Productivity Today: Finding Your Flow for Maximal Productivity | Kevin Siskar | Skillshare

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Productivity Today: Finding Your Flow for Maximal Productivity

teacher avatar Kevin Siskar, CEO, Finta

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      What is Flow?


    • 3.

      Finding Your Flow


    • 4.

      Building Your Flow Strategy


    • 5.

      Embedding Your Flow Strategy


    • 6.

      Encouraging Flow on Your Team


    • 7.

      Final Thoughts


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About This Class

Find your flow and get more done with Finta CEO Kevin Siskar! 

Flow can transform your experience at work, as well as your productivity, satisfaction, and happiness. While there’s no hard and fast rules for inducing flow, there are ways for you to recreate meaningful flow in your life. Join Kevin as he shares his methods for unlocking your potential at work and setting yourself up to be more productive with flow. 

Together with Kevin, you will:

  • Understand the meaning of flow
  • Find where flow already exists in your life 
  • Analyze flow themes and build your personal flow strategy
  • Share these strategies amongst your team and encourage others to reach their full potential

Whether you’d like to increase your productivity at work or simply find the joy in what you do, this class will provide you with the tools to harness flow in any scenario. 


Kevin’s class is designed for students of all levels.

Meet Your Teacher

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Kevin Siskar

CEO, Finta


Kevin Siskar is the CEO of Finta. Previously he was Managing Director of the Founder Institute in New York where he built an investment portfolio of over 150 early-stage companies. Kevin is the host of the Ambition Today podcast where he explores the hardships and heroism of the entrepreneurs, creators, investors, and builders who ambitiously change the world. You can find him on talking startups, products, technology and services -- and the people who build them.

