Imagine a small business owner burdened by the weight of her daily tasks. Her office is cluttered, her to-do list seems never-ending, and she constantly juggles between various roles in her business. Stress and overwhelm are her constant companions. But then, one day, she discovers the power of flow. With newfound clarity, she starts by decluttering her workspace, creating an oasis of productivity. As she dives into her work, time seems to slip away as she immerses herself fully in each task, effortlessly transitioning from one to another. Stress dissipates, replaced by a sense of purpose and accomplishment. Sarah is no longer fighting against the current; she's riding the waves of productivity, her small business thriving like never before.
This may be pretty obviously generated by ChatGPT, but the scenario paints the picture of what life is like when we have friction versus flow. Even though this scenario is fiction, friction and flow are very real for small business owners, and finding flow may be the key to the success you need.
Friction limits our success: Friction in our business is what blocks us from achieving our goals.
The Power of Flow: It's the key to overcoming obstacles and unlocking a small business's full potential.
Steps for flow: Business owners can take steps to unlock the power of flow in their daily lives by goal setting, using focus time and eliminating tasks from their lists.
Friction in the biz
As small business owners, we face friction on a daily basis, which can prevent us from reaching our goals and living the life we dreamed of when we decided to form our businesses. For example:
Wearing Multiple Hats: Juggling various roles and responsibilities, from marketing and sales to operations and customer service, can make prioritizing and managing time difficult.
Lack of Structure: Getting sidetracked or spending too much time on less important tasks without a set schedule or structure.
Constant Interruptions: Frequent interruptions, whether emails, phone calls, or drop-in visitors, disrupt workflow and make it challenging to concentrate.
Overcommitment: Taking on too many projects or clients at once leads to overwhelm and reduced effectiveness.
Procrastination: Delaying important tasks can lead to increased stress and missed opportunities.
Difficulty Delegating: Struggling to delegate tasks to employees or outsource work can result in a heavy workload and burnout.
Lack of Prioritization: Failing to prioritize tasks effectively can lead to spending too much time on less critical activities while neglecting high-impact tasks.
Inefficient Systems: A lack of efficient systems or processes can lead to repetitive tasks and wasted time.
Failure to Set Goals: Staying focused and measuring progress is challenging without clear goals and objectives.
Work-Life Balance: Work-life balance can lead to burnout and reduced productivity.
Lack of Time for Strategic Planning: Getting caught up in day-to-day operations leaves little time for long-term strategic planning, which is crucial for growth.
But there is a better way…
What is Flow?
When I think of flow, I think of having an ease of doing my work - the opposite of friction. Sometimes, we feel there is a lot of friction - maybe distractions, improper systems, difficult relations with people or maybe lack of focus, but when we get rid of all those items causing friction, we have flow.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi literally wrote the book on flow and described it as an optimal state when fully immersed and engaged in an activity. When engaged in flow, we perform our best and feel energized by the work. If you have ever been so immersed in something that you lost a sense of time but were productive, you were probably in flow. It is the sweet spot of work and play.
Flow can appear in all life aspects: work, education, sports, arts, hobbies, or fun. As business owners, we want to find ways to develop flow states in our work.
Many of us (myself included) may have chosen businesses around subjects that bring us to a state of flow, but the business of business adds friction and removes us from our flow states.
Why Flow Matters to us as small business owners
We should all seek to find flow in our work because of the huge implications it has for the success of our businesses in two primary areas.
It helps us be more productive
Sami Abuhamdeh (2020) found that people in a state of flow are more likely to be productive.
By tapping into a state of flow and increasing our productivity, we can:
Increase Profitability and Growth: Improved productivity can lead to higher revenue and profits for our businesses. We can focus on expanding our business, entering new markets, or launching additional products or services by getting more done in less time.
Reduce Stress: When we are more productive, we can manage our workload more effectively, reducing stress and the feeling of being constantly overwhelmed.
Make a Greater Impact: Being more productive can help us achieve our goals and serve more people.
It helps us be more creative.
Teresa Amabile (2019) found that people in a state of flow are more likely to be creative.
If we develop our creativity as small business owners, we can:
Increase Innovation: It helps us come up with new ideas, products, or services that can set us apart in the market.
Competitive Advantage: Creative solutions and offerings can help us develop unique products or services that attract customers and differentiate us from competitors.
Adaptability and Problem Solving: Creativity enables us to approach problems with fresh perspectives, find innovative solutions and adapt to changing market conditions. It allows us to pivot our business strategies, explore new niches, and respond effectively to unexpected challenges.
How to Achieve Flow in Your Work
I hope I have convinced you how crucial flow is to the success of your business. Some steps you can take today to increase flow:
Set clear goals and review them every week: This will give you a sense of purpose and direction, and it will help you to stay focused on the task at hand.
Establish regular focus time. This could mean working in a quiet place, turning off your phone, or closing unnecessary tabs on your computer.
Eliminate, Automate and Delegate. Basically, get rid of tasks you don’t need to be doing so you can focus your time and energy on the tasks that bring you into a state of flow.
From Chaos to Calm
Over the years, I have dedicated myself to studying habits and behaviors that could help me achieve a state of flow in my personal and professional life. Thanks to knowing how to achieve flow, I have successfully created numerous courses while juggling the responsibilities of being a mother to four children and managing my household, all while my husband was working overseas.
Join my free webinar, “From Chaos to Calm,” to learn how to find more flow in your weekly schedule so that you can stress less and do more!