Setting the Stage to Experience Flow

[box options]Today’s guest post is by Jason Mundok at The Wood Stove House. I enjoyed working with him on a recent project, The 24 Hour Plays. Enjoy![/box]

Photo Credit: Ernest Koe

I was recently turned on to the psychology term “flow.”

It’s a mental state where a person is so completely immersed in an activity, they enter into a state of pure focus and concentration where time has no meaning and bodily needs are essentially ignored. I’m familiar with the concept from the more common descriptions like being in the zone or in the moment.

For creatives, “getting there” can be very challenging, and the lack of “being there” can prevent any motivation to engage in the creative process. But when it happens, hours slip by and productivity skyrockets. Stuff gets done and it feels great! I’m lucky enough to experience it occasionally, but like other creatives, I’d love for it to be way more often.

I believe that you can’t make flow happen, but I am convinced that there are things you can do to nudge it along. Here are a few:

  • Practice meditation – a great way to explore the present moment. There are a zillion techniques to learn how to mediate. Learn what it feels like to be in the moment so you can call on those feelings when you need to relax. A few minutes of stillness before engaging in an activity can prepare you to enter a state of deep focus.
  • Remove distractions – we are inundated with distractions. Email alerts, texts, and old-fashioned phone calls can break your focus and end your concentration. That’s not to mention our collective fomo that drives our personal addictions to social media. Turn it off (at least for a while). It’s impossible to reach a state of flow if you’re constantly interrupted.
  • Be comfortable – make sure your environment doesn’t cause unnecessary roadblocks. Look around. Is your space conducive to what you’re trying to accomplish? Do you have enough light? Is it too noisy? Does your chair make your body sore? Whatever it is that’s preventing you from full immersion, fix it!

These are just a few simple and free things that you can use to start with to set the stage to experience flow.

[box options]Jason Mundok is a producer of creative performing projects at the Wood Stove House in Lancaster, PA including the Wood Stove House Concerts and Around the Wood Stove, an interview podcast series. You can also find him on Twitter.[/box]

How do you set the stage to let creativity happen?

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Author: Andrew Zahn

I'm a son, husband, dad, business owner, actor and good sleeper/eater. On this blog, I pave a highway for creative growth by providing food, water, and shelter for those wishing to live, work, and play with creative zest.

  • jen wooten

    I am a frustrated vocalist. I write, I sew, I re-purpose old into new. I believe in embracing one’s individuality, dancing outside one’s comfort zone, and hula hooping with abandon.

    • Hula hoop with abandon! 🙂

    • Andrew Zahn

      Do you post any of your creations anywhere Jen? We’d love to see them?

  • Really like your tips (removing distractions is key… is it possible to right with your facebook feed inches from your line of vision? Ha…). Maybe not a very deep answer, but I make sure I’ve had my morning coffee and ate a balanced breakfast. Otherwise I’m all over the place. Happy stomach = happy flow.

    • Thanks, Stephen. I’m reading about more and more people limiting online access to two or three times a day, and even installing self-filtering software to restrict social media to certain time slots. I’ve personally taken some steps in that direction, but not too extreme yet. I think we’ve reached a tipping point with things flashing and beeping around us!

  • I like the diagram that occasionally goes along with the idea of flow where it puts flow between anxiety and boredom. It is difficult to be immersed in something if you are bored with it or if it causes you too much anxiety.

    • Makes sense. I think that’s why it’s something you can’t make happen. The environment, motivation, information, etc. all must be enough that you’re excited (not bored) and well prepared and comfortable (not anxious).

  • Such important points when it comes to achieving more. I have found when I need to write I make sure I remove distractions. Part of this is making sure I’m not distracted with social media or the internet. Great post.

    • Notifications are my enemy – little things that show up in your toolbar or on your phone that say “you’ve got mail!” or whatever. It’s like an addiction; I can’t not look. So I have to turn off all of the little icons.

      • Andrew Zahn

        My push notifications are off because of this. Agree 100 %

  • We have 2 small boys at “camp skottydog” and by the time I get home from work and get the kids to bed, I only have a half hour at most before I need to get to bed. I usually try to spend it with my wife, so creativity gets pushed to the back burner.

    I get up at 5am for work, so getting up at 4 to write would be counterproductive in my case. (no one can possibly have good writing ideas at that ungodly hour).

    My “zone” is in the car usually, during my 60 mile drive to work, watching the sun come up on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. I began using Evernote to record audio, since texting is NOT an option. That is my only time to be in any sort of zone!

    Thanks for the advice! I will begin applying these techniques this week! Great info!

    • Andrew Zahn

      Holy busyman! Way to make use of that 60 miles and Evernote! Would you mind writing a post on your blog about how you do use Evernote and make those miles count (while being safe of course). I’m sure we’d all benefit. If you do, feel free to post the link–I’ll repost it as well!

    • I agree. I’d love to hear how you do that. I used to drive a lot for work (2 or 3 hours a day) and tried using small recording devices, but never got into a groove. I’m not traveling as much these days, but would still love to hear how you deal with the challenge.

      I will say that as my little kids became less little, my creative time grew dramatically. I love doing creative stuff with my girls (age 8 & 10) especially the unstructured creative time we all need, like drawing. We will just sit around with a big box of colored pencils and doodle in shared sketch pads. Great fun!

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