We’re taking a closer look at the flow state this month. Last week, we shared an introduction to the concept and the work of our favorite Hungarian psychology professor, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. This week, we’re sharing simple ways to get into the flow in your daily life.
While we love being in the flow state—and while we’re designing brands to help you slow down, be present, and get into the flow—we know it’s not always so easy in a fast-moving world. We’re often stuck thinking about the next thing. Plus, who has time to get to this elusive level of mastery we so often hear about?
Here’s the good news: You don’t need two hours for ballet training or access to a climbing partner and multi-pitch every day. Sure, that would be nice. But we can be real. Doing what you love is privilege. Learning to love what you do is wisdom.
We’re all about finding chances for flow in our daily routines. Activities that don’t take much time. Activities we kind of need to do anyway. These are all chances to find moments of flow. Here’s a few ideas to get you started.
It’s convenient to hit a switch to brew our coffee or stop for a cup on the way to work. There’s nothing wrong with that and we do it all the time. But we’ve noticed going analog offers a chance to slow down, save a bit of money, and appreciate some spaciousness in the morning.
Grinding the beans, pouring the water, and taking it all in requires close attention. Plus, the results are delicious. Use all your senses. Hear the water coming to a boil. Feel the texture of the grind and the warmth of the mug. We don’t need to tell you to smell the coffee.
You’ve probably heard this one before. Getting in sync with your breathing and steps has even been shown to boost creativity. Not much can beat the runner’s high.
We also know that the voices of a podcast can help us get out the door in the lonely chill of the morning. So, here’s a trick—start out with the earbuds in and on, and then when you get into the rhythm of the run or the walk, just hit pause. You don’t even need to take them out. Then simply go with your own flow.
Try time-blocking focused worktime in your day and investing significant mental energy into what you’re doing. Think of your worktime as practicing the skills that make up your job and getting better along the way, through repetition. It’ll relieve the pressure of perfectionism and make work more fun.
Take note from Tolstoy—one thing at a time. Then, take a break and don’t think about it. As an added bonus, you might find you have all the answers when you come back.
Finding a chance for flow during cooking was one of the early inspirations behind Pattern. It has a soft spot in our collective heart.
Here’s one way to lower the barrier to feel-good cooking. Try putting together a meal where some elements are prepared and some you make yourself. Say you hit the market for a soup and some nice bread, but then you construct the sandwich and toast it at home. It’s a very French way to think about making dinner—très chic.
Have you ever unpacked you closet in a moment of frustration, looked down at everything on the floor—and then the next time you looked at the clock hours had gone by and the weight had lifted from your shoulders? Cleaning and organizing are natural and productive ways to get into the flow state. Draw the curtains and just get started.
Our newest brand is called Open Spaces. With the launch, we’ve released a resource called the Open Spaces way. You’ll find guidance, audio organizations, worksheets, illustrations, and much more, here.
When it comes down to it, the less distracted you are, the easier it is to experience flow. That starts with your intentions, but it also comes from limiting the number of decisions you’re making. That’s why routines make it easier to get there.
Know that some of this might feel unnatural to try at first, but it’ll get easier with time and practice, especially if you can keep everything around the activity the same.
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