The Flow State: How To Use It to Effectively Read

Written By: Isa Gonzalez Montilla 

 

Are you struggling with fully immersing yourself into a book, or do you catch yourself dozing off into random thoughts and doodling sessions while reading? If the answer is yes, then that means you are having trouble reaching what is known as the Flow state. This optimal state of mind, also known as ‘The Zone’, is a capacity at which an individual’s awareness of time absolutely disappears and they become one with what they are doing. It is believed that 'Flow' is a level in the mental state where one achieves peak performance in their tasks. With this being said, technology has significantly infringed on our ability to reach this optimal experience. 

 

In 2018, Microsoft released a study that stated a human’s attention span doesn’t last longer than 8 seconds. Why is our attention span so short? Smartphones and other mobile devices. The constant stream of notifications we receive daily also contributes to the lack of focus due to an increase of a particular stress hormone called cortisol. This hormone ignites our “fight or flight” response which gives us the energy to outrun danger if needed. Due to the constant high levels of cortisol, our brains aren’t able to retain focus like they used to. 

 

Focus is the main ingredient in reaching the Flow state of mind, so if you find it difficult to get into ‘The Zone’ while you read, then follow these five easy steps to help you get into the focused groove of the Flow.

 

1. One Task 

It is important to remember to do things one at a time, so choose only one piece of literature to read so that you can get the most out of your brain’s focus and productivity. Remember to pick a book that you're interested in, or at least choose your next reading assignment so that you can get that off the list. 

 

2. Eradicate Distractions

Distractions are your biggest enemies if you want to reach ‘The Zone.” Interruptions interfere with your ability to focus deeply on the piece you are reading, so make sure to set up your environment accordingly to help you stay focused. 

 

3. Add Intensity to Your Focus

Adding intensity means asking yourself: why do I want to read this? Or why do I have to read this? This will enable you to find a deep connection and understanding for the piece that you are interpreting. This will help you become more emotional and motivated to take on the challenge.

 

4. Working Time

A person needs to be focused for at least half an hour before reaching any initial level of the Flow. Again, this optimal experience happens at the moment you forget the concept of time. Therefore, don’t over do yourself with the workload. Only do what your brain is capable of doing. 

 

5. Finish it!

Once you start something, finish it! That doesn’t mean you have to complete a 600 page book in a day, but set a goal for yourself before starting the task, and achieve it. Finishing your tasks is the only way to fully take advantage of the optimal experience of the Flow. The more you get the hang of starting and finishing books, homework, chores, etc. the better you become at channeling the Flow state of mind.