The hidden art of achieving creative flow

30 Jul

Original source: http://zenhabits.net/creative-flow/

9 ways to achieve creative flow

  1.  Pick a enjoyable, challenging activity. The easiest way to enter flow is by doing something you love. The activity also needs to challenge you, one you are extremely passionate about, that you enjoy doing, and that causes you to grow. If the activity is boring to tedious you won’t enjoy it, and so there is no way you can engage in flow.
  2. Eliminate distractions. Turn off your phone, log out of twitter, switch off gmail. If you’re constantly flipping back and forth between different tasks you’ll never be able to achieve flow. A foreign distraction will quickly bring you out of the flow mindset.
  3. Think before you do. Do any research or preparation before you engage in the activity you wish to flow in. If you stop and do research while writing, or have to grab a bite to eat in the middle of a run, you’ll throw yourself out of the grove. Preparation is the only way to avoid that.
  4. Isolate yourself. The best way to achieve flow is alone. If you’re in a room full of people, your mind will constantly be drawn away from what you’re doing. Shut the door, put on headphones, or find another way to isolate yourself.
  5. Let go. Give up any expectations that you have for yourself. If you enter a flow situation with preconceptions about the results that you’ll get from the practice, you’ll inevitably disappoint yourself. You also run the risk of narrowing your focus to a point where you can’t change coarse naturally if your flow takes you down a road less traveled.
  6. Give yourself a time limit. Like Bradbury, set a timer on your activity. Give yourself 30 minutes of uninterrupted flow time and just go at it with everything you’ve got. Forget about how much time you’ve been doing the activity, and how much time you have left, just flow. You may just find that you lose track of time completely.
  7. Keep moving. Continuous motion is key to flow, don’t give your mind a chance to start second guessing what you’re doing. Keep moving with the activity you’re flowing in. Go at a pace that’s challenging for you, but not overwhelming. You want to be calm and collected, but also have forward momentum.
  8. Don’t think. Switch off the part of your brain that observes what you’re doing. This is your self-consciousness, your ego, your sabotage. Why flow is so important is that it circumvents the necessity to constantly critique yourself. This can be hard, if you’re used to constantly second-guessing everything you do, but it is so important to successfully entering flow.
  9. Practice. Like any useful skill, flow takes time to master. Don’t stress if you can’t do it right away. If you’re interested in achieving a state of flow, you need to practice regularly. Set a time every day that will be dedicated flow time. Eventually you’ll start to recognize when you’re flowing, and when you’re not. After many hours of practice, you’ll eventually become a flow master.
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