Have you ever had an "Aha!" moment after reading an insightful article that explains something that you've long experienced but weren't exactly sure whether it was a "real" thing and a known phenomena? I recently had this kind of moment after reading couple of articles about one's "creative flow" at Steve Pavlina weblog and I thought: man this stuff is so dead on, I gotta share it with everybody! But here's the kicker: I'm going to put my own visual illustration twist on this subject and give you a nice, concise and memorable step-by-step guide to relive your creative moments based on Steve's brilliant 7 Rules for Maximizing Your Creative Output. Reliving your creative moments isn't just for the fun of it, it will help you get your creative fluid juices running again which will let you tap into your creative potential to create awesome works of art in whatever it is you do professionally.
Turns out this phenomena we're talking about, one's creative flow, or simply the "flow", is a long-known one studied and proposed by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. The Wikipedia's entry on this subject states that the:
Flow is the mental state of operation in which the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing, characterized by a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity.
Rings any bells? I bet everyone of us has experienced all or some of these symptoms at some point in time. I know I did. At my previous job, I used to diss off people who'd interrupt me during peak working hours for trivial matters. I got a reputation for being cranky or having "the bad day", but really what it was is just me trying to keep the pace of my flow going in order to fix that nasty bug or roll out that long overdue feature. But now I know better, because with these rules, I know exactly how to initiate and maintain a creative and productive working session. So let's explore these rules in details, shall we?
Because maintaining a steady flow of creative ideas requires complete focus on your goal and ultimate objective, you will need to take care of the following 3 things first:
Some people have a habit of drifting out of their real goal when they follow their natural progression of ideas. You know what I'm talking about: you're trying to do something and it leads to something else seemingly related, and before you know it you're tackling a whole different problem than the one you set out to do. While this is clearly a prospect for innovation, when your creative energy is shattered among several different problems, it quickly wears you out and you end up achieving none, or at least not the one you were meant to achieve. This is why you need to consider the following 3 points which will help you "tunnel" your creative ideas into something productive and worthwhile:
Achieving flow is a fine balance from feeling bored to feeling overwhelmed.
That's it! If you have all those elements (preparation + scope) figured out and accounted for, then you're ready to start. It will normally take you 15 minutes to begin to enter the flow state. Within 45-60 minutes, you'll be riding the waves of your creativity! But then again, it all depends on you and the nature of your task. Save and use the following figure to help remind you of the stuff we talked about today. Wish you all the best!