The Impact of Working Without Distractions

How focus and flow changed the way I work

Jessika Bielig
idealo Tech Blog
8 min readAug 9, 2021


Photo by Simon Wilkes on Unsplash

For the past six months, I have worked with dedicated blocked time slots for focused work (Flow Working Sessions) once or twice a week. During this focus time, I wasn’t just super productive but it also changed the way I work and even the way I view work.

Today the amount of my meetings per week has significantly decreased. The quality of my meetings, my concentration, my delivery time, and the quality of my work have increased. I have less stress, more joy, create more value for my job and generate more output in a shorter period.

Six months ago I was just as busy as most of you: many projects at the same time, many meetings, too much to handle, and only little got done on time. Keep reading, if you want to know how I got there and if this is something you can achieve for yourself. (Spoiler: Yes, you can).

I have less stress, more joy, and create more value for my job in a shorter period.

What Do I Mean When Speaking of Focus and Flow?

When I talk about focus and flow in this blog post, I am referring to the individual ability to fully focus on a subject and enter a flow state of mind (deep absorption) while doing so (for more information check out the books from Mihály Csíkszentmihályi).

The individual ability to fully focus on a subject and enter a flow state of mind.

Being able to enter this flow state takes a lot of practice. Once you have this ability, you will work with much more satisfaction and ease.

The Flow Working Sessions I use, are scheduled for three hours and have two short breaks in between. During this time there is supposed to be no distraction (Chat, WhatsApp, E-Mails, etc.) This, by the way, is already a game-changer itself. Before I start working it is important to set the stage. This means I empty my brain and declutter my thoughts by writing them all down. Once I did this, I can start prioritizing by deciding which task is most purposeful for my job today. I break this task down, define its result, and its perfectionism level. Now I am fully focused and can start working on the one topic I defined to be the most purposeful today. (To get a detailed run-through of this process, check out this article).

How Did I Manage to Do That for Six Months?

In November 2020 I participated in a Flow Working Training from Dr. Antoine Larchez, which I can highly recommend. This is where I was introduced to the concept of Flow and how Flow Working could look like.

If you are not super experienced doing this, the best way is to use a structured format to prevent your habits from drawing you somewhere else. After experiencing the flow state myself by using this format, I decided with my colleague Coco to keep doing this at least until April 2021 and see how it goes. We knew the idea is great but were skeptical whether we would be able to go through with this.

Here are 3 tips that helped to keep this idea alive.

# 1 Block Your Flow Working Sessions Way Ahead of Time and Prioritize

This is the most important one.

Photo by Eric Rothermel on Unsplash

We decided to block 3 hours of Flow Time twice a week. In the following months, I managed to attend almost all Flow Meetings. This was not always easy, when “more important projects” want to be squeezed into your calendar on short notice. What helped me was exactly that. I decided in the beginning to prioritize the Flow Meeting very high and by blocking the time weeks or months ahead, colleagues knew when I was available and when I was not.

# 2 Invite Others to Join the Flow Working Session

This is the fun one.

Photo by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash

The more the merrier 😊. I held most Flow Working Sessions with other colleagues. Usually 1–4 other people. It is easier to try out something new and get used to it when you do it with other people. Besides that, it motivated me a lot to see what my colleagues achieved in only 3 hours of flow and it strengthened our spirit of working focused and just getting stuff done.

# 3 Use a Structured Format

This is the obvious one.

Flow Working Template by Jessika Bielig

I created a template in miro, so people can easily follow the steps for the Flow Working Sessions. Even though I created the template and know it by heart, I use it every time. As a visual aid, it helps to bring the group together and it makes the steps easy to understand and everyone knows what is happening next.

What Did I Learn While Working With This New Method?

Easy. I have fun working like this.

The process gives me structure and clarity. It clears my head, I reflect on my thoughts, my priorities and know how to get started on a project that seems huge and scary.

Photo by S Migaj on Unsplash

Just to know that I will have at least one Flow Time in the following week already calms me and gives me a feeling of security because I know that there is a time in my calendar where I can get the most important things done.

Sharing this experience with colleagues is a way of bonding and bringing me one step closer to others. Especially working remotely, this is a very valuable asset I would not want to miss.

After three hours of Flow Time, I am usually happy, energized, and motivated. This is the best start for a day or a great way to end.

I experienced how important breaks are to stay focused and give the mind the rest it needs after a certain period. My brain functions even better with breaks regularly.

Coco says: And rumor has it, this is true for most human brains as well 😊.

Another colleague says: For the first time, I realized how much more a break is effective when you take it before you need it.

Hard to believe: the world keeps spinning, even though I am not available for three hours on Teams chat, via E-Mail, or WhatsApp.

I know that there is a time in my calendar where I can get the most important things done.

How Did I Personally Change?

What I have learned grew over time and is similar when asking others who did the same “experiment”. I recently realized how this working method changed my working habits and changed some of my behavior. Not all of it was obvious and to be foreseen just by working with 1–2 Flow Working Sessions per week. I noticed changes everywhere in my work life. Let me share that with you.

I can rely on my flow working sessions. I know I will get the stuff done, that needs to get done. Thus, I have less stress and anxiety that I don’t get anything done on time.

I am more calm and secure with the things I do. It is easier for me to make good, well-thought-through decisions.

It is easier for me to say “no”. Hallelujah on that one! Because working with focus does not allow you to multitask. And since this way of working became so natural for me, I consequently must say “no” to make it work.

Photo by Daniel Herron on Unsplash

My calendar is now my friend and not my enemy. Which means there are no 30-minute meetings.

I make sure that there are breaks between my meetings and during my meetings once they exceed a length of 80 minutes.

I now tend to work with longer meetings. I got so used to working and focusing for a longer period on one topic, that I do this for matters outside a Flow Meeting as well.

I do not answer chat messages or e-mails in between. I have dedicated time for that.

I got better (not accurate) at estimating how much time I need for a task. This means I do not overcommit as much as I used to. Thus, I am more reliable for my colleagues.

The biggest behavior change and probably the most valuable: I only start a task when I know that I can finish this task in the given timebox. This means that a task has to wait to be worked on until I have all the resources (e. g. time) I need. This is the most interesting change, as this is something I rather do automatically and just realized when reflecting on this blog post.

Obviously, I really like this working method. Call me a fan, if you like. I got used to working like this so much, I cannot imagine working any other way. And I am not willing to go back to the old “super busy — 10 meetings a day — always available — deprioritizing — context switch — hustle”. No. Just no.

If you would like to make this experience yourself, start by blocking your calendar for focus work. If you do not feel confident to start on your own, ask a colleague. Try it out for at least three weeks and see how your perspective changes.

Here Are Some Sources That Might Interest You for a Little Deep Dive.

Flow & Focus for Yourself

· Flow Working with Dr. Antoine Larchez

· BUSYNESS — How You Create It, And How to Stop It

Flow & Focus for Your Team

· The Flow-Centered Retrospective — Learn to Make Your Team Flow

· Predictably Speed up Your Product Delivery

Looking for a job where you can work fully focused and enter your personal flow state of mind? Check out our vacancies.

PS: This blog post was written in flow working sessions only :).