Flow vs. Mosquitoes

Anthony Pica headshot
Anthony Pica
Read in 

Flow vs. Mosquitoes

Flow vs. Mosquitoes

Distractions suck.

They steal energy and eat time.

Like mosquitoes, they’re persistent and unrelenting.

Facebook notifications. Email pop-ups in the corner of the screen. That urge to check your phone when you’re in the midst of solving a complex problem. All day, these kinds of distractions tug on our attention and pull us away from our work.

Task switching has a costly, negative effect on the brain.

Sophie Leroy, Associate Professor at the University of Washington Bothell, discusses attention residue in her peer-reviewed article “Why is it so hard to do my work?” and defines the effect as “when thoughts about a task persist and intrude while performing another task.”

The cost of frequently switching tasks is a reduction in cognitive performance, which is why it’s important to avoid distractions.

I’ve found that my best work—the kind of work that creates value—comes from uninterrupted periods of time when I’m focused on just one thing.

A heightened sense of awareness emerges and I feel energized.

Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi labeled this feeling of hyperfocus as Flow. In his book of the same name, he defines flow as “the state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter.” Athletes and artists commonly refer to it as being “in the zone" or "in the groove."

Dr. Csikszentmihalyi even calls flow the secret to happiness.

Saying no to distractions and getting into flow state is how I:

  • Get more done in less time
  • Enjoy my work
  • Exercise the brain
  • Learn fast
  • Create a sense of fulfillment

Something as simple as putting your cellphone in a different room, away from your desk for an hour, can help you focus on what matters most.

Distractions (and mosquitoes) are not inherently bad, but the ability to control attention and maintain focus on what’s wildly important is like a superpower for creating value and delivering results.

You might also like...

No items found.

Join: Work Smart, Lead Better.

Liked this article? No more than once per week, I send a newsletter containing one idea you can use to work smarter and be a better leader. Core themes: strategy, collaboration, and mental fitness.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.