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1. Introduction: Think about the last time that you lost yourself in the moment. You were doing something you really enjoyed and time just started to melt away, that's flow. The good news is that we can recreate flow meaningfully in your life and call upon it when you want. [MUSIC] My name is Kevin Siskar. Over the last few years, I've helped hundreds of companies launch and grow. As an investor at 43 North, we invest $5 million per year in the A companies. At Finta, I'm the co-founder and CEO of a software company that helps founders automate the fundraising process. I'm also host of the ambition today podcast where we interview founders and their startup journeys and how they grow their businesses. Today's class is all about productivity today, finding your flow at work. First, we're going to go over how to define flow. We're then going to take a look at how you can find workflow already occurs in your life. We're then going to analyze the themes and talk about how we can pull objects out of your flow to re-create them in the future. Then finally, we're going to talk about how you could take those same exercises and those same strategies and share them amongst your team. I hope that you walk away from this class realizing and understanding that unlocking your full potential isn't a mistake. It doesn't happen by accident, it happens intentionally. You taking the time back to understand and becomes self-aware about yourself and how you work best is really something that's going to pay dividends for the rest of your career. I'd encourage you to upload your project at the end of the class, upload that worksheet, we'll provide feedback and commentary. You can also post any questions you have. If you have any discussion or community conversations you want to have, you can post those as well. Now let's get started. [MUSIC] 2. What is Flow?: In this lesson, we're going to start by defining flow. What is flow? How does it fit into your life? Have you been in it in the past? You probably have. Flow is defined as the state of being fully in the moment and completely immersed in an activity to the point of effectively disappearing into it. There's no conscious division between the doer and what's being done. There's only the doing. You've probably been in flow before, whether you were at a concert, skiing or snowboarding, hanging out with a family member, and time just started to melt away because you were really and genuinely enjoying what you were doing. We could find the themes from that process when you were last in flow, start to pull them out and optimize the environment around you today to create flow at work. The 2021 Anatomy of Work report from Asana talked a little bit about why flow could be so important today. App overload and context switching is hampering productivity. Entering the flow state, letting the world melt away while we be productive is something that can really prevent us from being distracted and causing us to switch context constantly. Most people are switching between 10 apps 25-30 times a day. That impact really hampers, messages and actions get missed, individuals are less efficient, and work ends up getting duplicated. To back this up scientifically, McKinsey did a 10-year study on flow. They found that top executives are five times more productive during flow. That's a 500% increase in productivity. To put that into perspective, two hours of being in flow can equal as much work as a normal person gets done in a 40-hour workweek. That's incredibly powerful. That's a superpower in the information age. If you'd increase the time spent in flow by just 15-20%, your productivity doubles. In today's knowledge economy, learning how to harness flow is truly a strategic and impressive advantage over everyone else. Everyone loves to enjoy the work and do what they love. Finding out how to set ourselves up for that success and doing that most often is incredibly powerful. If sheer work happiness isn't enough, there's a few other benefits to flow at work. You're going to be more creative, more productive, and more present. You're also going to be less distracted, and overall, you're just going to be happier with the results of your work. To follow along in this class using the worksheet, start to understand the definition of flow and think about what it means to you in your own life. In the next lesson, we're going to start to think about those times, isolate them, and write them down. [MUSIC] 3. Finding Your Flow: In this lesson, we're going to talk about finding your flow, and the good news is that there's a framework to do so. In the next few lessons, we're going to go through those steps but starting in this lesson, we're going to talk about step 1. In step 1, we need to identify your current flow activities. There are three conditions necessary for flow. The next action is obvious. You have clear and immediate feedback with no distractions. You experience a balance between high perceived challenge and high perceived skill without the task being too boring. Psychologists recommend recreating memories of when you've lost yourself or felt in flow in the past. First, you must observe yourself. Look at what you're doing and increase your self-awareness. Pay attention to the indicators that time has started to melt away. Sometimes where you might feel flow is playing a game or a video game. Games are strategically designed to be not too hard and not too easy and place you in that flow. Understanding something as simple as that could be your flow state. Once you realize that you're in a state of flow, continue to heighten your awareness around it. Start to notice are there recurring themes. Are you wearing headphones? Is music playing? Are you writing or gardening? Is there's something about what you're doing that happens to be a consistent theme across multiple times you've been in flow. You really want to be self-aware and clear around that, understanding it so you can pull it out and take that as a theme going forward. As you start to think about times you've been in flow in the past, it could be personal or at work. I know I use examples such as snowboarding or going to a concert, but maybe it happened at work as well. You've got lost building that financial model in that Excel spreadsheet, or setting up