Entering Flow State: An Ultimate Way to Do Everything Effortlessly


Surprisingly, the average human attention span is only 8.25 seconds. It is way shorter than the average goldfish's attention span which is up to 9 seconds! Such comparison indicates the time measured in terms of our ability to focus on tasks or objects and now we are leaving behind from the goldfish! Attention span technically refers to the amount of time spent to focus on something before we get distracted. According to research by the American Psychological Association (APA), our attention span has dramatically decreased in just 15 years. In 2000, it was 12 seconds. Now, 15 years later, it’s shrunk significantly to 8.25 seconds. Even though the result may vary from person to person in the sense that the ability to learn, remember, or recall something gradually slows down over time and it is affected by age, environment, as well as certain types of activity.

Human beings inherently always do their business on a regular basis such as running an errand, doing the house chores, and doing the other work. The way we do it basically boils down to two possible reasons: we do it out of our will or out of external force. Imagine when we work on something out of our own willingness, we likely do it with enjoyment without any reluctance. We are not bothered since we like doing it regardless of the effort and time. As we immerse ourselves deeply in certain activities, it eventually leads us to enter the so-called “flow state”. The term was coined by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a Hungarian-American psychologist. He proposed the idea of the optimal state of performance in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience gives off pleasure that people will be fully occupied even at great cost simply for the sheer sake of doing it. Meanwhile, the external force implies the notion of responsibility coming from outside. For instance, doing assignments from teachers, working on projects from organizations, etc.

The counterpart of the flow state, mind wandering, is a condition in which thoughts do not remain focused on the task at hand but range widely and spontaneously across other topics. This tells us about what the writer has mentioned in the first paragraph regarding the average human attention span. Someone can foster their attention span to last longer only if they set boundaries from possible distractions. The word “distractions” here refers to something that has the potential to hinder our focus. Therefore, we can list our priorities, set up daily schedules, and work on the most urgent things first to enhance our attention span. It is technically similar to practicing mindfulness in what we are doing at the moment. We only need to keep an eye on our thoughts for something that is worth paying attention to.

Another thing that the writer wants to highlight is the challenge-skill balance. This idea is especially crucial in understanding more how the flow state works. It is said that to enter a flow state in every aspect of life, our passions must go hand in hand with the given works. In other words, we may feel anxious and reluctant to do something if our skills are far behind it. Similarly, we stand a chance to do something better if it is to the same extent as our skills. For example, English literature students will do better in speaking and writing in English rather than doing complex math calculations. It is mainly because the amount of time and effort that they devote to English-related tasks is way more considerable than the math ones.

In conclusion, the flow state allows us to put effort effortlessly. Immersion in certain tasks does help to finish them seamlessly once we enter the state. It is as if time passes so fast that we don't realize it while we are working on something. Getting rid of all possible distractions is crucial for us to put total concentration so that we can finish every task effectively and efficiently. Leveraging the flow state for studying i also very helpful in understanding the materials easily. Ultimately, it grants us a longer attention span with higher levels of productivity. 

Writer: M Dimas Ferdiansyah
Editor: Septian Paradesa