Flow, as defined by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a Professor of Psychology at Claremont Graduate University, is “a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter.” This heightened state of focus and productivity often distorts our perception of time, diminishes anxiety and ego, and fosters a sense of effortless action. It's similar to what we frequently describe as being "in the zone," characterized by a deep sense of immersion and peak performance.
This concept of "flow" was first introduced to the broader scientific community by Csikszentmihalyi in 1990 through his seminal work, "Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience". In this publication, he articulated the essence of being in flow and its significant benefits. Not only does it boost productivity, but it also increases life satisfaction and promotes better mental wellbeing. The study of flow began with Csikszentmihalyi's quest to identify the elements that lead to a life worth living, which you can hear about in his TED Talk: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: Flow, the Secret to Happiness.
As modern knowledge workers, we rarely get to experience flow state. Even more elusive is the sense of progression and mastery of your work. When was the last time you felt accomplished? Do you feel like you are better than you were a month ago? The pursuit of flow state reminds us to asks these questions about the work we do everyday, and Flow Club is where we gather to do it.
While flow is a highly personal and subjective experience, researchers have identified conditions that can facilitate this positive state of being:
• Challenge-Skill Balance: Choose activities that are just challenging enough for your skill level. Progress to bigger challenges as your skills expand. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi provides two insightful graphs to help visualize where you should aim to be.
• Clear, Attainable Goals: Have a clear understanding of what you need to accomplish. If your tasks seem too vague, refine them until they become more specific. If your tasks seem overwhelming, break them down into manageable pieces.
• Unambiguous Feedback: You should know how well you’re doing as you’re doing it. Even with extensive and protracted tasks, set smaller milestones to help you gauge progress along the way.
• Time-based Goals: When breaking down tasks or clarifying them proves difficult, use time-based goals rather than outcome-based goals. For example, if you're facing a major task, such as writing a lengthy report without a clear plan, set a goal like "write for 30 minutes." Make focusing for a specific period of time the goal itself.
• Follow Your Energy Level: Pay attention to how your energy fluctuates throughout the day. Take advantage of the peak energy times to enhance your chances of achieving flow.
• Designate Time: Schedule time to be in flow to block it out for yourself. Commit and let your brain prepare to fully immerse itself when the time arrives.
• Eliminate Distraction: Before you start, eliminate any potential distractions. Place your phone out of reach and out of sight, close your room door, set your chat program to "Do Not Disturb,” etc.
• Bring Intention: Bring a heightened level of intention and determination. This could be as simple as taking a deep breath, focusing your gaze, or performing a brief ritual that helps you transition into a more concentrated state.
• Bring Personal Triggers: Recognize and leverage personal triggers that help you enter the zone. These could be a cup of coffee, a specific playlist, or a notebook open to a particular page.
• Be In a Flow-Inducing Environment (eg Flow Club): Flow Club is a virtual environment designed to facilitate flow state that you can access any time, from anywhere. Some key features of an optimal flow-inducing environment include:
- Encouraging risk-taking through peer accountability
- Activating reward pathways to stimulate dopamine release
- Offering soundtracks conducive to work
- Inspiring awe and motivation
- Providing a comfortable and supportive atmosphere
Flow Club creates the conditions to help facilitate flow state. It's ultimately about improving mental fitness, feeling fulfilled at work and finding more time for life. The specific benefits you will experience include but are not limited to:
• Sharpened focus
• Minimized distractions
• Manage symptoms of ADHD
• Heightened intentionality and awareness of your work
• Motivation on demand
• More time for deep work, side pursuits, and life
• Increased confidence through a sense of agency
• Clearer delineation between work and rest
• More restorative rest
• Inspired company of peers and hosts
• Lower stress and anxiety
• More creativity
We hate BS too, and some of these things inevitably sound like BS. Best we can do now is to show you some testimonials, but you should stay skeptical and try it out for yourself.
See our Wall of Love.
Flow Club’s method is based on the popular Pomodoro Technique, which millions of workers around the world practice on a daily basis. The Pomodoro Technique helps people overcome discomfort by working in small time increments of 25-minutes, followed by a 5-minute of break. In Flow Club, the most popular length of session is 50 minutes.
