How To Get Into “The Zone”, Find Peak Performance and Make Work Suck Less

Let’s Go To The Flow (State)

So, I’ve been doing creative work for years and if there’s one thing I know…it’s that there’s no better place or feeling than being in flow. For solopreneurs, self-employed individuals, and creative professionals, tapping into the elusive state of flow can be transformative. it can feel elusive or fleeting, but it doesn’t have to. In this guide, we’ll explore how understanding and harnessing flow state can revolutionize your productivity and creativity.

And if your income depends on you delivering, the stakes are high.  But, we really do think you can create the conditions that lead to better outcomes and better work. So read on intrepid creator!  ⛰️

Understanding Flow State

Coined by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, flow state is the pinnacle of focus and immersion in an activity. It’s that magical feeling of being “in the zone,” where time seems to vanish, distractions fade away, and productivity soars. But, how do you know when you’re there? You’ll know you’ve reached that nirvana when you’re experiencing any or all of the following:

  1. Intense Focus: You’re immersed completely in your work, shutting out distractions and honing in on the task at hand. The simplicity of being focused creates a warm bubble around you and nothing else really matters.  

  2. Loss of Self-awareness: Experience a blissful detachment from self-consciousness and time, as you become absorbed in your work.  Really tHis just means all the internal distractions have subsided or moved waaaay back in your mind.  

  3. Effortless Action:  Feel a sense of ease and fluency in your actions, where tasks seem to unfold effortlessly. Have you ever looked up from a project or skated it with a colleague and they were like “holy shit, this is a ton of work.” That’s the result when its “effortless”.   I remember being in the zone on a outdoor tourism project I was working on.  I pretty much mapped out and generated 50 pages of content in like 8 hours. The client couldn’t believe it. 

  4. Timelessness:  You enter a state where time becomes irrelevant, either flying by or standing still, as you remain engrossed in the present moment. We don’t recommend you miss too many drink and snack breaks, but when time is less relevant, cool things happen.  I experience this timelessness in my personal life when I’m crafting outdoor furniture (a new hobby – obsession – of mine) I get so into it that I miss meals.  It’s kind of magical.

  5. Intrinsic Motivation: You feel driven by an internal desire to excel and succeed in your endeavors. This is “embracing the challenge” with curiosity and child mind.  You’ve pushed past the “I’ve got to get this done” due to some external pressure. You are in this for the craft and experience.

8 Strategies To Find, Sustain (and Revisit) Flow State 🔥

  1. Set Clear Goals: Define precise and attainable objectives for your projects to provide a roadmap for your efforts and maintain focus. And if you’re feeling froggy, make one of those goals to “experiment” with whatever you’re working on (see below). 🎯

  2. Match Challenge with Skill: Engage in tasks that leverage your abilities while presenting a moderate level of challenge to foster optimal conditions for flow.  Listen.  Here’s the magic.  You can’t do things well that you’ve never done before so flow state happens when you’re leveraging your skills and pushing yourself just a little bit outside your comfort zone.  So, My pal Gene Crawford equates this to the magic he experiences when he’s practicing martial arts.  He’s put the work in for years so the flow and routine are there, but he’s taking this thing he does well and pushing himself to new limits.  Sort of like the “1% every day” concept.  💪

  3. Minimize Distractions: Create a distraction-free workspace by silencing notifications, finding a quiet corner, and prioritizing uninterrupted work periods. To do deep work, you MUST eliminate distractions.  On average distractions make anything we’re working on take 3X as long.  So, do yourself a favor and turn it all off.  The world will be okay and you owe it to whatever you’re working on (PS: And while you’re at it, come book one of our focus meeting rooms at SOCO – you’re welcome). 🎧

  4. Cultivate Deep Focus:  Incorporate mindfulness practices like deep breathing and meditation into your routine to enhance concentration. This is a muscle and skill that most of us don’t have or is very weak.  Stay fully present in your work, channeling your energy into the present moment to maximize focus and productivity. 🔬

    Need help training your mind and body in simple ways to enter a more focused state.  Tip: Try a mindfulness app like Headspace for 30 days and see how It impacts your days.

  5. Embrace Flow Triggers:  Identify activities or rituals that consistently evoke flow state and incorporate them into your routine.  Be prepared to launch, but one of my best flow triggers is when I open up Spotify and dial in the Calm Radio station.  It triggers something in my brain that tells me “it’s time to focus, Greg”.  Find your rituals and do them regularly before you get dialed in. 🚦

  6. Embrace Failure as Feedback: Listen.  If you’re doing creative work (especially), better outcomes come from failure.  Creating is an iterative process and you need to make time and space to experiment, fail and learn.  Learn about “the child mind” and embrace this way of looking at whatever it is you’re working on.  You’ll thank me for it. 💡

  7. Engage in Challenging Activities Regularly: Seek out opportunities that push your boundaries and expand your capabilities to strengthen your skill set.  If you stay in your safe, comfortable space then you’ll have a lot of trouble creating great things.  Get your mind and body comfortable being uncomfortable and you’ll unlock a lot more productivity and results. 🏋🏾‍♀️

  8. Chill Out With Rigid Structures: And maybe don’t try so hard to “architect” your perfect flow state. Here’s a great post from Dan Martin where he advocates for a less rigid approach to embracing your flow state. 🧊


By integrating these strategies into your regular work routine, you can cultivate an environment conducive to flow state, unlocking your full potential as a solo entrepreneur or creative professional. Embrace the journey of discovering and maintaining flow state, and enjoy the joy of doing great work again people.  You’re worth it. 🫶🏽

Need a Little More Inspiration? ✨

Looking to stay in this flow state zen a little longer? Check out Gene and I’s recent conversation on the topic on The Communal Podcast here.  We get into to our own personal practices, our struggles with Flow State and some tips we’ve picked up along the way.

About The Author:

Greg Hilton is the cofounder and managing partner for SOCO, SOCO is a thriving platform and community focused on supporting creators, indie workers and entrepreneurs just like you. He’s an avid outdoorsman, creator and storyteller. He’s also been self-employed and a business owner for nearly two decades and has worked with hundreds of solos, creators and entrepreneurs to help them lead better and more meaningful lives.

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