening in flow is we are trading Conscious processing for Subconscious processing.
As this is happening, huge swatches of the brain are being shut off. The technical term for this is ‘Transient Hypofrontality’.
Steven Kotler, guest speaker from Talks at Google

How can I get into a Flow state?

One of the ways is to learn for yourself through the video I also enjoyed watching, as this seems to be the best resource I could find to learn about the Flow State within 1 hour in that talk at Google.
Please do keep notes down for yourself as you go through the video, so that you could even attract yourself into the Flow state itself, or let’s just call it ‘Focus’.

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Bill Gates and Warren Buffett when asked how they were so successful, simply said ‘Focus’.

Conclusion

Yes, flow state is highly recommended for web developers and teams, as well as professional individuals. This is a state of ultimate human performance where great strides of progress is made. Even though we do not know how we came up to utilising the flow state of the mind, it has proven to be of more use to us than any minimal disadvantages which are almost nothing once best prevented.

Please let me know in the comments your experiences of capturing the Flow State as much as possible.

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