Can you remember a time in your life when you were working on something that completely captivated you – and how delicious that felt?
Author and thinker Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes this as being in a state of “flow”. Flow isn’t a random thing that just happens from time to time. Flow is something you can look for and welcome into your life.
How can you bring flow into any activity?
Choose what you’re working on. Think about why you’re doing what you’re doing. What is your intent? There’s lots of stuff you have to do. What do you want to do?
Visualize the steps to get this work done. If this goal conflicts with or is contrary to something else you’re trying to get done, your mind will be distracted from the goal, so be clear. Take the time to think this through! What is this going to look like when you’re done? And what do you need to do to get there?
Make space and time to focus on this work
This work is important enough for you to choose it – so concentrate on what you’re doing. Block out time. Close the door. Focus on one thing versus splitting your attention.
Commit to what you’re doing
Evaluate yourself as you work. Are you still on track? If something goes off-course, think about what’s happening and what you need to do to get back on track. If you get side-traced one day, start fresh the next day. Keep your commitment to completing this work. You never know where new ideas will take you. Welcome the surprises and move on!
Know your skills
Does this challenge match your skill sets? If it does, it’s easier to get to flow because you won’t be thinking about how to do this – you’ll just be doing it. The same goes it you choose something that’s too easy for you – you’ll be bored. When you’re working on something that keeps you engaged, your mind stays active and focused.
That being said, the work you choose may be to develop a new skill set. That’s awesome. And remember that to be in a flow state, the new skill set needs to be something in your wheelhouse of possibilities.
When you’re in a state of flow, you’ll find a few incredible things happen:
- Everyday problems will fade as you work; your mind will use this work as an escape from everyday issues.
- You will feel in control.
- You will lose your sense of self as you’re working. You won’t be concerned about what anyone thinks of the work you’re doing. Afterward, your sense of self will return, but while you’re working, you disappear.
- Your sense of time may shift – you may work a long time and it will seem like minutes. Or what you’re doing may take only a second but will seem to go on forever.
Mihaly’s wisdom is available in print, in audio CDs, and in TED talks. Look him up if you want to learn more! Reading Flow, was a BOOM moment in my life.
Sending you love and thoughts of organizational Zen from Central Park, NYC
“Grow wild according to thy nature” – Henry David Thoreau