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The science behind FLOWN

We've taken the research behind deep work and flow states

– what makes us creative, productive and fulfilled –

and built our toolkit of products to deliver every element


Based on the research and science in Cal Newport's book of the same name, 'deep work' is work performed in a state of focused concentration – the state you need to be in to do significant, creative work.

By tapping into neural triggers that have been part of human wiring for millennia, FLOWN's tools enable you to consistently do deep work.

Each resource is built around three key elements of this deep work practice, each scientifically proven to boost creativity and productivity.

Here's how they work...

To do great work, you need to focus

At the heart of a deep work practice is learning how to focus better. With so many online and offline distractions these days, it's no wonder that human attention spans have shortened by a third since the year 2000. Scary stuff, right?!

So, why does focus matter?

Distraction kills productivity

A 2015 study at the University of California found it can take more than 23 minutes to fully regain focus following a distraction. This is due to a phenomenon known as 'attention residue' – whereby your brain can’t fully move on from whatever you were distracted by. Attention residue reduces productivity by 40%.

Focus makes you smarter

When you focus on one thing at a time, the brain cements learning through a process known as 'myelination', strengthening the connections between neurons so they can fire faster. This process is triggered when you concentrate deeply on a regular basis, which means learning to block out distraction allows you to get more done and makes you smarter.

Focus with FLOWN

Flocks are our digital co-working spaces for deep work. These expertly facilitated online sessions leverage several practices that are proven to promote focus and productivity. Here's how…

The power of implementation intention

A 2015 study by the American Association for Talent Development found that stating an intention to another person increases the chance of completing that task by 65%. Meanwhile, having a specific accountability appointment with someone ramps the chance of completion up to a whopping 95%.

Set intentions with FLOWN Flocks

Expertly led by a facilitator, each Flock session connects you with other like-minded professionals in virtual breakout rooms to state your intentions for what you'll work on. You then work in companionable silence toward your goal before rejoining your breakout room at the end to feed back on how you got on.

The Hawthorne Effect

Although virtual co-working in this way may feel strange initially, working alongside others leverages another powerful psychological mechanism, known as the Hawthorne Effect (so named after studies at the Hawthorne Works, Illinois in the 1920s and 30s).

Studies show that the feeling of being watched is a powerful motivator. Not only do we work harder, we also think more deeply, are more creative, and even feel what we are doing is more meaningful when we have an audience. It's a cognitive cocktail that causes our productivity to skyrocket.

How Flocks boost focus

By combining these hardwired human tendencies of intention and accountability, Flocks provide the ideal environment to help you focus and get more done, more easily. Which is why 88% of all members who try them come back for more.

Discover FLOWN Flocks

To stay productive, you need to recharge

When you concentrate, you engage in what's known as 'directed attention'. It's a form of attention that can only be sustained for limited intervals. This means that for your brain to perform at its best, it needs to be replenished in the right way.

How you recharge matters

Focusing for too long can lead to a phenomenon called 'inattentional blindness', where you fail to notice important details and become more prone to errors.

A 2011 study found that exhausting your mental reserves in this way can also result in what's known as 'decision fatigue', where your capacity for sifting information becomes severely hampered.

When you fail to recharge your brain, you compromise your judgement and your ability to focus.

Recharge with FLOWN

Scrolling through your social feeds is tempting, but although this habit delivers an appealing dopamine hit, to actually recharge your brain requires you to tap into practices and exercises that are proven to properly replenish your grey matter. At FLOWN, we've an assortment of tools designed to do just that...

The alpha wave

Alpha waves are the calm rhythms that dominate in our brains when we're truly at rest. They are associated with improved wellbeing, focus and creativity.

Studies show that alongside replenishing the brain's resources, they also inhibit habitual associations in the brain, allowing us to become open to more innovative ways of thinking.

Recharge with Quests

Quests combine elements of positive constructive daydreaming and mindfulness to get you away from your desk and fire up those handy alpha waves.

Designed to engage the brain's reward circuitry, these 10-minute audio experiences get you out of your mind and into your senses – the ideal way to recharge and get primed for focused work.

Breathe easy

Breath and posture are often overlooked when it comes to managing energy through a typical workday. But a conscious approach to how you breathe has been shown to reduce stress and positively affect the heart, brain, immune system and digestion.

There's evidence it may even enhance the expression of certain genes.

Breath and body

Breath and Body is a dynamic guide to using breathwork and other exercises to keep your mind charged and ready for focus.

Each video provides a brief step-by-step guide on how to consciously control your breath and move your body to reduce stress, aid circulation and elevate those alpha brainwaves that can lead to fresh thinking.

Breath and Body is the perfect tool for recharging between bouts of deep work so you can stay mentally fresh throughout the day.

To do great work, you need to play and explore

It’s scientifically proven that you can’t focus all the time. So what should you do in your downtime? Research shows that play, learning and exploration are superfoods for those who want to lead productive, creative and fulfilled lives.

Routine ruins creativity

Researchers at Columbia University found that when we don't step away from our work, our thinking becomes stale. We continue to come up with 'new' ideas while failing to realise how similar they are to the ones we've already generated.

Although it can feel like we're on a roll and gathering momentum, the reality is that without regular but structured intervals that switch our focus, our progress becomes limited.

Play and explore to accomplish more

As well as reducing stress hormones such as cortisol, playful exploration helps to trigger divergent thinking – an ideal brain state for problem-solving and creativity.

Along with play, novel experiences and learnings help to build new neural pathways in the brain.

With openness to experiences correlating strongly with creativity, engagement with unfamiliar stimuli (mentally or physically) can help to prime the brain to generate fresh insights and new ideas.

This is why numerous studies show that adults who make time for play and exploration show increased levels of productivity, creativity, health and happiness.

Explore with FLOWN

Our deep work toolkit not only helps you focus as you work, but become more creative as you play and explore.

Here's how the tools work…

Why wandering works

Walking, daydreaming and the outdoors are all proven and powerful aids when it comes to boosting wellbeing and enhancing your ability to solve problems.

A combination of these is the motherload when it comes to giving your brain what it needs to be nourished and ready to do deep work.

Boost your brain

Quests aren't just about play. They're also designed to harness the proven effects of immersing in nature. Even if you live in the city, it’s possible to find a little slice of greenery and carve out some restorative time – led by our guided audio meditations.

Numerous studies show that walking and consciously engaging with your senses can be a powerful way to stimulate fresh ways of thinking. Quests offer an excellent way to do both and recharge your mind.

Diverse thinking matters

Being exposed to divergent ideas has been shown to improve creative output and problem-solving.

Novel learnings act as a counterpoint to your area of expertise by disrupting patterns of thought and keeping you from what researchers term 'cognitive rigidity' – so that you can deploy your skills and experience in more innovative and impactful ways.

Broaden your mind

Reading books has been shown to rewire the brain. But acquainting yourself with divergent learnings in a more bite-sized way can also produce powerful benefits.

The Almanac offers delightfully random but fascinating five-minute reads designed to help widen your thinking. And the great thing? You won't be overwhelmed by selection-scrolling – your Almanac entry is served to you serendipitously.

The science has spoken

FLOWN's tools are built around proven ways to get the very best from yourself and maximise your experience of work. Join us now and let's get started.

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