a marketing campaign in HubSpot. Anytime you start to lose yourself in your work, you're probably enjoying it. Building a new website, optimizing a process, so find those moments, really hone in on them and write them down as part of this lesson. For me, times that I've noticed I'm in flow at work are really when I'm being creative or I'm building. Building a new website for Finta, our company, or setting up a new marketing campaign, or setting up some email automations. Those are all things I really enjoy. Whenever I'm doing any of those things, time just melts away. I get a lot done and I'm incredibly productive. As we think about flow in the workplace, it's also important to be aware about our surroundings. If we're in the office, maybe over the ear headphones help us get into flow because it signals to others that were focused and we don't end up distracted, or if we're working from home, the room or surrounding environment, maybe sitting outside on the patio with our laptop could help us induce flow because that's the place, and the scenery, and the environment where we focus best. Thinking about the scenery and these environments is an important part of setting ourselves up for flow, and understanding where we've experienced in the past. Keep those themes in mind as we move forward. Following along on the worksheet for this class, I want you to take a moment and make a list of the times you've been in flow at work and make a list of the times you've been in flow in your personal life. Write those down and we're going to take those forward into the next lesson where we're going to analyze them and pull apart the themes to help you recreate your flow. 4. Building Your Flow Strategy: Now that we understand what flow is, and we've started to figure out where it already exists in our life. Let's talk about in this lesson how we can analyze those themes and pull them out to re-create flow on demand. Advancing on the flow framework, let's talk about step 2. Step 2 is all about analyzing themes to build a personal flow strategy. We want to ask ourselves, what themes do our activities have in common? Where are you and who is present? What's typically happening around you when you're in flow? By identifying those common themes, we can start to take those and design flow into our day-to-day. Some of the main challenges to getting into flow include task being too easy, apathy, and sometimes anxiety. Anxiety is pretty common and something that often induces and increases anxiety is coffee. Chugging as much coffee as you can and then hoping to get into flow is something that just might not be super realistic. Keep your caffeine intake in mind, be aware and self-aware around your own anxiety levels and make sure that we're optimizing and setting ourselves up physically and emotionally to enter flow and be productive. In the last lesson, we highlighted times that we've been in flow in the past, both in our personal life and our work-life. Now we want to take a look at those and start to figure out what themes might be going out across them. For me, I personally love to go snowboarding. It's just me in the mountain, I have my headphones in, no one's around me, no distractions and I do some of my best thinking on the slopes. When I'm at work, it's similar. I typically have no one around me, maybe I've even got out of the office or I have been in the conference room by myself. I have my headphones in, I got a fresh cup of coffee or a drink or a beverage and I'm focused and I'm dialed in. You want to start to figure out what are those themes that's recurring aspects of when you weren't flow in the past and source those out. Two more examples that go hand-in-hand across my personal life and my work life. When I'm walking the museum, I'm always in a great headspace. I'm learning about historical figures or something amazing that happened, learning about dinosaurs, whatever. Then when I'm at work, when I'm learning a new piece of software or I'm adopting something or trying to understand how to use final premier or challenging myself in that regard. Those are both great examples of when I'm learning, I tend to enter flow. Another example of when I'm in flow, both in my personal life and work life is, honestly, playing a game. I grew up playing sports and I'm an avid fan playing them today. At the same time, my email clients super human, has been incredibly gamified to help me get through my email very fast. Whether I'm playing games on the field or I'm playing something that's been gamified in the office, I get a ton of work done. On your worksheet, you have your personal flow states and you have your workflow states. Now, I want you to make another list of the themes that maybe go across them. Were you listening to music? Did you have a fresh cup of coffee in front of you? Was there no one around you? Did you have no distractions? Was your phone in do not disturb mode? What are those recurring themes that you can pull out of your life? Highlight those right now. We're going to use those themes in the next lesson. We'll talk about how you can take those strategies and embed them into your calendar and your work going forward to optimizer flow state as often as you'd like. 5. Embedding Your Flow Strategy: Now that we've done step 1 and step 2 of finding your flow, let's talk about step 3, embedding those themes and those strategies into your day-to-day life going forward. This is going to allow you to optimize your chances of finding your flow in the future and increasing your productivity in the long run. There are two main ways to embed your flow strategy into your day-to-day life, either at work or at home. The first is habit stacking, and the second is visible habits, both of which I'm going to give credit to [inaudible] at super-human for coming up with. Let's first talk about habit stacking. Habit stacking lets you leverage your existing habits to improve your processes and create better new habits that let you enter the flow state. For example, maybe after your next team meeting at 1.5 hours calendar block to counter, that just says focus. Make sure that when that time comes, you pour yourself a cup of coffee or whatever you need, you find a quiet room, you minimize distractions, put your phone on do not disturb, and just start to focus on getting work done. In fact, taking