You get back from work. The computer is waiting for you. But you’re tired. You’re wondering what to do.
Should I watch another episode on Netflix?
Or maybe I will spend a few next hours watching useless videos on Youtube?
Or Should I just lie down on the bed and sleep?
Answer YES to any of those above is OK. Unless you spend all of your time like this. This doesn’t lead to anything meaningful and productive.
Relax is important but it is not all life is about. It’s about constantly moving towards the place you want to be. Towards your goals. It’s a good idea to invest some of your time towards something productive daily.
And you might answer: Michael, it’s not about constantly chasing success until you die.
Yeah. That’s true. But what would happen if this work would be satisfying for you and giving you energy instead of draining it?
It’s possible. Believe me. I experience this. So does all of the people who are in peak performance. It is called a flow. You feel 10X times better than when relaxing.
So why if this is so great so few people pursue it and it’s not spread knowledge? It is difficult. Moreover, mainstream media wants you to stay as stupid as possible.
But I will help you get through it easily.
So… how to achieve flow?
Follow me in this article and I will show you how to maximize your potential to feel this most of the time.
Actually we are in this together. Let’s begin!
Step 1: Set a Vision for Your Life
First, define what is your vision of life. It needs to be something great. Think about your best future.
It’s important because life gets in the way. The problems will appear. And you need to be on top of that. And declaring a strong vision for your life is the first step towards it.
You should have goals for your relationship, taking care of your body, your hobby, spiritual/mind development, and professional development.
“I want to be a strong person, that everybody can rely on in hard times.
I want to weigh 75 kg with 12% Bodyfat.
I want to have an amazing relationship with my wife.
I want to be an Entrepreneur, working on my Small Business in X industry, doing Y.”
Think of yourself, and your typical day in the future in detail. Where do you work? How are you spending time? What other people could tell about you?
Have it written in a place where you can see it often. It can be Evernote, google docs or just a regular notebook. I read my vision every day in the morning and I strongly recommend doing the same for you.
Walking towards your vision gives you meaning. You’re moving towards something great, your ideał future. Your brain acknowledges this and gives you a dopamine boost. And it transforms your merely daily tasks (like laying a brick) into a small step towards something great (like a small part of a great building).
Step 2: Create a Strategy
You need more than just a vision. You need a constrained plan to work towards your vision. Which connects the higher vision with your day to day activities. It is the strategy. Write down what you want to have accomplished for the next 3 months.
You need clear mission objectives. It will make you laser-focused.
We are easily distracted by all things around us. That’s why it is crucial to make the necessary effort to stay within boundaries in the journey towards your goals.
Also, you need to declare how you are going to keep yourself accountable and crystal clear with your progress towards your goal.
Example 1: Writing 6 articles in blog posts. “I will have a list of articles and cross off whenever I complete each of them.”
Example 2: Gaining 2 kgs of muscle in the next 3 months. “I will weigh myself every 3 days, write down the number in my notebook. Also, I will use an app to track my calories and I will make sure I eat 3000 calories with X:Y:Z proportions of macronutrients.”
I advise you to read it daily as well – after reading the vision.
Step 3: Define Your Daily activities
Then you can focus on a day. On your routines. You can see here a great guide on how to be great at creating good habits.
Look at your strategy. Which activities do you need to do daily to accomplish your goals?
Is it writing 6 blog posts for 3 months? Then a daily habit would be for example writing for 30 minutes every other day.
Then maybe you also need to edit it and publish it. So that would be the next habits to include.
Keep yourself accountable by using a habit tracker or a simple printed table with your habits where you put X when you perform habit that day.
Step 4: Set Up Your Work Environment
Then arrange your workplace the way it suits your needs. Make it your ally. Prepare your environment to win from the moment you sit by the desk.
- Put the music on. The one you like the most. I like to do some playlist for work on Spotify. You can use whatever app you like.
- Prepare some tea or coffee. Or whatever you like to drink.
- Put the right light on.
- Clean up your desk. It will help you clarify your thought and remove distractions
- Remove distractions from your computer. Help yourself be more disciplined by using technology.
- You can use chrome extensions to block Facebook or Youtube, for example. Use an app, such as gofuckingwork to block any website.
- You can even use some gadgets to make your work more entertaining. Example of mine: A cup with Vegeta or a Diffpah’s Pen. Use the advantage of every work environment you can.
Step 5: Change Your Mindset
To fully embrace the advantage of work you can also adjust your mindset. Embrace the person you want to become. If you want to write a book, then think of yourself as a writer.
Embrace also the mindset of a person who can focus on what is important to them. And cannot be moved. Feel the power of moving towards the person you want to be, and your dream life.
Feel that you’re going forward for what you want. Be aggressive in that. And I don’t mean run with fists ready to fight. I want you to be proactive and engaged. I want you to go for what you want, You are the person who acts on what is important to them. You are transforming the chaos of potential into the reality of order.
You’re making something great. Regardless of what it is. It might seem small or insignificant. But that does not matter. Everybody needs to start somewhere. And the effects of compound interest of constant work will move you towards the place you cannot imagine.
