picture of Josh Dzielak in 2016

Hi! I'm Josh Dzielak, writing here about technology and culture. Find me also on Twitter, Medium, Speakerdeck and Github.

Here's To Flow

Do you know about Csíkszentmihályi's concept of flow?

Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.

You might recognize the 'flow state' by its many aliases - in the zone, on a roll, dialed in, in the groove. You can flow for business or pleasure, but it's no secret that the creative working population relies heavily on flow to produce high output consistently.

It's also becoming widely acknowledged that the modern day work environment sabotages the flow state. These are the requirements to flow:

  • Long stretches of uninterrupted time
  • A problem to solve that you truly care about
  • A skill level that lets you focus on the task more than the tools
  • Absence of blocking, external dependencies

How does the modern day workplace stack up? Not well. A recent study from Adobe analyzes creativity globally and tells us we're spending only 25% of our time at work creating, and that only 1 in 4 of us believe we're living up to our creative potential.

The concept of flow isn't universal yet, but it could be someday. The now-ubiquitous word stress did not enter the American business vernacular until 1956. Employees back then needed a way to describe the effect of unsafe and unfair working conditions. Creatives today need a way to describe the impact of flow-impeding workplaces on their productivity.