revising for exams: how to find your flow state

Being ‘in the zone’ or feeling your flow can help you revise for exams more easily. Discover what a flow state of mind is, the benefits and how you can find yours.

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When you’re in your flow state, you'll be able to boost your productivity which ensures you'll retain the information you're learning about. In this article, we explore what flow state is and the steps you can take to stop procrastinating to improve your revision performance. 

flow state meaning

Flow state of mind describes the feeling when you're so ebngrossed in an activity that you don’t think about anything else. When you're feeling 'in the zone,' this is when you know you've reached your flow!

According to the psychologist, Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi, who has carried out extensive research into flow, it’s can be defined as:

‘The holistic sensation people feel when they act with total involvement.’

how to find your flow  

Here's how to use your flow to boost revision performance:

8 strategies to find flow

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switch off your phone - social media and email interruptions will distract your focus

schedule time to do your revision - tell other people you're focusing so they don't disrupt your flow 

choose revision tasks that will stretch you - in a state of flow, you should feel confident you have the skills to complete your task, but it should still provide an enjoyable level of challenge

revise somewhere quiet - you may find it more difficult to become immersed in your revision if you’re surrounded by constant distractions

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be patient - it can take anywhere between 5 and 20 minutes for your flow to kick in

shift your mindset away from unhelpful thoughts - thinking ‘I can’t do this’ or ‘I’ll never remember this’ is counterproductive. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself

record your progress and stay on track - Ticking off your revision as you complete it will help you to feel more positive 

take short breaks to stretch - rest your eyes and stay hydrated, but avoid engaging with other tasks that may disrupt your sense of flow

4 exercises to help tap into your flow

These exercises can help you find your flow, whether you’re revising or at work: 

1. When were you last working in a flow state? Identify the specific details - what was the type of work, where were you working, who were you working with and did you have a deadline? 

2. When you were last in a flow state, as identified above, what skills were you using? Do you have time to do more challenging tasks that better match your skillset? 

3. What practical steps can you take to set up the conditions for more flow working? 

4. What should you stop doing that prevents you from finding time to work in flow? 

While it may not be something you’ve really thought about until now, finding your flow is incredibly useful for boosting productivity.

benefits of a flow state of mind  

The advantages of feeling your flow are reportedly widespread and span beyond making you enjoy certain activities. Benefits include:

  • greater fulfilment - you tend to enjoy what you’re doing more, which is a rewarding and fulfilling experience
  • increased happiness - studies have linked flow to greater levels of happiness and satisfaction
  • enhanced intrinsic motivation - you're more inclined to embark on an activity for the fun or challenge of it rather than because you feel pressure or are going to be rewarded
  • improved engagement - a full involvement in the tasks they are carrying out
  • greater performance - researchers have found that flow can enhance performance in a range of areas, including teaching, learning, creative arts and sports-related activities

our emotional support

Exam revision is no easy feat, especially in the accountancy sector. Don't hesitate to get in touch with our team, whether you just need a listening ear or practical steps to get you back on track. We can connect you to a number of therapy pathways including 1 to 1 online or telephone counselling to help you navigate challenges.

talk to us

 

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  1. No matter where your career takes you, past and present members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England Wales (ICAEW) are eligible for caba’s services for life, even if you change your career and leave accountancy 
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