You know that feeling when you're completely one with an activity and lose all sense of time? The world seeps away and there's nothing left between you and what you're doing. That's called flow.
Flow is a psychological state, the term being coined by psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi (quite the mouthful of a name) and presented in his TED talk. If you've ever experienced it, you probably remember it. It can be achieved in a wide range of activities, mostly notably creative and sporting activities. Csíkszentmihályi set out a few guidelines for a flow state: the challenge should slightly exceed your skill level, to ensure you're out of your comfort zone while still being achievable to give you a sense of control. The activity needs to be intrinsically enjoyable for you: you're doing it for the joy of the experience, not as a means to an end. In doing this, you lose awareness of physical needs and worries and achieve a feeling of serenity.
Not only is a flow state a highly rewarding experience, you will likely produce your best work during it. Undoubtedly, that’s where you want to be. Here. we lay out some guidelines for getting to that elusive state:
1. Develop your skills to meet the challenge: If you're not skilled enough to meet the challenge set in front of you, you'll experience a state of anxiety rather than a state of flow. Take the time to hone and develop your technical skills.
2. Set aside sufficient time: Make sure you have enough to really get into your work. If you allocate too little time, you'll find yourself spending more time trying to empty your mind than working and you may find yourself cut short. Find a balance between your commitments and private time.
3. Meditate: Five minutes beforehand is enough time to practise some mindfulness. Focus your awareness on your surroundings and try to quiet your mind of outside distractions.
4. Take a quick walk: This is particularly helpful if you live close to nature or a park. Many people find getting some fresh air in the outdoors to be a great means of calming their mind.
6. Enjoy what you're doing: The most important part of a flow state is the intrinsic enjoyment of the activity. Remember your love of creation and don't stress about end products - you'll probably come up with something even better if you do.
Try these tips out for yourself and let us know what activity you achieve flow in. Happy creating!
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