Have you ever wondered how some people manage to achieve extraordinary results in relatively short periods of time?
It’s like time doesn’t even exist for them. They sit at their computer, completely immersed in work and by the time you finish your coffee, they’ve already done half the work. Not even an earthquake could distract them from doing what they do.
But what’s striking is that they don’t show any signs of fatigue or boredom. Moreover, they are passionately in love with their work and incredibly successful in everything they do.
So, what is it about these people?
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (hard to pronounce, I know!) calls it flow, and he believes that “a good life is one that is characterized by complete absorption in what one does.”
At first glance, you might be tempted to think only a few are gifted with such an amazing ability. Fortunately, as Csikszentmihalyi suggested in one of his inspiring Ted Talks, everyone can achieve flow.
It’s in our nature! All we have to do is follow FOUR SIMPLE STEPS.
Technique #1: Be efficient
People who’ve mastered the art of flow are well-aware of the difference between useful and useless.
To maximize your efficiency, you have to value time above all else. Yes! Time is the most valuable resource!
Fortunately for us, there’s a guy who, by transforming efficiency into an obsession, managed to come up with an incredible strategy.
His name is Timothy Ferriss, and he’s the author of The 4-hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich.
Here are a few ‘precious gems’ from his one-of-a-kind approach to productivity:
- Reclaim your attention and focus by being ‘information-free’ for one week. No books, TVs, smartphones, tablets, emails and other similar distractors, for seven days.
- Don’t be afraid to outsource the less important tasks. Invest your time and energy in activities that challenge you.
- Structure your time by sticking to a clear and precise schedule.
If you’re looking to boost your productivity, this book is an absolute ‘must’.
Technique #2: Be passionate
This is what Csikszentmihalyi and his colleagues concluded after conducting a study to discover the roots of happiness:
“The lack of basic resources, material resources contributes to unhappiness but the increase in material resources do not increase happiness.”
Simply put, money will only make you happy for a short period. After you exceed a certain amount, your monthly pay ceases to be a source of ever-growing happiness.
So maybe there’s more to being successful than money and other material benefits.
Outstanding achievements come as a result of passion. Have you ever been passionate about something?
To be absorbed by something to the point where all you ever think and dream about is how to fulfill your passion.
That’s the feeling you should be looking for!
Since passion is a combination of love and exceptional results, you need to start looking for activities that meet both requirements. If it’s something you both love and are good at, then it’s a passion.
Technique #3: Gain experience
When it comes to creativity, people usually portray it like this ‘strange’ sensation that seems to appear out of the blue.
However, Csikszentmihalyi begs to differ:
“You can’t be creating anything with less than ten years of technical knowledge in a particular field. Whether it’s mathematics or music, it takes that long to be able to begin to change something in a way that is better than what was there before.”
Even if we choose (and we can!) not to interpret the ‘10-year rule’ so literally, we still have to admit that experience is the foundation of creativity.
The good news is, this foundation has already been laid down by your teachers and caregivers. To put it differently, no need to wait another ten years to start doing the things you’re passionate about. A large part of those ten years is already covered. All you need to do is consolidate it a little more. To polish it, so to speak.
How? Through self-education.
The Internet is bristling with tons of wonderful articles, books, guides, tutorials and online courses. Entire libraries compressed into small, portable hard drives. An ocean of information waiting to be discovered and it’s only one click away.
Reap the fruits of our technological era and enrich your experience.
Discover, learn, create and repeat.
Technique #4: Be a team player
In his most recent book called Good Business: Leadership, Flow, and the Making of Meaning, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi interviewed many CEOs that were considered both very successful and ethical by their peers. What all these CEOs had in common was an authentic desire to make something that everyone can benefit from.
In a sense, real success in like a team sport. You need the combined skill and effort of an entire team to score the game-winning goal.
- Be open to new ideas.
- Praise your colleagues’ effort, even when it doesn’t always lead to great results.
- You win as a team, and you lose as a team.
When your success is something that everyone can benefit from, your satisfaction will be complete. In other words, ‘collective success’ is what you should be looking for.
To sum up:
- Put passion in your work.
- Invest in your knowledge and experience.
- Look beyond your personal interests and be a team player.
Success and productivity are right there for the taking.