Mondays are productivity days at SimpleProductivity blog.
Flow is that state where everything just flows out of you. Ideas, words, code, anything just streams out easily and effortlessly. It is productivity at its pinnacle.
On the flip side, not being in a flow state is stodgy, slow, and takes a lot of time (comparatively). It takes much longer to produce what you need to.
So how can you get to flow? Believe me, it isn’t something that just magically happens. It is something you can cultivate and stimulate. Here are 8 ways to get you started.
1. Make A Focus List
Sit down, and make a list of no more than five related items you need to focus on right now.
By making a list of what you are trying to focus on, you jump start the process of creativity. You think about what you are trying to do, and funnel your energy in that direction.
Having a focus list also allows you to weigh other things against it. You can evaluate each idea that starts bugging you against the list, and if it doesn’t fit in the related items, you can move past it.
2. Tune Out
Many times when we search for the flow state, every last little sound can grate on us and pull our focus away. (Ever try to work in a room with a dripping faucet?) Tune out to get past this.
While some people will listen to music, it is actually better to listen to something less engaging while seeking flow. I like to use Pink Noise or Nature Sounds.
3. Just Do It
Once you know you want to get to flow and get some things done, you need to get started. Don’t rearrange things on your desk, don’t clear out your email so it won’t distract you. Just get working.
Starting on a project is often half the battle. Get started and you’re halfway to won.
4. Stop In Mid-Sentence
To jump-start flow at your next session, stop midway into the next item. This means stop at a place where the next step is obvious. It could be in mid-sentence for writing, mid-brushstroke for painting, or whatever works.
The next time, you will read what you were doing, and pick up in the same train of thought, already moving.
5. Brain Dump
Writing down everything that is in your mind is a great way to clear it of distractions that may prevent flow. Spend five minutes (or ten at most) and write down everything that pops into your head.
Clearing the decks gives way to an open space to achieve flow.
6. Move A Muscle
I’ve often heard “move a muscle, change a thought.” I don’t know what the science (if any) is behind this, but getting into a new place by physically moving can often get you started. It may be that switching your environment away from reminders of other things you have to do shifts you into flow.
If you know that you have the next hour to work on your projects, to the exclusion of everything else, you can slip into flow much easier than if you have five minutes. Blocking out time on your schedule gives you permission to concentrate on the task at hand, knowing you have time to get to everything else later.
8. Have A Trigger Or Ritual
I apply a technique learned from Pzizz to fall asleep faster: I have a routine. When I need to get some serious writing done, I hit the shower first. There is something about the pulsating water that puts me in the mind frame where I can produce effortlessly.
Your ritual might be something as simple as pulling out materials and placing them in a certain way, or as elaborate as taking a shower. Once the routine is established, you can use it to trigger flow quickly.
How do you get into flow? Share your tips below!
Photo by Benurs – Learning and learning…