The art of flow: How to be productive in the new year

By Hailey Tresch

So you’ve made a New Year’s resolution to be more productive with your business. Maybe you didn’t see the growth in 2018 that you wanted, or you just know you can do so much better. Well, what puts you aside from the hundreds of other business owners with the same resolution? You have this helpful guide to getting it done! But first, you’re going to need to know what flow is and how to use it.

Have you ever been so enthralled with an activity or project that you experience a heightened focus and enjoyment for it? This is called flow, or “getting in the zone,” and it’s how you get your best work done. Psychologists call it flow because like water, your thoughts move freely and seamlessly throughout your conscious when you’re experiencing flow. I know; you wish you could experience this effective state all the time. That’s why we’ve outlined some tried and true steps for you to get there.

Have a quiet place

Many people choose to get their work done in coffee houses or a nearby park. Although these environments are relaxing, they are also full of distractions. Plus, all of the other New Year’s resolution-ers will be there too. As this NPR report explains, humans simply cannot focus on several things at once and sufficiently complete both tasks. So, we recommend finding your own quiet place to trigger your work Flow.

Dive in!

You can’t reach peak productivity if you don’t commit yourself to the task. Dive in with confidence, and choose your biggest task first. You know the one – it’s that task that you want to save for last because it seems daunting. As Mark Twain would say, “Eat that frog!” He suggested that if you swallowed a big, ugly frog first thing in the morning, nothing worse could happen to you that day. So, dive into the most dreaded task on your to do list first, and you’ll continue to be productive.


Why spend energy and time on tasks that can be automated? Of course, you can’t have your phone reminders make you lunch, but many other simple work routines can be automated. For example, you can set up your businesses’ customers on recurring billing, and set up your own bills on autopay. Here’s a list of other tasks you should automate:

-Social media posts – There’s plenty of cost-effective software out there for this

-Out-of-office emails – If you know you’ll be gone (working on your Flow) set up automatic replies

-Electronic receipts – It takes time to print receipts and ask for an in-person signature. Electronic receipts send a copy to both you and the customer, making taxes easier for your CPA.


Don’t be afraid to ask for a helping hand when and where you can. You can’t get into flow if you’re bogged down by dozens of tasks on your list. Flow happens easiest when focused on one task, so delegate small jobs to your employees or outsource them. Here’s some tasks to delegate:

-Google Analytics – You’ve probably heard of this tool, so why haven’t you tried it yet? It does much of your marketing research for you, and you don’t have to pay an employee for it.

-Bookkeeping – Unless you used to be a tax specialist, this is a time-consuming task that should be passed on to a professional.


Don’t ever do things you can eliminate. For example, unsubscribe to SPAM emails instead of just deleting them. Block telemarketers instead of dodging their calls. Productivity cannot be achieved by those who take the easy route. It may take an initial investment, but eliminating distractions to achieve flow will pay off in the long run.


Have you ever heard of the Pareto Principle? It is also known as the 80/20 rule and can be used for sports, economics, math and many other fields. It states that you should spend 80% of your time on the top 20% most important tasks. Prioritize your time in this way, and your productivity will skyrocket.

[amazon_link asins=’0061339202′ template=’ProductAd’ store=’succeedingi0d-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’f032560b-1351-11e9-867c-e359e3844c65′]Read the book

Learn more about flow and how to achieve it by reading the classic book on the topic, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by legendary psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, whose famous investigations into the topic formed the basis for much further study of how to achieve peak performance.

Start early

Get an early start on the day and make the first thing you do the best thing you do all day. Get an early start on the year by getting into the flow of things. When you see how much your sales can improve by following these simple suggestions, it’ll be easy to stick to this resolution!


Hailey Tresch is the marketing coordinator of a payment processing brokerage called PayFrog. She has written for top industry resources like and is published in the Colorado Springs Business Journal. Hailey enjoys writing on improving business processes, saving merchants money, and fraud prevention.

Leave a Reply

The Self-Employment Survival Guide can help you succeed. Learn all about it here.

Self-Employment Survival Guide book cover