Feel like you’re fighting your dragons which protects the gold you are seeking. Then you can treat this as a game. And you will be thrilled and interested to work. To see what happens. And whether or not you’re skilled and brave enough to fight and conquer your challenges (Dragons).
Also, make it a game. Working can be fun. And you should make an effort to make it as fun as possible. It will not drain energy from you that way. Actually, in reverse, it will boost your energy.
As children, we were playing a lot. And in adult life, it also remains the same. It can also be exciting.
Step 6: Make Your Work More Flow-Friendly
To achieve flow you can work on these factors to increase the probability of entering the flow.
1. Risk – try to take emotional, creative risks. Afraid of what others might think? That’s a good point to start. Do things that are outside of your comfort zone. Just remember to still align it with your goals and do something useful.
2. Unpredictability – try something new. Have you been doing the same task over and over again? Maybe it’s time to twist it a little bit? Do something that is outside your realm of routine.
3. Novelty – go to the place you haven’t been to. Go to the new coffee shop. Boring tasks will become more interesting. For example, reading a book can be more exciting even if you sit in other places than usual.
4. Complexity – try challenging tasks. Make raising the bar your habit. Constantly push yourself.
5. Pattern Recognition – start with an easier task similar to this. Do you need to write something? Start from editing a previous draft. Then you can move to writing filled with energy.
Step 7: Use Great Work Techniques
Make sure you break down your big tasks into smaller ones. Put them in one place. I personally use the System based on Getting Things Done by David Allen. It is very convenient for me. But use whatever you like. The most crucial thing is to have it broken down into smaller tasks and make them obvious.
The greatest barrier to doing besides the temptation of distractions is hesitation. Lack of clarity.What you should be working on and how.
The biggest work hack for me to overcoming these barriers is using Work cycles with Pomodoro.
I use Work cycles to make it crystal clear and to focus on one thing at a time. Pomodoro also is very helpful to me. Here’s how my system looks like:
Work Cycles is a system in google sheets that allows you to keep track of what you’re doing during the day. You start by defining what you need to do, then you set time for starting the task. You have 25/30 minutes for completing it and 5/10 minutes for break and review. Adjust it to your needs.
I work for 30 minutes, then I have a break for 10 minutes. These proportions work best for me. I can do whatever I want during this time to recharge energy. It might be a call to a friend, washing dishes, walking, making a tea. Choose whatever works for you. Just stop working. I personally like 10 minutes but it is up to you. Just test it. It is based on the Pomodoro Technique.
I use an app called Focus Keeper on my phone for tracking my work/rest period. But you can use whatever you find useful on the internet. It can be also the usual timer you have on your phone
It looks like this:
Work Cycles gives me clarity on what I am working on and also it gives me immediate feedback on where am I going.
Benefits of using this instead of blindly working:
- I got clear clarity on what I should be working on. It helps me focus on 1 thing
- It helps me removes distractions. Whenever I feel distracted I place the thing that disrupts me in a label “Any Distractions?”
- It makes me accountable to work as hard as I can
- I can clearly see where I can improve
- It makes my work exciting.
All of these above results in getting much more done in less amount of time
If this overwhelms you then you can use just Pomodoro which is focusing on 1 thing for 25 minutes and then resting for 5 minutes without writing anything down.
What shall I be working on?
You might be asking: what shall I put my efforts in?
There are a lot of options depending on what your vision is and what is your priority.
Work on your “projects’. It’s the same as goals but when you hear projects you take it more seriously. And you know you need time for it, the budget and you need to allocate tasks to it. It won’t be done by itself.
Have you experiences joy and satisfaction after completing a project in the past? Maybe at University? Feel it now. Wouldn’t you like to relive this again? I think it’s worth it. Think about what makes you engaged and satisfied.
Here’s a couple of examples of projects:
Learn a new language that would come handy.
Start a side gig.
Learn to play an instrument.
Improve your skills for work.
You can even do some home project.
Just invest in something.
And make sure you align your projects with your Vision, Strategy and Habits.
Relax feels the best when it’s earned. Just like you get back from the gym after the hard workout and you lie down on the bed feeling like you have won. It’s priceless. It wouldn’t feel that great if you just skipped this workout and lied on the bed instead.
The same happens with work. Just test it. How would you feel if you made that commitment to give more from yourself?
Test yourself. What is the limit of your work. You can only find this out by pushing yourself to your limit. And then you can back off a little bit. Because if you want to keep functioning on the highest level, you need a long term strategy. So you need to prevent burnout.
Schedule relax for yourself. Time off is very important. Put it into your calendar. Find the right balance between work and relaxation. you also need to recharge your batteries to give everything you’ve got when it is time to work! So don’t skip this step.
DIffpath v typical path
- Inner peace
- Huge effects over time
- Moving towards your goals
- Enjoying fully relax because it was earned
- Feeling unsatisfied
- Wasting time on something that does not even makes us happy
- Low quality relax
What can you do now?
Ok, now you know all of these tips.
Write down your vision. And then adjust your work environment accordingly.
Experiment with your work tools. And do not stop exploring.
Work can be fun and exciting. Just do not stop looking for this childish excitement!