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Seven ways to surf into “deep work” mode more often

“Deep work” mode is where you can make the magic happen: learn more about how you can tap into it.

Written by: Jonathan Thompson

Entering a flow state of mind can feel pretty magical. They’re those moments when you lose track of time (in a good way) and you enter a calm, creative state of concentration that results in fast learning and powerful performance.

The problem is, you may find it hard to achieve that state during a normal workday. But that’s not necessarily a “you problem.” It’s an everybody problem.

In his bestselling book “Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in A Distracted World,” author and professor Cal Newport explains that “most people have lost the ability to go deep – spending their days instead in a frantic blur of email and social media, not even realizing there is a better way.” 

That better way, of course, is to get into flow states more often so you can achieve deep work. And the key to diving into that deeper state is to harness your brain’s alpha waves. 

What are alpha waves?

Alpha waves are at the center of your brainwave spectrum, between 8-12 Hz. When your brain is operating at the alpha frequency, you’re able to absorb new information with ease and you’re significantly more creative. 

Thanks to the 86 billion nerve cells in your brain, there’s always some type of electrical activity going on inside there – and at different times of the day, different waves dominate. When you wake up in the morning, for example, your brain passes from the slow delta waves of slumber into the low frequency theta waves that act as a portal between the dream and waking worlds. Then there’s the “alert” beta waves, when you’re engaged in problem solving or decision making, and the even faster gamma waves, when you’re full of adrenaline and energy, feverishly multitasking to complete impossible to-do lists. 

But when it comes to work performance, the most valuable brainwaves of them all, the gold standard, are your alpha waves. Think of this state as a kind of work hypnosis, where you’re fully engaged with your subject matter, yet completely happy and relaxed as you calmly and deftly decimate deadlines.

You can learn how to increase your alpha waves

The good news is that you can indeed increase your alpha brain waves, if you put your mind to it. 

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