When was the last time you were so engrossed in a work project that by the time you looked up to check the clock, you were shocked to see that hours had flown by?QUIZ: Which Activities Help You Find Happiness?That’s what experts call flow, which “happens when you’re so engaged in what you’re doing that time seems to stop and you just keep going,” says Susan Perry, Ph.D, a social psychologist and author of the Creating in Flow blog at Psychology Today.Now what if you could recreate that feeling on a regular basis when you’re logging hours in the office? Just think how much you could accomplish. Well, here’s some good news: You can—and you don’t need to be a world-class concentrator to do this. It just takes some expert know-how.Follow these nine key factors for finding (and keeping) your flow at work:1. Create a beginning ritual. “Set up a system that tells your brain it’s time to get started working,” says Perry. This could be as simple as drinking your morning coffee and scrolling through the news for 15 minutes. You may even have a routine without realizing it, but recognizing your ritual as a necessary start to your day is a good way to prepare yourself for work.2. Ditch the distractions. Experts agree that distractions are the most common culprits for pulling people out of flow. So clear the clutter from your desk and put away anything that will tempt you to lose focus—in particular, your smartphone, which many people keep within sight of their work area, notes Timothy A. Pychyl, Ph.D., a professor in the department of psychology at Carleton University in Ottawa and author of “The Procrastinator’s Digest: A Concise Guide to Solving the Procrastination Puzzle.” As hard as it may be, turn off your phone or put it on silent, place it in a drawer and only allow yourself to check it at specific times throughout the day.MORE: How to Find Your Flow3. Overpower procrastination. Dreading that new project you were planning to start, um, yesterday? Putting off a work assignment until you absolutely have to deal with it? Procrastination is a roadblock to flow, but Pychyl’s research found that before study participants started a task (i.e. when they were procrastinating), they felt that what they had to do was difficult and stressful, but once they actually got to the task they realized it wasn’t as bad as they had made it out to be. Note to self: Remind yourself of this when you’re putting off a dreaded or daunting task. Most likely, the work is not as bad as you envision and just getting started is the easiest way to conquer it quickly.4. Make your goals specific and active. You have to be strategic in order to stay focused, according to Pychyl. The simple trick of learning how to implement your goals—rather than focusing on your intentions—can help you get into the zone on a daily basis. For example, instead of saying that you want to work on an Excel project (which is vague), say you’re going to complete two pages of the spreadsheet by the end of the day in order to move towards finishing the entire project in two weeks.5. Challenge yourself. The task at hand needs to be somewhat challenging in order for you to reach flow, notes Perry. In other words, if it’s too boring, your flow will fizzle. An easy fix that anyone, in any job, can do: create an internal challenge. Creating challenges on menial tasks also makes activities more fun, which increases the chance that you’ll find and maintain flow, according to Pychyl. So if you’re folding clothes all day in a retail store, set up a contest with yourself to see how many shirts you can fold perfectly in a one-hour time period. If you’re writing a less-than-thrilling document in the office, try to complete a certain amount of words before lunchtime and reward yourself with a walk outside if you achieve it.MORE: Three Ways to Relieve Stress at Work6. Quit multitasking. Seriously. Even if you think you’re a pro at multitasking, chances are it’s really just counterproductive. “Every time you switch your focus, your brain has to stop and then pick back up again,” explains Ryan Howell, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology at San Francisco State University, director of the Personality and Well-being Lab and founder of BeyondthePurchase.org, an academic website that helps consumers evaluate their happiness. “It’s actually much more efficient to stay on one task.” Yes, this means you should close 11 of the 12 browser tabs you have open on your computer right now. Instead, try setting an alarm for 20-minute (or longer) chunks of time so you can still switch from task to task, but this way, you’re only focusing on one at a time.7. Go easy on the email. Constantly checking email is another big distraction and detriment to flow that most office workers deal with, according to Howell. Even though it may only take a few seconds, it pulls you out of your zone and can affect concentration. To boost your chances of going with the flow, only allow yourself to check email every 30 minutes. If the little preview window that pops up in the bottom right corner of your screen tempts you to click over, change the settings in your email client (such as Entourage or Outlook) so this doesn’t appear, suggests Perry.8. Take care of yourself. Your lifestyle habits can keep you from getting in the zone at work. “Stress, lack of sleep and a poor diet can make you more susceptible to getting distracted during the day,” says Howell, who noticed that he slept better and thought more clearly at work after he changed his diet and started eating healthier—namely, by munching on more fruits and vegetables and easing up on heavy meat meals like burgers. Besides getting enough sleep each night, stay satiated during the day by not skipping meals and ditch the junk food, suggests Perry. Both of these factors can alter your brain functioning because they affect your hunger and blood sugar levels.MORE: Conquer Cravings With These Three Breakfast Fixes9. Have a recovery plan of action. Inevitably, things are going to come up throughout the day that will take you out of your flow, but you can’t let each one completely derail your productivity, notes Perry. Find a quick way to get back on track. This can be as simple as telling yourself: “Okay, as soon as I answer this phone call, I’m going to go right back to the project I was working on.”