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Increasing Organization & Productivity

August 17, 2017

Finding Flow

By: Sarah McCarren, RN MSN, CPNP

"Silence is the sleep that nourishes wisdom."
— Sir Francis Bacon.

The power of positive thinking and awareness of our mental state plays a crucial role in creating a happy environment for you and your brain to reside harmoniously. Positive psychology is the study of how humans flourish. This area of study has taken leaps and bounds in the last two decades due in part to its strong results.

Finding flow and living mindfully are two concepts that have gained scientific traction. Both are highly focused on mental states that depend upon holding your mind in the present moment.

Finding flow was introduced by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in his book Finding FlowThe Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life. He describes flow as intense concentration where you lose yourself and your sense of time. This "effortless" concentration often results in excellence, productivity, and bliss. Encountering regular flow reduces apathy, boredom, and anxiety.

Mindfulness is a practice of positive psychology evolved from ancient forms of meditation. Jon Kabat Zin defines mindfulness as: "the awareness that arises through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, nonjudgmentally."

The eight steps to improve productivity and bliss are intended to guide you toward finding flow and living mindfully.

1. Quiet your mind.

Develop a practice of mindfulness or prayer that allows your mind to relax, focus, and remain nonjudgmental. Let go of past or future thoughts and focus on one thing in the present moment.

2. Create one concise goal.

Write down one goal that encompasses the following:

  • Meaningful and/or novel
  • Allows immediate feedback
  • Has a predictable response
  • Moderately challenging but doable

3. Breakdown the goal into a daily checklist.

It is probably overwhelming to create a comprehensive checklist. Try instead to choose no more than three tasks per day and put them in order of importance. Remember to consider ranking a dreaded task higher to reduce anxiety and stress.

4. Create an organized and inviting workspace.

  • Post your goal
  • Put a clip on the wall to keep your checklist
  • Position yourself at a workspace, preferably at a desk or table
  • Compile all necessary resources. Consider examples, articles, web sites, rubrics, notes, professional referrals or mentors
  • Compile all necessary supplies
  • Make sure you have healthy lighting
  • Consider an aroma that reminds you to focus - try essential oils

5. Eliminate all distractions.

  • All electronics should be silenced and put away unless you are using it to accomplish your task. Do not allow yourself to check other sites, emails, or social media while on the clock
  • If extraneous sound distracts you, try music without lyrics
  • Let people know that you are working to avoid unnecessary interruptions

6. Think positive.

Clear your mind of extraneous thoughts - let go of negative thinking. 

7. Set a timer for 15-25 minutes.

If you find yourself off task, start the timer over. Some people find flow easily and work for 25 minutes whereas most of us must develop the skill over time.

8. Reward yourself. 

Stretch, eat a small candy, drink something healthy, or take a short walk. Clear your mind of non-essential thoughts and set the timer again. If you are working for long periods of time, reward yourself with longer breaks every hour.

Every person finds flow and experiences mindfulness differently. The 8 steps are suggestions to enhance productivity and organization. Each person should adapt the steps according to their individual needs and style. Committing yourself to a regular practice of staying in the present moment will yield improved well-being. Living mindfully has a myriad of benefits that I encourage you to explore.

Namaste.

For further information on finding flow, check out this video review of the book, "Flow", by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

For further information on mindfulness, check out this video on "9 Attitudes", by Jon Kabat Zin.




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