There’s a beautiful Sanskrit work – Samadhi OR समाधि – which roughly translates as a state of oneness, or complete absorption. How often do you experience such a feeling when you write? You know… that golden moment when you get entirely lost in your own words, and the page fills up effortlessly.
The great challenge for us, soulful scribes, is that, all too often, the state of Samadhi alludes us. Our minds swirl with a million thoughts, but little direction. We begin to feel overwhelmed, stressed, and irritatingly under-productive!
This mysterious state in which everything comes together can also be called our FLOW STATE – as defined by Hungarian-American psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi. He coined the term, when trying to get to grips with the roots of human happiness. He interviewed many creatives, and discovered that they shared the experience of becoming attuned to their work, in a highly productive and pleasurable way. He described that FLOW as when your “sense of time disappears, you forget yourself, you feel part of something larger.”
So, how can we open the door to this blissful state, for stress-free productivity?
Productivity is less about what you do with your time,
and more about how you run your mind.
1.The Magical Number 7
Are you struggling with a busy brain? Cognitive psychologist George A. Miller got serious about investigating how many things we can hold in our short-term memory at any given moment, way back in the 1950s. His research led him to conclude that the magical number was SEVEN (7), give or talk a couple of thoughts.
If we imagine our task as writers – to craft and compile ideas, drawing from many different mental sources – it’s clear, that our calling requires all the memory we can muster. Just like a smartphone that’s trying to run more apps than it’s RAM can handle, if our minds are too full of nagging, swirling thoughts, we aren’t going to be able to get things done!
2. Master Parking Your Ideas
Productivity consultant and author, David Allen, said that we need to learn to park our ideas. He advised that we capture anything that’s pulling on our psyche… and write it down.
Take a moment – right here and now – tune into what’s whizzing around in your mind?
What’s pulling your attention away from the task at hand?
Allen recommends not only writing these things down, but defining each one with a tangible required action and desired outcome. With clear definitions in place, you can map out a plan, and choose when you’re going to tackle each niggling task. Allen explains that by getting these attention stealers UP and OUT of our minds, we can put them away, and rediscover enough psychic bandwidth to find our flow. 😀
3. Get Organized, So You Can Create A Mess
Allen points out that life is messy, and creativity is gloriously messy too. The key, he says, is to get organized, so that we have space to make A BIG, BEAUTIFUL, CREATIVE MESS. 😂😂 Just as you can’t cook a seven course meal in a cluttered, dirty kitchen, you can’t create a literary masterpiece if your desk – or your mind – is a big pile of chaos. Allen says that when it comes to stress-free productivity, we should seek flexibility, rather than perfection. We need space to think and to react freely as fantastic ideas present themselves from our own creative depths.
4. Direct Your Distractions
How often do you get sucked down a Facebook/or Twitter/Email wormhole while the cursor blinks tragically on the screen? We all tend to wrestle with distractions…
The good news is that distraction is not enough to quell your creative capacity!
During his Ted Talk, Allen drew a laugh from the crowd by pointing out that while prolific Baroque composer Johan Sebastian Bach didn’t have email to steal his attention, he did have twenty (20) kids!🙀
In all truth… sometimes distraction is a disaster, but sometimes a little of it can actually help us leap forward.
Ask yourself if – when you check your Instagram for the 10th time today – the momentary lapse of engagement is being driven by NOT tackling something you need to, or taking a break so you can mentally RESET. If the first is true, then you need to jump back up to Allen’s parking your ideas concept, and nix your need to procrastinate. If it’s the second, try acknowledging the role that a light-entertainment break is playing, and give it some structure. That could mean allowing yourself a strict 2 minutes to get up and walk around the room, or even check your social media, every time your flow stalls. Counter-intuitively, this might be just the ticket to let you tap right back into SAMADHI 😜!
5. Don’t Hit The Break And The Accelerator At The Same Time
I’ll leave you with a divine little tip from Mary Jaksch, Chief Editor of Write to Done. When interviewed by Sharon Crosby for The Creative Copywriter, she dropped a diamond insight for when we need to get our words out. She explained that we must separate the actions of CREATION and EDITING. Fascinatingly, these 2 actions call on different areas of the brain. She points out:
“This is like being in a car and stepping on the accelerator and the brake at the same time.
You won’t get anywhere fast!”
So there you have it! For stress-free productivity:
- flow or Samadhi as a writer
- clear out your psychic bandwidth
- direct your distractions
- handle one task at a time…
- and make a big creative mess!
I don’t know about you, but that sure does sound like writers bliss to me!
Written by Jemima
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