how to overcome the barriers of getting into flow25 Nov 2016
being in flow is super valuable. getting into flow is a difficult thing. it’s even more difficult to get into i tif you aren’t used to working in that way. here are two tips on how to get into flow faster.
recognize that getting into flow takes time
this might sound counter-intuitive, but it’s actually important to recognize, consciously, that getting into flow takes time. it’s similar to weightlifting or doing any strenuous exercise. you don’t go from straight from standing still to lifting a ton of weight or doing an intense yoga pose because you’ll hurt yourself. with flow, you probably won’t hurt yourself, but you’ll definitely set yourself up for failure if you assume you can just jump right into flow.
this same insight helps make the point clearer about why you should maximize the amount of time you can’t be interrupted. the true costs of multi-tasking are high and getting back into flow is costly. so if you know you’re trying to get into flow, get somewhere (physically) where you can’t be interrupted.
practice makes perfect
humans are creatures of habit. thankfully, we can use habits to prompt /trick ourselves into doing what we want. the more times you practice getting into the flow, the better you get at getting in it over time. here are a few examples that either i use or i’ve heard about that are effective:
specific triggers or environments that prompt particular actions
- turning my phone on airplane mode and flipping it face down is my trigger for a pomodoro session
- the first two songs on a specific album are my writing soundtrack. they two songs combined are almost exactly ten minutes (my writing cap-ish). now, when i play them, i know i have exactly two songs to finish my piece. it helps me keep pace (though i often write for too long) and keeps me focused because i that certain parts of the song tell me how much time i have left to finish.
- i heard on a podcast once that a person who has a home office actually does a full morning routine as if he they were commuting before starting work. they shower, eat breakfast, take a walk around the block, and then comes back in their house through a different door and into the home office. it helps him get his head from ‘home’ to 'work’ in a way that works for him.
overall, the point isn’t that any specific trigger with work for everyone (although many of mine are inspired from other people). the point is that practicing getting into flow makes it happen faster and certain triggers over time can help your brain remember that it’s flow time.