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Table 2 Common descriptive features of hyperfocus and flow, based on the most commonly reported features of hyperfocus and Nakamura and Csikszentmihalyi’s (2009) criteria for flow

From: Hyperfocus: the forgotten frontier of attention

Hyperfocus criteria Corresponding flow criteria/experiences
Hyperfocus is characterized by an intense state of concentration/focus Intense and focused concentration on the present moment
When engaged in hyperfocus, unrelated external stimuli do not appear to be consciously perceived; sometimes reported as a diminished perception of the environment Merging of action and awareness
Loss of reflective self-consciousness (i.e., loss of awareness of oneself as a social actor)
Distortion of temporal experience (typically a sense that time has passed faster than normal)
To engage in hyperfocus, the task has to be fun or interesting Experience of the activity as intrinsically rewarding, such that often the end goal is just an excuse for the process
Perceived challenges, or opportunities for action, that stretch but do not overmatch existing skills
During a hyperfocus state, task performance improves A sense that one can control one’s actions; that is, a sense that one can in principle deal with the situation because one knows how to respond to whatever happens next