The Relationship Between Procrastination and Flow

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Experiencing flow is a very important component in one’s life because it plays a crucial part in their positive affectivity, goal setting and performance. Personally, I am highly passionate about the concept of flow and find it to be very captivating. I’ve done research on flow in the past, but I’m still keen on expanding my knowledge and grasping as much information as I can. When experiencing flow, one’s happiness level is increased, and dissatisfaction is lowered.

This is demonstrated in multiple scientific research studies. One research study discovered that older people who experience higher quality flow throughout the course of a week tend to have higher positive affectivity/life satisfaction and lower negative affectivity. 54 participants ages raging from 70-86, were the recipients of this experiment for 7 consecutive days. In order to calculate daily quality of flow experience they were asked to write down specific activities that made them experience flow and subsequently rate them on a 1-5 point Likert scale, where if they were to mark “1”, it would mean they were highly immersed during the activity and “5” if they were severely lacking in concentration.

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These responses were then summed up on a 5-25 scale to calculate their mean score of quality of flow. Similarly, to measure quality of flow, the participants were asked to measure their affect levels by rating their emotions on an 8 point Likert scale, where they were asked to rate how they felt about a specific adjective (e.g., enthusiastic, happy, disappointed, sad).

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In the end, the results clearly reveal that experiencing higher quality flow will ultimately increase one’s positive affect levels. In another study, flow is also proven to be intrinsically rewarding because experiencing flow will make the person want to replicate their flow experience frequently. In doing so, this helps the person’s cognitive functioning and improves their mental growth substantially. When experiencing flow, the individual is experiencing a series of challenges that are not too hard or too easy, which helps satisfy and heighten their enjoyment level. One study shows that in order to experience flow you MUST discover a balance between your skill and the challenge you’re taking on.

If your skill is too high and the challenge is easy, you are most likely to experience apathy. Whereas, on the contrary, if the challenge is well beyond your skill level, you’ll get frustrated and give up quickly. Therefore, going toe to toe with a challenge that just meets or just exceeds your skill level will be what most likely puts you into a state of flow. For example, in one of Csikszentmihalyi’s studies involving chess players, the players were most likely to experience enjoyment when they were faced with someone of an equal level or a slightly higher level. The results also show that close games were more satisfying (even if the person lost the match) to the individual rather than a complete and utter one-sided victory. Another research study focused on the motivational determinants towards professional swimmers. The 203 Canadian swimmers were asked to answer a questionnaire that was related to motivational factors. The results reported that the reason why they were driven to swim is due to their intrinsic motivation and self-determined extrinsic motivation which are positivity associated with flow.

A similar study pertaining to motivation and the flow experience put emphasis on the relation between procrastination and flow. 262 Korean students were asked to complete a questionnaire relating to procrastination, motivation, and flow. Through the results, it was evident that when the students were lacking self motivation and not experiencing flow moments, they were highly prone to procrastination, which leads to stress and discontentment. The students who reported being more motivated and organized procrastinated a lot less, and they reported experiencing a state of flow a lot more often, leading to feelings of happiness. In order for people to achieve flow, they need to find a task that will keep them absorbed, which means it needs to be something that they find challenging and enjoyable at the same time without losing any focus. When choosing the task, one should see it as something they are particularly interested in because it’ll most likely help them in the long run and impact their life. At this point is should be apparent that acquiring flow can well be a task that you strongly love and are passionate about.

It can vary greatly between individuals, for example: biking, drawing, singing, etc. For one to be consistent with experiencing flow, they need to keep practicing that activity, incrementally (step by step), and with resilience because that’s what makes them stay focused and be in the zone. Setting a goal is also a very important factor when starting out on the path to experiencing flow. The reason being that when finally accomplishing your desired goal, it will be a rewarding and satisfying experience that will push you harder to stay on track and set more goals to attain, thus keeping you in “the zone”. A prime example of someone who experiences flow on a regular basis would undoubtedly be Elon Musk. He is one of the very few truly exceptional human beings on this planet who has done countless enormously influential things despite his relatively young age of 47.

He has owned and continues to own companies worth millions and even billions of dollars, and he is, quite literally, constantly coming up with fantastic innovations, while at the same time being a pioneer in such things as space exploration, renewable energy sources, artificial intelligence etc. To say that Elon works hard would be a gross understatement. This is a man who has achieved a level of greatness and expertise that likely took years upon years and tens of thousands of hours to attain, none of which included any procrastination or monkeying around. Elon himself has said that he often works 15 to 17 hour days, leaving little room for sleep or time to waste.

He is constantly challenging himself to come up with the latest, greatest thing, and his efforts have, time and time again, proved very useful. The life Elon lives require extraordinary discipline and expertise, and his accolades and accomplishments are a testament to the seemingly endless state of flow he experiences. In terms of him acquiring happiness, he states that his workload isn’t holding him back from his love and happiness, and, in fact, by him striving to improve the world’s development and finding great success, he experiences great joy and happiness. This, ultimately, demonstrates that he lives an extraordinarily satisfying life where he reaps the benefits from his superhuman state of flow. Elon is the epitome of the ‘flow experience’, and it is a true wonder and privilege that such a man even exists.

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The Relationship Between Procrastination and Flow. (2023, Feb 21). Retrieved from

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