What is flow? What do we need it for? Why should we even consider achieving it? This magic state can be our key to greater wealth and personal recognition.
Psychologists describe flow as a state of hyper-immersion in an activity where one loses awareness of himself, his surrounding, his sense of time, except the activity itself. It is almost like a hypnotic spell where the person is completely absorbed in what he is doing, enabling him to perform to his peak capacity effortlessly.
Imagine an emergency situation where a fire victim, for example, is able to carry a heavy refrigerator out of his burning house in no time at all. Or a person on wheelchair being able to run to safety to escape a building ablaze. Or a surgeon performing a delicate operation for eight hours straight and noticing, just right after the procedure has been completed, that the corner glass décor fell and broke due to a mild earthquake one hour earlier.
Not everybody can get into a state of flow, even if everybody can aim for it. Flow is a creative state, and only the truly creative can achieve it. It is certainly easily demonstrable among artists, writers, designers, architects, musicians, composers, singers, and all those with unusual depths in their creativity. It is possible that there is an unusually creative person in every skill area.
10 Steps to Remember
Here are 10 steps to consider if you are into a creative activity and you want to achieve a result masterpiece.
1. You must, first of all, like or love, the activity. If you are writing or designing or composing, you must love to write, design or compose. If you are a salesman making a presentation, you must love to present.
2. Flow is a result of skillful use of a process. It flows from an ability. If you are a writer, you must know how to write well, considering language usage, grammar, spelling and every other item needed to generate an acceptable writing piece. If you are a carpenter, you must know your tools and how to use them.
3. You must have the materials ready for the creative work. If you are writing an article, you must have done your research earlier on your topic and must make these available and readily accessible as you begin your work.
If you are a surgeon, you must have ascertained that all the equipment, materials and processes for the surgical procedure are ready before the operation starts. And you must have meticulously reviewed your surgical procedure step by step.
Decide to Get Into the Process
Those first three steps are the preliminary conditions to flow. Now, you are ready to begin the flow process itself.
4. You must decide your starting time and when. In a surgery, this is part of the preparations. In writing, flow being a sense or state of being, the date and time currency is crucial to condition the mind that the flow process is about to begin.
5. You must have a clear objective for the activity. If you are designing a website, this must have been properly articulated earlier in your meetings. What design type and how long? If this is writing, an example of an objective, given a topic, is perhaps to complete a three-page article in one hour
6. You must choose a clean and clutter-free work area, where you can arrange your materials for easy accessibility. Your mind must also be worry- and problem-free at this point. You must be shielded from distractions once you get started.
7. Take position. You must take a work position that will allow easy circulation of blood and oxygen throughout your body. If you will be seated, sit upright but relaxed. Your lighting must be for optimum visual efficiency. Breathe deeply ten times to signal your start.
You Have to Begin
8. Begin your creative activity. If you are writing, write your topic title on your paper. Then make a rough outline of how you envision to develop your article. If you are designing a web, write your website name or title, then proceed to outline your site’s navigation map.
9. Proceed according to your outline, map or process flow, making occasional references to your materials whenever necessary. If you are designing, start with your first page, then the second, then the third and so on, never forgetting that all the pages must align to your overall objective in step 5.
By this time, if you have been following every step as suggested, you will most likely be in a state of absolute absorption in your activity in less than 30 minutes. In no time at all, you will begin experiencing the setting of “flow” as you proceed further.
10. Let it flow.
At this state of immersion, your writing will be like water flowing naturally from a wellspring. If you are doing this on your computer, everything will be a smooth coordination of the brain, the keyboard, your fingers, the screen and your eyes. If you have chosen to write at 1 am, the only sound to be heard will be the fingers’ taps on the keyboard. And you may not even hear these at all.
No Sense of Time and Space
In moments of flow, there is no sense of time and space. The only sense is the activity. Depending on the complexity or simplicity of the work to be done, and the depth of the artist, the flow may begin and last sooner or later.
A simple article or design can be finished in 30 minutes to one hour. More complex and more challenging work can take four hours or more to complete.
Flow can also be mastered, meaning an artist can get into it at will. It may be difficult at the beginning, but given more opportunities to sharpen your craft and to experience flow, you can develop it into a skill in concentration.
Flow has its own sweet rewards. Easily, the prize is the result itself. Flow results in great masterpieces. And having done the work yourself, it takes you to a high only you can savor or experience. As you create more masterpieces, the more transcending your optimal enjoyment becomes, not only because of the money but more so because of your exhibited self-mastery.