Own My Growth

Helping folks with practical tips to manage themselves better

A Good Day At Work( From Home)

One of the interesting challenges with a work from home model is to operate with a clear sense of purpose around whatever it is I am looking to do.

My typical day goes like this(I assume this is similar for other folks too)

  • Catch up with colleagues to review tasks to complete or initiate.
  • Interact with prospective clients. Commercial negotiations, Proposal pitching, Clarifications, etc
  • Review progress on existing projects underway 
  • Evaluate new ideas and discuss these with colleagues, partners, clients.
  • Work on tasks that I need to complete.
    • Reviewing proposals, documents, ideas
    • Responding to emails
    • Creating new proposals
    • Reading Reports from different sources

In an office setting, there is a pleasant distraction between activities and tasks. You are engaging with colleagues, and you are chatting; you go out for a cup of coffee, lunch.

At home, you are at your workstation completing these activities, and the day feels as busy if not busier than a typical day at the office. The usual office distractions are not there.

A couple of days back, I felt like I had a particularly good day at work.

As I reflect on the day, I realize that the day went through effortlessly even though the tasks were not easy.

There were some intense discussions on complicated matters, tough negotiations, difficult and challenging conversations.

When I called it a day after the final work engagement late evening, It felt like the day had just started and somehow time whizzed by faster than usual. 

  • The tasks were not easy. They were challenging, and I had to bring to the fore my experience in dealing with them with thorough preparation.
  • I had clarity on the goals and actions to take .
  • The activities required me to concentrate fully without any superfluous distractions.
  • I had a sense of control where I was at ease in my mind that notwithstanding the challenge, the actions I was taking will yield the right outcomes.
  • It was a 10-11 hour day, yet the time spent did not feel heavy. I did not feel the passage of time. 

I was experiencing a flow state that day. Flow is a concept popularised by positive psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. ( pronounced Me-High Chick-Sent-Me-High, Phew!!)

A flow state is a mental state where a person is performing an activity, fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoying the process of the task at hand. Three essential conditions potentially lead to an experience of a flow state.

  • One must be fully involved in an activity with a clear set of goals and where there is clarity on actions to take.
  • The task as it is being completed must elicit clear and immediate feedback. Feedback is vital as the demands of the job will require the person to adjust his or her performance. This is how computer games operate.
  • There must be a right balance between the perceived challenge in the task and the person’s own perceived skills. Also, the individual must have the confidence to complete the task at hand.

There is a lovely eight-channel model that Mihaly has postulated, that depicts the types of experience that result from the intersection of differing skill and challenge. Flow occurs when the activity is challenging, and the individual brings his or her best skills forward.

The model is useful because it tells you about your relationship with your work. Does work feel like a burden every day, or do you have a feeling of purpose and accomplishment at work? Is the work challenging you to operate at your best and grow along with the work you do? Are you in your zone and in flow ?

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