Mind full or mindful? Frazzled or “in the flow”? The demands of today’s hyper-connected and “always on” social and work environments certainly contribute to feeling frazzled. Too many interruptions, too much data, being over stimulated and an excessive number of demands all keep your mind racing backwards and forwards, feeling distracted, worried and increasingly stressed. And instead of having a clear focus and getting things done, you can’t seem to get started on your tasks and feel perpetually frazzled…
Now, cast your mind back to a time when you were so engaged in an activity that you lost all sense of time. When you were focused and fully concentrating, firing on al cylinders and forgetting where you were. That’s what’s known as being in the flow; a most productive and creative state of mind that is both exhilarating and satisfying.
Research on flow was pioneered by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, one of the leaders of the positive psychology movement, who set out to understand the roots of creativity and productivity. He found that we’re most likely to achieve flow when engaged in an activity with the right balance of challenge and skill. That’s when we’re at our best and delivering optimal performance. Being in the flow makes us also more aware; it opens our minds and makes it easier to remember different sorts of information. Making it easier to combine formerly unconnected elements to create something unique or have a “eureka” experience. Being in the flow feels good and makes us feel happy.
How can you get back in the flow and unleash your creativity? Here are 8 tips to help you on your way:
- Set a goal, one that is clear enough to provide focus but sufficiently open to leave room for free-flowing creativity.
- Ensure your skills match the challenge of the task. If the task is not challenging enough, you will get bored. If the challenge is too great you will get frustrated.
- Surround yourself with interesting objects or select an inspiring location to spark your creative thinking.
- Remove distractions and ensure you can fully concentrate on the task. Put mobile devices on mute and put a “do not disturb” sign on the door.
- Use your senses, notice your environment, how things look, feel and smell. By letting your senses come alive your mind will open up to new experiences and ideas.
- Flow feeds happiness and happiness feeds flow. Happiness expends creative thinking and allows you to see new perspectives and associations.
- Visualize your goal, it will help sculpt your brain’s neural pathways and stimulate a “can do” mindset.
- Embrace failure, as there is no creativity without failure and in the flow there is always a risk of failure. No guts no glory!
From feeling frazzled to getting back in the flow, looking forward to hearing what works for you!
Wellbeing@work – the human side of business