Getting Into Creative Flow
Have your ever lost yourself in your work, so much so that you lost track of time? Being consumed by a task like that, while it can be rare for most people, is a state of being called Flow.
In my experience, it’s one of the keys to happiness at work.
And a nice side benefit is that it not only reduces stress but increases your productivity.
Not bad, huh?
When your creativity flows and you lose track of time – ideas and images flow feverishly from your brain to your fingers.
The term emulates water flowing as your ideas are born.
When you’re in flow, your emotions are not just contained and channeled, but they are positive, energized, and aligned with the task at hand.
Maya Angelou said “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”
And thankfully this is true.
What about those times when you’re struggling to find your creative flow?
You know the feeling.
There’s a deadline looming, and your mind has gone completely blank.
Nothing, nada. It’s like your brain has frozen.
Luckily the latest research shows us the most common roadblocks to creativity, and how to move past them and get on with the job.
So, let’s look at some of them.
Fear of failure
Most people are afraid of failing because they see it as a one-way street to disaster, rejection, and a stain on their reputation forever.
The truth is, fear of failure is the mirror image of perfectionism.
It’s the idea that nothing you can do will be good enough, and that this failure defines your identity.
Fear of failure means you’re less likely to take risks, and you put off even starting.
And those are two things that can kill creativity stone dead.
Redefine creativity as a series of experiments, with failure as a kind of course-correction and an inevitable part of the process.
There’s not enough time
The ticking clock is another creativity killer.
If you’re like most people, your schedule is probably crammed, and you feel like you’ll never catch up.
If your checklist just keeps growing, you won’t be able to relax in the creative process and let the ideas flow.
A surprising way to find more time is to quarantine some chillout time in your calendar.
Prioritize some downtime to listen to music, meditate, or just sit quietly.
You’ll feel much less stressed and open to the creative flow.
You’re still staring at the screen
Sitting at your desk, staring at the computer or the blank page is not a good way to get creative.
If you’ve been trying to write or problem-solve and it’s just not happening, the best thing you can do is go for a walk or make a cup of coffee.
Get out of the environment that’s keeping you stuck, get moving, and your mental gears can disengage and relax enough to be ready when inspiration strikes.
You’re feeling negative
Negative thinking can stop creativity in its track.
If you’re sitting there frowning and thinking you can’t do it, you’re pretty much guaranteeing that you won’t be able to do it.
Pessimism and negative self-talk set up a vicious cycle of gloom and low energy.
Reject that self-defeating attitude and give yourself a pep talk.
Reframe your task and just promise yourself you’ll write down whatever comes into your head, just to get the process started.
Remember, first drafts are invariably not your best product, because that’s what a first draft is for!
You’ve done good work before, and you’ll do it again.
Tell your mind you’re ready and get writing!
Here are just a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing.
1 – Make a to-do list before you start
Clear your mind of any tasks that need to be completed by writing them down and not thinking about them while you are focusing.
They will be waiting for you when you have time for them and if anything else pops into your mind, jot it down and return to your project.
2 – Focus on your goal
As Star Wars taught us, “Always remember, your focus determines your reality.”
It’s true. Focus is the most important determination of whether you’ll achieve a goal or stick to a new habit.
If you can’t maintain your focus, you won’t achieve the goal, unless it’s such an easy goal that it would have happened anyway.
It’s that simple.”
3 – Use Pinterest to find some visual stimulation
On Pinterest, you’ll find lots of things that can spark your imagination.
I also sometimes post things that I love to Pinterest that I might use for later work projects.
4 – Turn off the notifications, phone and all the digital distractions
You will not miss anything.
Or it will be waiting when you get to it. Seriously!
5 – Don’t expect perfection on the first take
Keep creating and allow yourself to get into the flow of your work.
If you stop and edit frequently while you are writing your brain switches from left to right side thinking and you can break your own creative flow.
6 – Hit a creative wall? Get some fresh air
Taking a walk when you hit a stopping point is a great way to reinvigorate yourself.
Your brain uses 20% of your body’s oxygen intake at any given time.
Refuel it with some fresh oxygen, even if you just walk around your office or go get a glass of water.
Stretch, breath and, then refocus!
Keep creating even if and when it’s hard.
Keep learning, keep doing and most of all keep experiencing things from your place of skill, interest and curiosity.
The most important part of getting into creative flow is the enjoyment of the activity.
Remember your love of creation, and don’t stress about the end results.
Seek out that which thrills you, for alone or in a group this is where the magic truly exists.
You will probably come to find that you created something better than you initially intended to.
Now I’d love to hear from you.
Did anything I talked about today resonate with you?
Do you sometimes find it hard to get into that creative flow state?
What kinds of things help you to get moving when that happens?
Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
I would love to hear your stories.
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