Getting in the “Flow”….
One of the biggest conundrums in the way we approach day-to-day life is the concept of “multitasking”. There are suggestions that it helps us achieve more, and people who wear the “multitasker” badge with pride. There are also arguments that multi-tasking reduces productivity because we are simply switching between tasks and not exactly doing multiple things at a time. Productivity arguments aside, personally, I found that multi-tasking and its associated distractions deterred me from getting in the “Flow”.
Now, what exactly is “Flow”? “Flow”, experts describe, is that elevated state of mind when you’re doing something with so much involvement — that nothing else seems to matter. You disregard everything else for the task at hand and are completely engrossed in it.
This seems so difficult to accomplish in the present day and time, when there seems to be so much at stake and FOMO engulfs us, the moment we unplug ourselves from digital and social media. Yet, whenever I’ve achieved some measure of “Flow”, the heightened sense of accomplishment and the overall sense of satisfaction as an individual have multiplied — atleast on that day.
Come to think of it, we’ve all experienced Flow at some point — though we may not have called it as such. For me, it used to be getting immersed in a game of cricket many years ago — where nothing else in the world mattered for the couple of hours, except winning the game for the team. Or sitting with the latest Harry Potter book and reading hundreds of pages at a time. And as I got consumed in the narrative, there would be these five-ten minutes when I would become totally oblivious to the surroundings and be part of the book, experiencing what the characters would themselves go through.
When I reflect, it is true that I’ve stopped experiencing these little periods of “magic” as often as I’d like, in the recent times. Either there is so much going in life — or there is the make believe that there is a lot going on in life, thanks to the devices that have engulfed us on all sides. And even if you’re away from the devices, there are habits that these devices have triggered that makes it difficult for us to be patient enough performing a single task for long enough for us get in the Flow. The order of the day seems to be to keep ourselves “Busy” — and that typically means that we hurry from one task to the other without really trying to derive meaning from any of them. And ironically, in my opinion, being “busy” is counter-productive to creativity.
In the last month or so, I’ve tried to carve out these little chunks of time where I can try to create an environment for me to get in the “Flow” — for may be even five minutes. I realize that getting there is, like everything else, a habit. Focusing on a single task without getting distracted for any length of time is arduous, with or without devices disturbing you. In my professional life, I find maintaining a checklist of tasks and going through them one by one without getting distracted, is a definite candidate for achieving some sense of Flow. I found out that I could complete the checklist in double quick time when I resolve to focus on just that. In my personal life, I’m trying to set aside time to focus on reading and writing without distractions — even if it’s a thirty-minute window, three times a week. In these periods, I may have lost myself in the task may be for three-five minutes before I snap out of the Flow. However, the feel-good part of it stays for a while. It’s as though I’ve done something to nourish the needs of my “intellect”-for want of a better word — and connect with a part of myself that I cherish.
Getting in the Flow or being in the Flow doesn’t always have to be about achieving something impactful. It could be preparing a dish you love in the kitchen and savoring the preparation as much as the delicacy. It could be crooning your favorite song and losing yourself in your own melody. It could be starting off with a writing piece and suddenly realizing that you’ve typed out a page! Well…there you go!