The key elements of flow are
- The merging of action and awareness in sustained concentration on the task at hand,
- The focusing of attention in a pure involvement without concern for outcome,
- Self-forgetfulness with heightened awareness of the activity,
- Skills adequate to meet the environmental demand, and
- Clarity regarding situational cues and appropriate response.
When I sit down in my office at to write, I enter a state of flow and I love it. I see and feel nothing but the words before me.
The state of flow is when you are so fully focused on the task at hand that you no longer realize the passage of time. You may not feel heat or cold (I don’t) and you may not hear what is said to you. Being in this state of allows you to achieve high productivity and be happy at the same time.
To enter the flow state, you need a goal; you need to know what you want to do and why. Vague intentions don’t trigger the flow state.
The task you face needs to be just hard enough to be a challenge. If it is too easy you don’t need to be in a creative state. If the task is too hard you may lose confidence and doubt your ability to complete it! That will probably mean you don’t allow flow to happen!
Your environment can make it harder or easier to enter flow. But this is something you need to work out for yourself by trial and error.
Some people work best in the fresh air. I love my own little office at home – very plain, no distractions and everything I need at hand.
I have to be careful about temperature though. When I’m in flow I don’t seem to feel the cold. If I leave the window open, I come out of flow, freezing cold.
Dedicate time to getting into flow and staying in it! It takes a little while to get into it.
For me it takes about half an hour to really get in and I can stay there for about an hour and a half to two hours. After that I start to need something to eat and drink and I need to move round. Those things clearly take me out of flow. But it’s down to trial and error again.
Try to prevent interruptions and distraction during your creative period.
Delivering a tangible piece of creative work requires tools such as a computer, a musical instrument, a paint brush etc! You need to practice their use until you are competent. No amount of creativity will make up for a lack of competence.
You have to practice before you can enter the flow state and make something worthwhile.
Entering and maintaining the highly creative flow state is a skill, not an accident and it is not a talent given to few! You can practice and you can find your own state of flow with perseverance.
Once you learn to harness the power of flow, just wait, your creative output will soar.