Finding the “Flow” in Your Work


How Do You Achieve Flow in Your Work?*This article contains affiliate links for products we love because they help increase our work flow!*

What is flow? How do you find that state of mind where you’re completely absorbed in your work and filled with joy?

When I typed “working in flow” into my Pinterest search bar the other day I found a plethora of yoga flow articles.

Not exactly what I was looking for.

Don’t get me wrong—I’ve had some pretty joyful moments in child’s pose or corpse pose at the end of a hardcore hour or so of vinyasa yoga. But I was delighted because the workout was over and no one had to pull me out of a camel pose and I didn’t fart during a triangle pose. I don’t think this level of gratefulness qualifies as “flow.”

What I’m talking about is what Julie Shrum, entrepreneur and crafter extraordinaire, shared back when I interviewed her for this article.

Julie stated, “Some people get runners’ high; I get crafters’ high.”

When I asked her what that looked like, she said, “When I’m working on craft projects, I’ll forget to eat, I’ll stay up later—like hours at a time—and not realize it.”

Essentially, for her, time becomes non-existent.

“It’s like total focus when I creating,” she said. “Blinders on and complete focus. I won’t hear text message pings. When roommates would knock on my door, I wouldn’t even hear them.”

That, to me, is “flow.” Complete absorption in a task that brings fulfillment. Joy.

I saw a graphic on Pinterest that provided a simple summary of this state. Basically it said that a small challenge coupled with a low skill set led to nothing more than apathy. This must be why I hate data entry. It’s tedious, and I don’t really get the point.

Small challenges presented to a person with a high skill set lead to boredom. I’ve read articles about how difficult it is for women in high-powered, fast-paced careers to become stay-at-home-moms. This boredom leads to guilt which leads to a host of other emotional strains.

Difficult challenges presented to people with low skill sets obviously lead to anxiety. When I try to enter data on charts I really don’t understand, I get nervous.

However, sizable challenges presented to creatives with a commiserate skill set leads to flow. For Julie, stringent deadlines and difficult craft requests don’t seem to be an issue.

“I get so entranced in what I’m doing,” she said. “I’m totally relaxed, and I can focus on nothing else. The first summer I got my Silhouette Cameo to cut vinyl, I wasn’t even hungry. I would forget to eat.” How do you find YOUR flow?

When writing ideas come, I can write for hours and don’t realize time has even passed. I wrote an entire manuscript in a week a few years back. Once it “downloaded” from the ethers or the Muse, where I imagine that all creativity begins, I didn’t want to stop the flow. I loved the process, and I was overjoyed to see the product finished.

In her article entitled “Five Ways to Achieve Flow” on the Website verywell.com, Kendra Cherry writes that “flow is often described as a mental state in which people experience complete immersion and involvement in an activity. Things seem to happen almost effortlessly, an d time seems to disappear while in this state.”

Cherry quotes artist Paul Klee who says that, “Everything vanishes around me, and works are born as if out of the void…Ripe, graphic fruits fall off. My hand has become the obedient instrument of a remote will.”

Like the graphic I found on Pinterest, Cherry notes that your skills need to be matched to the task. She also says that reaching for a challenge and trying something that stretches your present skill level can lead to a flow state.

Goal-setting is another important facet of flow. Deadlines force me into that state as does creating something funny for an audience. Julie’s business demands can also put her in that state. Avoiding interruptions is also vital—those of us with kids know how tough that can be. It’s tough to achieve flow when mediating arguments, refilling endless water bottles, and mopping up bodily fluids. It’s not impossible, though, if you remember to stay grounded in the present moment, and not fixate on the end result.

Julie sums up the flow state when she says, “All my energy is poured into the enjoyment of being creative.”

 

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12 thoughts on “Finding the “Flow” in Your Work

  • April 22, 2017 at 3:30 pm
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    I used to be able to get into flow like that . . . before I knew I experienced Bipolar II disorder and started getting treated for it. The writing just came rushing out.

    I’m finally starting to get it back. However, there are some legitimate life things which get in the way of my flow . . . like not always having access to optimal tools (a computer), physical health issues, and single parenting a child experiencing autism.

    That being said, I discovered a social writing app about three weeks ago and started getting back in touch with my creative writing side. I’ve written about 20 poems, including haiku this week! I also tried my hand at flash fiction, something I’ve never done or imagined I could do. I’ve gotten some great feedback and several people want to know what happens next.

    Anyway, great article.

    Reply
    • April 22, 2017 at 5:07 pm
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      That’s amazing to hear! Writing itself really helps boost my mood and get me into that zone! Thanks for stopping by!!

      Reply
  • April 22, 2017 at 7:08 pm
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    I am totally in the flow when it comes to our business but home is a different story. I really need to get in the flow, made goals and stick with them when it comes to re-organizing. That is my biggest downfall but reading your blog is a big help to get me on track. Thanks Jennifer!

    Reply
    • April 25, 2017 at 1:42 am
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      YAY! I can’t tell you how happy that makes me feel to hear that! Don’t feel bad–I can’t organize my house either! HA!

      Reply
  • April 23, 2017 at 7:26 am
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    I have an issue (procrastinating) before i start doing my work, but once i seat down i put my phone in airplane mode, close the door behind me and then everything can be done easier. Helene/
    // Beautiful Is My Attire

    Reply
    • April 25, 2017 at 1:43 am
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      I am terrible about procrastinating. I have a little focusing problem, and my phone is my biggest distraction! UGH! Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
  • April 23, 2017 at 2:27 pm
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    These are some great tips & will keep them in mind for when I have my difficulties to start an assignment for Uni!
    Lea, xx
    asnippetoflife.com

    Reply
    • April 25, 2017 at 1:44 am
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      Doing schoolwork is the hardest! UGH! Hang in there! Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
  • April 25, 2017 at 12:22 am
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    Great post! i really enjoyed reading this.

    Reply
    • April 25, 2017 at 1:39 am
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      Thanks so much! So glad you stopped by!

      Reply
  • April 26, 2017 at 11:58 am
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    Great post, I just realized that writing gets me in the flow 🙂 thanks for sharing

    Reply
    • April 27, 2017 at 10:30 am
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      Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply

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