Getting Into Your Flow
Music might be just what you need to fully immerse yourself in what you’re doing.
Imagine the moment when you drop into a steep slope of fresh snow. The sun is shining, your energy level is up, the sound of the snow spray is exhilarating.
Before you know it, you’re at the bottom and all you want to do is to go back up and do it again and again. This is getting into your flow: The feeling of total immersion in what you’re doing.
“… an optimal state of consciousness, where we feel our best and perform our best.”Mihály Csíkszentmihályi
Make your work… flow
I always wondered how to recreate this joyful state of mind in my everyday work with deadlines, PowerPoint marathons and open office space madness all around. I tried different approaches spanning several months – from days doing home office to using noise cancelling headphones.
During that time, I learned that the following components helped me in getting closer to the state of mind I was chasing:
- Pick an environment that supports complete concentration
- Make sure you are 100% clear on what you want to achieve during the given time
- Prepare yourself with all materials you need and make sure the challenge and skillset are in balance
- Give yourself a clear timing for your session and make sure to keep to it
- Reward success
Sure, these steps already helped me to complete selected tasks more effectively and with more joy. But that wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to feel the goosebumps you have when you drop into that slope. I wanted the flow.
Around the same time, I’d also started learning how to produce my own electronic music. This experiment helped me to understand the structure of music in more depth and breadth, getting a good grasp on how musical elements can support certain moods, trigger certain behaviors or lead to specific states.
I started applying what I’d learned by adding the layer of music to my personal flow ‘test scenarios’ and soon realized that even the same type of music can affect a flow experience in very different directions.
I dug deeper and found research that showed how music can be a supportive factor to get into the flow. I was definitely heading in the right direction.
Work the beat of the drum
Combining the rules of getting into the flow and the latest learnings on music structure and effects, I challenged myself to create the perfect playlist, mix and record it and to then finally dive into the highly effective ‘goose bump’ work session I was chasing after.
As I function best in 80 – 90 minute slots of high concentration, I split the playlist into chunks with different characteristics such as bpm, base melody, variability or basic mood to cross-test different arrangements. Over the working session I marked which tracks gave me the highest flow experience in the very moment.
I narrowed down the playlist considering the following influences:
- A slow but steady progression in bpm to subconsciously increase pressure
- A progressive change of mood to lure myself into the work rabbit hole
- A reduction of elements throughout the mix to minimize distraction
I got what I was looking for. My very personal goose bump moment was created and can now be re-created over and over again.