Research shows that we put off work not because we are lazy or lack discipline. We do it to avoid negative feelings like overwhelm and uncertainty. We reach for distractions to soothe our negative feelings or busy work to help us feel productive. Instead, the Pomodoro Technique helps you focus by shrinking your goal down to the next few things you can do in the time allotted, making it easier for anyone to make real progress.
Beyond the Pomodoro Technique, Flow Club is intentionally designed to facilitate flow state and overcome symptoms of ADHD. To learn more, read our post on ADHD and Body Doubling.
Our hosts are volunteers from the community. You can think of them as your primary accountability partner. Hosts help lead and give each session structure. They check in with you on your progress and bring their music and positivity to help propel you forward. You can become a host too after 10 sessions. You'll love hosting because it makes you even more accountable and you feel great having held space to support others in the process.
As much as you can. Of course, if you need to turn off the camera, that’s okay. As a community, we keep our videos on to create an energetic virtual environment for each other while we work, like working at a cafe! This concept is actually called body doubling and is a useful technique for everyone to remain focused, present and reduce distractions.
The video boxes are small, and no one is looking at you because everyone is focusing. In case things go wrong, we enforce our community guidelines to keep out bad behavior.
Not much at all because we gather to focus on getting stuff done. We share our goals and progress with each other to keep each other accountable, that’s all.
If you prefer to not talk at all, there are non-verbal, chat-only options you can join.
To get the most out of a session, we recommend joining for the check-in at the beginning because declaring your intention to the group makes you more likely to accomplish your goal. Most people tend to stay for the entire duration and keep their video on, because it is helpful to them to do so. Staying until the end and celebrating with everyone is an extra boost of dopamine that can give you some extra pep in your step for the rest of your day.
Of course, if you need to join late, hop out early, or turn off video, that is completely fine with us. This is a tool that’s here to serve you, not the other way around.
Our sessions provide the flexibility for you to:
• Join at any time as long as you have booked the session in advance.
• Turn your video on and off anytime.
• Leave a chat message to your fellow attendees if you are joining late or jumping out early.
• We also offer chat-only sessions, where there is no spoken/verbal interaction at all.
In Flow Club you are still working solo. What Flow Club adds is a layer of structure and external accountability to help you push yourself a little harder. It’s the difference between working out at home by yourself and going to a workout class. You’ll find lots of high performers like yourself in Flow Club, and you’ll be surprised by how much more you get done.
To be clear, it’s still you who is keeping yourself accountable! There’s just no way around that. 🙂
But, it’s also clear that we are social animals. Many people work better when they are in the presence of others. The host in the room asks each participant to share their goals out loud. The act of sharing and being visible to others creates enough energy for our members to get started and to follow through.
For scientific research underpinning Flow Club's experience design, see the Science of Body Doubling
Take a moment to think about what you need to do (anything goes — from drafting an important memo to cleaning your room), and then figure out the smallest first step you can take. Book a Flow Club to set aside time to work on it, and join the session from your computer with the intention of getting it done.
Flow Club is a live, structured experience with specific choreography that is easy to participate and host in. As a member, you’ll find that it’s much, much easier than organizing your own group, whose members may or may not have the same commitment as you do.
We've thought through details to help people focus and remove overwhelm:
Flow Club's Schedule
Flow Club’s predictable schedule helps you create consistent daily routines. You can book ahead to help you block out time.
Norms around Accountability
Through the norm of sharing your to-do with your group and displaying your progress publicly, you use the group to hold yourself accountable.
We send you a calendar invite so that you can make an appointment with yourself and others to remind you to show up. Your teammates will also respect your time because it appears as a meeting.
The To-do list doesn’t carry over, which helps you start fresh each time.
Videos help people feel present. We display them in limited width and height so that they aren't overly distracting. Controls such as on/off toggles and background blur support your changing needs.
Optional Focus Music
Flow Club hosts play focus-friendly music in sessions to help cue your brain that this time and space is for work.
Yes, Flow Club usually fits under a co-working or wellness stipend. Here’s a resource page on how to ask.
Yes, we support full-time students and non-profit workers with a 50% discount.