#262: 4 Steps to Find Flow & Enjoy Your English Practice

Jan 11, 2023 | Motivation to Practice

When do you feel most happy?

Your first thought might be: “It’s when I’m doing nothing. Just relaxing.” 

Perhaps that’s true.

 

Or is it when your brain is fully engaged? When you’re doing something with such focus you lose track of time? 

You look at the clock and think, “Wow! What happened to the time?” 

For example, working out a new song on the piano. Solving a problem. Completing a crossword puzzle. Creating website graphics. Calculating your travel budget. Painting.

 

This feeling of getting lost in an activity? This is what we call flow state. Also known as getting into the zone.

According to positive psychology, you’re in flow when you are absorbed in an activity. You have a feeling of energized focus, complete involvement, and enjoyment of the process.

And it’s when we’re at our happiest.

 

We can thank psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi for the flow state theory. Based on his research

The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times… The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.” — Mihály Csíkszentmihályi

 

So how does this relate to your English learning?

How often have you set goals to practice English 4 times per week? Or to become more fluent before the of the year?

How often do you lose track of your goals? Feel too frustrated or stressed or bored or tired to practice?

How often do you think, “I know I SHOULD study English right now. But I don’t want to.”

Are you raising your hand right now?

I get it. I’ve been there too.

Is there a way to use this flow state theory to enjoy your English learning practice?

Can you have fun learning and make progress in your English?

You can.

In this lesson, you’ll get 4 practical steps to find flow so you enjoy your English learning practice. 

You’ll also get key English vocabulary for talking about flow state. 

As with meditating, creating art, or problem-solving, you can find flow in learning.

It’s when you are totally, happily immersed in what you’re studying.

WATCH THE LESSON

4 Steps to Find Flow and Enjoy Your English Language Practice

Step 1: Identify Your Golden Hour(s)

A golden hour is also known as the magical hour which is the perfect time to capture a photo in soft light. 

In the same way, your golden hour(s) are the peak times your mind is ready to learn, analyze, and process information. It is also the time when you feel the most focused and the least distracted. 

To find your golden hour, assess your weekly routine. Then identify the times when you feel most energized and/or open to discovery. 

Step 2: Set the Right Tone & Get in the Mood

ONE: Remove All Distractions

Noise. Hunger. Email pings and social media alerts. 

These are all potential distractions. And distractions get in the way of flow. 

To remove distractions, follow these tips:

  • Find a study place that is quiet, peaceful, and distraction-free.
  • Remove clutter from your surroundings. This contributes to qualities of peace, quiet, and clear focus. 
    • For instance, if you have your to-do list on your table, put it away. If your phone is on your desk, move it. Or turn it off.
  • Organize papers into a neat pile and schedule time later to file them away or get rid of them.

TWO: Create A Pre-Flow Ritual

    The next step is to create a pre-study or pre-flow ritual.

    A pre-flow ritual is a series of actions that will stop mental chatter and tell your brain it’s time to study.

    Journaling is an ideal way to remove thoughts of anxiety, frustration, or demotivation.

    And meditation is a fantastic way to become more attuned to the present moment.

    Some individuals prefer complete silence while in flow. Others find a playlist of instrumental or ambient music can help you focus.

    I definitely prefer to have music when I’m creating, problem-solving, and writing. And I have several playlists I recommend.

    Flow State from Apple Music

    Pure Focus from Apple Music

    Creative Focus from Apple Music

    LoFi Chill from Apple Music

    Step 3: Focus on One Task That Is Challenging, But Not Too Challenging

    Without a clear plan of what to focus on, flow state isn’t possible. Plus, you might switch from one task to another too quickly. 

    The solution is to focus on one clear task. In other words, avoid multitasking. 

    That means you need to have clear goals for your learning. And a plan of what to study, so you can dive into your flow state without wasting time.

    A study plan could include a list of possible tasks. Each one should help you improve your skills and be challenging at the appropriate level. 

    This means it should engage your brain and feel like a challenge. But not so challenging that you feel frustrated or stressed.

    Step 4: Do What You Enjoy (But Don’t Force It)

    This is crucial. When you want to enter a flow student in your learning practice, choose tasks you enjoy. Do the things you love to do. Not the things you have to do (save those for another time).

    Everyone will find flow in a different way. So it’s important to choose the study tasks that intrigue and engage you.

    It should make you feel good about doing it.

    When your practice feels stagnant or when you feel distracted, remember that it’s ok to reset. 

    Or simply try another day. Don’t force it. If you don’t enter that flow state on a particular day, that’s okay. It’s not a failure. 

    Take a moment to write down your thoughts of frustration. This helps to relieve that negative energy. And then switch your focus.

    You can still study, learn, and make progress by completing small tasks. Even if you’re not in flow.

    You can also reorganize and refresh your practice. To do this, allow your intention to inform your choices.

    Write your intention on a Post-It note and stick it where you will always see it. 

    This will give you a daily reminder of your intention and help you stay on your path. 

    To realign with your intention, consider the following questions:

      • Why do I want to improve my [insert the specific skill you want to improve]?
      • How will strengthening my English skills improve my life?
      • What can I do to make my practice intriguing and enjoyable?
      • Which activities are no longer interesting or challenging? 

      Now that you have 4 steps to help you enjoy your English learning practice in a flow state, I have two questions for you:

      Question 1: What activities have helped you enter a flow state? 

      If you’re not sure, think about activities you’ve enjoyed in English. Activities that made you feel accomplished.

      Question 2: After today’s lesson, what is your next step? Which of the steps from today’s lesson will help you refresh your English practice?

      You can share your answers — as well as your questions — with me in the comments below.

      ~ Annemarie

       

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