Manage Flow, Not Time

“Control of consciousness determines the quality of life.”
― Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

I measure my day by how long I’ve been in a state known as Flow.

Flow refers to a mental state where one is completely immersed in a feeling of energized focus, and enjoyment.

Like every Innovator I know, being in Flow makes you feel super-human. This is the head-space where our creativity and problem-solving smash together and allow us to be at our best.

When you’re in Flow…

…time doesn’t exist.

…you don’t get hungry.

… everything around you gets shut out.

… you have a complete picture of what you are working on in your mind.

… all you need to do is to “get it out” before that clarity slips away.

For an Innovator, this is the ultimate state of being. It is pure happiness.

When I am in Flow, I’m energized, confident, and creative. When I come out of Flow, I’m still full of energy and positivity.

In fact, I may feel even more energized than I was before entering Flow.

When in Flow you can’t feel sad or depressed.

And that’s good for Innovators.

Prime the Pump to Start Flow

Getting into Flow requires me to prime the pump a bit.

Sometimes Flow just happens.

When it does, I just want to hold on with both hands and keep it alive as long as I can — which is why my head sometimes pops off when I’m interrupted.

Sometimes Flow comes at awful times. While driving. Right before a meeting. As I’m trying to get to sleep.

I had to find a way induce the state of Flow on my terms.

This is one of the reasons why I use my Daily Focus Journal with my daily rituals. The Daily Focus Journal primes the fuel that will get me into the state of Flow.

The first two questions of the Daily Focus Journal’s purpose to help get me into the right head-space.

“What’s my focus for the week”

… gives me the perspective I need to align my day and week.

“What am I really excited about right now”

… helps put me into a positive mental state that makes me want to rush towards my goals instead of away from work.

Before writing out the answers to these questions (which is actually slightly different every single day) I pause and I try to “feel” the excitement.

Now the Flow pump has been primed.

This is also why I hate morning meetings — by this point I’m ready to Get S#!T Done!

Your Calendar is Your Friend

That which is scheduled gets done. That which does not get scheduled does not get done.

I’d be lying if I said I am able to get into Flow every day.

In fact, I’m lucky to get into this state a few times a week. The days that I do get into Flow are exponentially better than those where I don’t.

It takes a while to create a habit. Some suggest 21 days. In my case, I can’t wait for a habit to form — I merely add time with myself to my calendar as a reoccurring meeting, every single workday.

How do YOU get into Flow?

I’m always interested to hear how others get into the state of flow. Some have told me that they suffer from the “Student Syndrome” and use anxiety and stress to trigger “holy shit I need to focus” states of mind. This happens to me all the time as well, however I find it leaves me exhausted versus energized.

How do you get into Flow? What do you do to stay in Flow?

I’m Sharing My Daily Focus Journal With You

For all of these reasons, I want to share my daily planner with all you Innovators out there.

> It’s a free download [here].

Let me know what you think. If it helps, great! If it doesn’t, let me know why not — perhaps I can share some additional tips and tricks that can help.

What’s Your Journey?

I’m really interested in hearing about your challenges as an Innovator. Please share a note, comment or a story. If you like this post, please help by sharing it and giving the post a few claps so it can reach more people.

You can also follow me on twitter @joelsemeniuk where I regularly discuss all things innovation, and more importantly, the personal costs we innovators bear.