July 16, 2010
Five Easy Steps to Finding Your Flow, Part Two
Welcome back! Earlier this week we posted the first part of a two part series called “Five Easy Steps to Finding your Flow”. The first step was developing or discovering a passion for your work. This is not always easily achieved and many find themselves working for a paycheck only. Find that extra motivation and you’ll find successes arrive much more often.
We now conclude the series with the final four steps…
2. Select the Right Task
If the task that you are working on is too easy, too hard or unimportant you’re never going to find your flow. The job at hand needs to be challenging enough that you use your higher-level skills. But on the other hand, you want to avoid challenges that bring frustration and interrupt your rhythm. Likewise, you also need to be doing something that is important enough to matter beyond just pushing papers around.
3. Set the Stage
As mentioned before, distractions are one of the biggest “flow killers” out there. You need to clear your workspace of anything that will rob you of complete concentration. That means you need to silence instant messages, emails and all of those other wonderful devices meant to force us into multitasking hell.
I don’t know about you but I can’t stand the nagging feeling of seeing a new email come in and not being able to at least check on its level of importance. You need to tune all of that out. Work in a quiet room or find something that blocks the world from you while not stealing your distraction.
Sometimes silence isn’t the answer though. Many masters of flow (including yours truly) listen to music while they work, or even play movies that have been seen a million times in the background. I personally find silence deafening, so I need something in the background to keep my mind from wandering. Experiment and find what works best for you.
4. The Hour Matters
Have you ever noticed you do your best work and are most productive at certain hours of the day? Maybe it’s in the morning before everyone else shows up or late at night when your household has quieted down, but everyone has their optimal work time. This is the fertile soil in which flow grows. Combining an environment with no distractions and working at your own optimal time is a huge stepping-stone to achieving flow.
5. Practice Makes Perfect
Getting your mind to enter a certain state of activity is never easy and even those who play on the field of flow regularly can’t always reproduce it. Like anything else, practice makes perfect; keep on trying to find your optimal levels and tweak your routine where necessary.
Most importantly don’t stress about it. If you’re desperately driving for flow then you’ll never get there. It would be like someone putting a gun to your head and trying to force you to relax! Flow happens when you let go, lose yourself in your task and the world around you melts away. Do your best to set the scene and see what works and what doesn’t.