I know what you're wondering. No, this isn't a sequel to Finding Nemo. This is about a mental state that any individual can find him/herself in, Flow.
Flow often occurs when you're learning something for the first time, such as playing piano, strumming a guitar or riding a bicycle. But it's not just that. It's way more.
I recently started measuring my productivity and levels of concentration with strategic learning.
The first thing I did was work/study for 50 minutes and then break for 10 minutes. The break could consist of YouTube, music, Facebook, email, washroom, walking around or stretching. I would then do another 50 minutes of studying, followed by 10 minutes of relaxing. This cycle would continue for 7-8 hours.
How I did this: I started the timer on my iPhone for 50 minutes, and proceeded to throw my phone off to the side. During the 50 minutes, my phone would be in airplane mode, ensuring that I didn't get any distracting texts or tweets. After every 50 minutes, Aloe Blacc's song, "I need a dollar." would start to play, announcing the break!
I've done this on and off for the past month and became really excited because I could go 8am-5pm straight. 90% of the time, my productivity would be through the roof. It was awesome! I also somehow associated feelings of happiness and accomplishment every time Aloe came on.
What became weirder over my study sessions was the fact that even when Aloe came on, there were occasions where I would continue working on study problems for 10-15 minutes! Eagerly! These occasions happened when I was in the middle of figuring the question out with a sense of confidence that I was capable of figuring out the answer.
The concept of flow, posited by psychology researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a current mental state which matches your challenge level and skill level, has been floating around in my discussions with friends. For me, being in a state of flow has been phenomenal.
I recognize that I'm in flow when I have all of the following;
a) high intensity of concentration and focus,
b) clarity of thinking,
c) an openness to new ideas or reframing old ones,
d) increase in critical-thinking and problem-solving,
e) an eagerness to learn and discover
f) spurts of limitless creativity where all options seem possible
Flow generally starts when I have an actionable short-term goal that is significant to my well-being in the long run. Time tends to pass by and it doesn't matter because I am focused on the present. It is able to continue if the short-term goals change and evolve for the better. However, the minute something else more interesting pops up, there is a loss of flow.
I'm still playing around with the idea of consistent flow, especially since at this point in time, I've been in constant flow for 72 hours (with the exception of sleep time, which has decreased significantly). To avoid crashing, I'm consuming high levels of nutrients through different fruits (bananas, apples, oranges), and LOTS of tea (8 cups/day: Green, Earl Grey, Chrysanthemum, and some Starbucks Zen ish), and straight WATERRRRRRR =D (4 glasses) , in addition to my meals.
Q-Tip so far:
With subjects that you don't like, or the ones that you find harder to grasp, study in shorter periods of time. (40-50 minutes is optimal)
With subjects that you do like, or subjects that match both your skill and challenge level, longer study sessions are possible since it induces flow. (1 hour+)
A blog on my continuing journey through life, covering self-development and success strategies, but also personal reflection.