056 The 5 Minute Flow State

The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times… The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Through small bits of observations, I’ve come up to a conclusion of a really profitable technique that needs just five minutes of extremely focused work, that pay off huge dividends in return right after those first five minutes. I call it the “5 Minute Flow State”.

Very simply, the 5 Minute Flow State is a method for creative work which needs your first five minutes on doing the job to be very intensely focused and great, and that will make the rest of your time on the work inevitably in the “Flow State”.

A flow state is a passively intense state of mind where you have an extreme sense of clarity and you know exactly what you want to do. For a writer in the flow state, the hands type out words almost non-consciously. The guitarist is able to strum new beats on the guitar without any resistance. The composer easily gets new verses for his song. And every human in the flow state experiences a passive clarity of mind, at the same time of doing some intense thinking.

Obviously, there are countless theoretical practices on how to get into the “Flow State” while doing anything that requires creative thinking, like listening to the right music, staying hydrated, eliminating all distractions, and obviously doing the thing you love. But apart from those, I’ve discovered that you just need five minutes of passionate indulgence with the creative work/thinking which gets you into a very productive flow state, that almost invariably works if something serious doesn’t then distract you.

So this is how it works: You sit in your favorite “creative place” (or any place really, this method doesn’t need you to sit in your favorite spot for it to work). Then you make sure that you won’t be distracted for the next five minutes. No notifications, emails, anything. And then you get to work. Try to make your first five minutes the best five minutes of your entire sitting, deliberately. Make it intense. An intensive feeling to work is always a good one. It just makes you feel great. And then when the five minutes are over, you don’t have to stop. You don’t even have to time your five minutes. You’ll observe almost without any conscious thought that you’ve gotten into a state of mind where you feel as though you know exactly what you want to do next. The Flow State.

It just requires five minutes. And those five minutes which your brain needs to process the change in mental environment are necessary to lay the ground work for the rest of the time you spend on that chair. I almost always find myself to have done good creative work when the first five minutes go well and I get myself into a flow state which allows me to do better stuff. But when I don’t have those good first five minutes, then the rest of the time really doesn’t go well, and it feels more of a forceful burden than unintentional intensely focused creative work.

Make the first five minutes so good that- that “good” stays for the rest of your creative working time.

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