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4 ways to get into flow state

four fin flow state

A sustainable branding agency’s creative team shares their tips on flow for maximum creativity and productivity.

Every quarter, Four Fin chooses a theme to learn about together, so we can then infuse into it our work. Last quarter’s theme is flow state. And oh, have we been flowing!

Flow is not just for creatives; it’s for all of us. In a time where we are constantly distracted by dings and notifications and Slack messages and emails, we have to be more intentional about how we put ourselves in a good position to flow. So, let’s take a look at what flow state is, check out ways to prompt flow state, and then we’ll share what our creative team at Four Fin has learned about how we each get into the flow. 

What is flow state?

While it’s up for interpretation, here are some common ways people describe flow state. It’s an enjoyable state where you are deeply absorbed in what you’re doing and may lose track of time. Often, people say you get more done than you normally could in the same amount of time. In flow state, you have access to more creativity, seemingly flowing from one idea to the next. While flow state is seen as something that is experienced by individuals only, it can be experienced by a group as well. Other ways that people describe flow state are “being in the flow” or “in the zone.” 

The Four Fin team has been experimenting with flow state over the last few months and we’ve noticed an uptick in productivity, creativity, and our overall joy doing the work. If you want to do your own experiments to prompt flow state, here are some of the tricks that helped our team sink into the zone. 

4 ways to prompt flow state

1. Find the right time of day 

Some people are morning people. Some people find their flow in the evening or even in the middle of the night. Experiment to find out when your flow’s primetime is. Once you find it, try to prioritize your most creative work at that time. 

2. Prioritize flow 

It bears repeating: when you think you know the time you flow best, make some time to do your most creative work then. For instance, if your flow time is in the morning, try to start working on creative or work projects for a few hours before anything else. During a flow, you can get much more done in an enjoyable way. By prioritizing this time, you maximize your creativity and productivity, and leave time later to relax. 

3. Minimize distractions

This might be the most critical factor when it comes to entering the flow state in the times we live in. We are constantly getting bombarded with distractions in the forms of texts, phone calls, social media, news, or Slack messages. While we need to respond to work and personal messages, we often don’t need to respond immediately. By turning off notifications for an hour or two, we allow ourselves uninterrupted time to flow. 

4. Set a timer

Do this if you don’t want to flow right through other appointments or meeting times. (Shhh…don’t tell anyone. It’s happened to us before!) The beauty of flow state is we lose track of time. At Four Fin, we’ve noticed that setting a timer helps us sink into the flow more annnnd not risk missing important meetings. 

If you want to go flow wild, check out this set of instructions on how to get one month’s work done in a day while in flow state. 

Fins share their favorite flow tips:

Jen, CEO + Creative Direction:
My mind always has a million things swirling through it, so for me, before I dive into any deep work, or attempt to flow on some juicy challenge, I spend five minutes offloading all the swirling thoughts onto a piece of paper. Tactile. It keeps me from getting distracted by other computer comms while doing this. Then I dive into deep work. If new unrelated thoughts come up as I’m doing deep work, I add them to the paper for later.

Macoe, Associate Creative Director: As a music lover, the quickest and most enjoyable way for me to enter a flow state is putting on headphones and playing a good DJ mix. Something with a BPM of 115-125 is perfect but it does need to be a continuous mix to really enhance that flow. Vocals are fine if they’re not too repetitive, and bonus if they’re in a beautiful language I don’t understand.

Beibei, Senior Designer: For me, anxiety is a significant roadblock to getting flowy at work, and a major cause of this anxiety is lack of clarity. I find it extremely helpful to spend some time clarifying the project’s requirements and addressing any ambiguous points before I start. This preparation enables me to work more smoothly and effectively.

Jess, Chief Operations Officer: Put EVERYTHING on DND!!

Carly, Content Strategist + Copywriter: To promote flow, I love getting up in the morning and doing the most important creative work of the day before I check my phone. It’s an exercise in self-control, but I find that my whole day is much better if I get a few hours of that delicious, undistracted flow time.

Morgan, Senior Account Manager: Flow isn’t just for the creative geniuses at Four Fin. Account managers can experience flow too. 🙂 The more that I can limit distractions, and group my work by similar task or client, the more I can help myself get into a flow.

Evan, Brand Strategist: Similar to what’s been said—I block off my calendar with the specific thing I’m going to be working on, as a form of “do not disturb” to others (and for myself!), and then I find some energizing music and let the intuition take over for that protected block of time!

If you’d like to learn more about flow, watch this great video from BigThink:

How to enter ‘flow state’ on command by Steven Kotler 


A final thought

Have you ever gotten absorbed in a website, like so totally mesmerized that you forgot what you were looking for? That’s a form of flow. Brands can put us into the flow. When we understand what a company does and they have something moving or funny or unique to say, yet they leave just enough curiosity brewing, we can’t help but dive in deeper. When your company is ready to make a splash, we’d love to help! 

If you’d like to chat more about where your brand is headed or learn about nimble branding for the stage your company is at, shoot us a line here. 

Deep dive

We care deeply about sustainability branding, graphic design, industry trends, company culture, and more. Dive into the minds of our team on the Four Fin blog, The Deep End.

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