Being ‘in the zone’

‘Flow’ (often decsribed by sportsmen as ‘being in the zone’) is a popular concept introduced to the world by the psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in the 1990s. It is a state of mindless grace where one acts at optimal performance without having to think about it.

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This isn’t about a flash of solo talent or genius. Reaching flow states is not an accident: it happens after a lot of hard work, over a long period of time. To reach flow more often, there are six qualities your practice must have:

1. High skill – which means practice, practice, practice
2. High challenge, but achievable – don’t overreach
3. A supportive and knowledgeable network
4. Clear goals and means to measure progress, with immediate feedback
5. Intrinsic value
6. Systems that remove distractions, and for building habits and rituals