I love the feeling of flow during work, where I know I am flying through my tasks, accomplishing more than I planned, where time and food take a second place from focus.
I first found out about Flow when I was doing my honors thesis. Flooding my brain with knowledge, I came across the book “Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.
He says: “You know that what you need to do is possible to do, even though difficult, and sense of time disappears. You forget yourself. You feel part of something larger.”
I realized I had experienced Flow and I could perfect it, in my work life and personal life. In my world the biggest problem with experiencing Flow, was getting into it, and not being distracted out of it. Here are some points I have come up with personally, which have helped me stay in Flow longer, and generally achieve positive and productive days.
Start your day with your own (positive) thoughts
I find I am in the best flow when I am in a positive mood. This can be hard to accomplish when you wake up to emails, statuses, texts, phone messages etc. I don’t recommend having the world crashing down on you first thing in the morning. I truly believe you need to start the day with your own thoughts to be positive and productive.
I used to read my emails, social media stuff, texts, everything, every morning in bed – as soon as I woke up. It took me a long time to realize how destructive and unproductive that was. By the time I got up and in front of my computer, my head was scattered and I was procrastinating all morning. All of those negative, positive, passive aggressive messages can really affect your mood and focus.
Planning your thoughts in the morning is a sure way to have a productive day. I read a chapter of a positive, inspiring or interesting book, or do a salute to the sun (yoga), or reflect on my vision board for a moment. Then over coffee I spend time writing down what I want to accomplish for the day. By mid morning or lunchtime I am ready to face the thoughts of everyone else in the world.
Do something active when changing hats/tasks
These days our jobs require us to wear many hats. Owning my own business, I battle with numbers and creative work, legal, social media. It is difficult to jump into the next task when it can often be so different, and when your brain is in the old task, you become unproductive.
I do something active in between different tasks. I always stand up and leave my desk. Get a tea, do some quick stretches, step outside, walk up and down the stairs. I find this activity helpful with transitioning. I visually set the old task behind me and focus on the new one while doing this activity.
Listen to Mozart
When working in an office, it was nearly impossible to not hear the office comings and goings, gossip, chit chat. It is a distraction. And when working at home, silence can be deafening. I’m a believer in background noise affecting your mood and productivity. Rap, heavy metal, or even sad songs, may make you feel like a bag of nerves and a bit negative by the end of the day. My good friend recommended I listen to Mozart. It is positive, uplifting and inspiring. When the music is playing I feel like I am working faster.
Don’t leave social media opened or in the background
There are so many distractions now, it is difficult not to be pulled away from your work or daily goals and into another world. Quickly. I keep all social media stuff closed throughout the day. And when I get to it, I do it with an intention and a time limit. If I feel like just looking around, I do this when I am having a break.
Flow is so important to productivity, and if you are constantly being distracted from your tasks, they will take you longer. I really believe people should start paying attention to social media, not be sucked into it unconsciously, log on and log off consciously.
I hope these points help you have some fun with flow!