blocks of time and blocking them off on your calendar can be incredibly powerful, and not only helps me focus, but it prevents anyone else from scheduling a meeting or putting something else on my calendar at that time that could take me away from where and what I intended to be working on. In my last class activity today, we also went over this a little bit, but think about how you could take the hours or days of your week and break them up to intentionally focus on different things such as maybe hitting inbox zero on e-mail on Monday. We're taking all your meetings on Tuesday so you can focus on work exclusively on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Visible habits are easier to maintain than unstated ones. With a visible habit, something as simple as taking those themes that we've highlighted, you now have a strategy and sharing it with your team. This is something we do at 43North. We share our visible habits with each other. We understand when people are more likely to be in the flow state, so maybe we don't disrupt it or distract and we really understand how to communicate best with one another. We also can hold each other accountable and help each other. With habit stacking and visible habits, you can embed your flow strategy into your personal and work-life dramatically increasing the odds that you can enter flow and dramatically reducing distractions. Let's look at our worksheet. Let's take a moment here to write down and highlight all the things that you can do to build your habit stacking and your visible habits. Try to list out three or five of each and then think about how you can add them to your schedule, add them to a calendar, and told you so. In the next lesson, we're going to talk about how you can take the strategies that you've put in your own life, and how you can help everyone on your team also find their flow, making a contagious and multiplying the effects and productivity boost. 6. Encouraging Flow on Your Team: In this lesson, we're going to talk about taking the strategies that you've embedded in your own life and making them contagious amongst your teams. In a world where work transcends in the hybrid, keeping everyone on the same page is critical. So being aware of your teammates' optimal work environments is important. Especially today, a lot of companies are now hybrid. When someone really wants to focus or going flow, maybe they work from home. When they're in the office, they still need to find flow and they still need to be productive. So making sure that you're not distracting or tapping someone on the shoulder or really taking them out of flow if they look to be deeply in focus, it's just something to be aware of and also something to encourage for when you are in flow. Think about how you and your teammates in your office or at home or remote, can all set each other up to succeed in each of those scenarios, because it's going to be a little different in each one. That's really as simple as thinking about what are the triggers or signals to other teammates that someone might be going into flow. Maybe that's, they've gone and grabbed a diet Coke from the fridge or their favorite drink or they put on over-the-ear headphones. Really whatever we can do to help people optimize and share the signal that they're about to enter the flow state. Give your teams the permission to enter the flow state, be productive and focus on the work and make it clear to everyone else that that's what they're doing. Really, especially when you think about visible habits, I would recommend having everyone on the team write down and share and then I would encourage you to put all that on one piece of paper, print it out, and give a copy to everyone on the team. Put a little picture of everyone's head shot next to it and their name, and then what their visible habits are. Hey, when I have headphones on, please don't bother me. When I have this drink in front of me, I'm really focusing right now, or this snack or something, or maybe it's even a sign, something very obvious, and keep it on everyone's desk. Start to remember and make a common place so everyone in the office knows when and where each person is going into flow. What do you think about habit stacking and how that can be contagious to your teams, use your shared calendars. Many workplaces use Google workplace or wherever and you could see your colleagues' schedules and their calendars and so don't be afraid to block off time on your own calendar. Put a hold, put a focus time after that team meeting. Hold to it, don't let people schedule meetings over it. Doing that can really help you increase your productivity and prevent other people from infringing on your time and forcing their to-do list to be yours. Really think about how you can use those shared calendars to your advantage and clearly define those focus periods using habit stacking. 7. Final Thoughts: Thank you so much for being here for Productivity Today finding your flow. To leave you with a few thoughts, I just want to stress this, time is the most precious resource we have and choosing how we spend it and optimizing time is really important. Tapping into flow is something that gives you a massive strategic advantage. If two hours per week equals a 40-hour work week for a normal person, because you've managed to tap into flow according to that McKinsey study, then you could in theory, do a year's worth of work in two weeks, in 13 days of non-stop, eight-hour flow per day. Now I know that's not entirely sustainable, you can't stay in flow for eight hours a day, but the point is this, tapping into flow and finding it in your work is incredibly impactful. It'll give you a strategic advantage on how productive you are and how efficient you can be and most importantly, you're going to enjoy doing your work, you're going to be happy, you're going to be more fulfilled, and you're really going to be in the moment. As we conclude this class, I just want to reiterate, upload and share your class project, post any questions you have in the discussion board and also share your class project with the team. Communicating and sharing that amongst your team is the best way to make flow contagious. Thank you so much for being here, I can't wait to see you in the next one and stay curious everyone. I'll see you in the next Skillshare class.