25 Sep 2014
I use a system rather than a goal (hat tip Scott Adams). A recent subtle addition to my daily process has lead to a disproportionate increase in productivity. What’s even more important is that its lead to an even bigger decrease in anxiety. It is as simple as considering: > At the end of the day, if I have achieved some kind of flow, it has been a good day. > Doesn’t matter what I worked on, doesn’t matter if I was stuck, or if I moved backward.
As long as I had the ability to distance myself from everything except the task at hand, it was the most productive use of my time.
I’ve tried to reverse engineer this ‘zone of flow’. I’ve deconstructed the build-up into two components: set and setting. Getting one right and the other wrong won’t help. I need to get both of them exactly right. This takes a lot of experimenting. Uptil now, this is what I have learnt. My set (read mindset) needs to be upbeat and positive about the task at hand. This involves starting to think (ideally half an hour before I want to flow) about how having this task done would make me feel, and then working towards getting that feeling. The setting (read environment) needs to be quiet, with no (or very little) interruptions, light music, coffee and dim lighting.
I’ve tried ‘flowing’ many times, but with an unflattering success rate (I’d say about 30%). I’m still searching for some intangibles that I have not accounted in. Maybe I’ll strike a personal formula some day. Until then I can only focus on getting the set and the setting perfect everytime, and hope to reach the zone. There is something about being in that zone of flow that sparks my curiousity to learn more about it. I’m sure everyone has felt it at some point, but the trick lies in internalizing that feeling when everything falls in place. So try it, learn from it, go and get that singular focus and the weird time warping that accompanies it.
Kill the noise, flow everyday.
Or, you know, maybe just chase the Ballmer Peak :P
Til next time,