The Intro #53: The flip side of flow

November 19, 2020
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Let’s talk for a minute about the hustle.

You know the feeling: Head down, eyes on the prize, in the zone, getting stuff done.

Designers, developers, writers, and creatives call this experience flow state, and in the best circumstances, it is an absolute gift. Countless experts have written about how to hack your flow state — how to get there and stay there, even when you aren’t “feeling it.” They’re right to want to cultivate this experience. Some of our very best work has come from moments of flow.

But, of course, any good thing has a flip side.

And in our experience, the flip slide of flow is workaholism.

When we get too in the zone and too focused, we lose sight of everything around us — including things that are arguably more important than the work itself (our family, for example, or remembering to eat).

In this very busy, very stressful Q4 season, we’re focused on flipping that switch back and forth.

First, ditch all the distractions and find extended, focused times for creative work. Turn off Slack notifications, close the door, tell your team you’re going dark for a few hours, convince your partner to take the kids on a (very long) walk. Get into your flow state and let the good work come.

Then, just as importantly, ditch the work. Pull your eyes back up. Pay attention to the very real, very tangible life all around you. Shut down your computer, go on your own walk, do something that requires zero thought. Have fun.

This both/and is one of our greatest challenges — but now more than ever, we’re fighting for it. And we invite you to do the same.

Allison Kooser

Allison is Chief Storyteller at Swell+Good, where she partners with amazing organizations to help them bring their stories to life. She is an avid traveler, an expert takeout orderer, and a big believer in curiosity and kindness. She tries to learn something new every day, and she reads, writes, and paddleboards more than the average human.
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