These past few weeks have seen an increase in my commitment to Krav Maga. I’m teaching more classes, running more private training and doing other things related to the business. It’s something I’m passionate about, but it also means my “work hours” (i.e. hours I’ve committed and am responsible for) have increased.

This isn’t a bad thing – it just means I need to be more focused and locked in with the work I do at Owlsight. As a result of this changing schedule, I’m finding myself with brief periods of free time, often in places I’m not so comfortable with.

Here’s an example of my Friday last week.

  • 8am to 10am Private training session with Gino.
  • 1pm to 2pm Marketing talk with Adam.
  • 4pm to 7pm Krav Maga teaching at Surry Hills.

The hours “left” and available to work on Owlsight-related activities?

  • 10am to 12pm in Surry Hills.
  • 2pm to 3:30pm in Surry Hills.
  • 8pm to 9pm on the train.

You’ve probably heard about flow. It’s the mental state where you’re “locked in”, “in the zone” and fully immersed in some activity or task. The concept has perhaps been around for much of civilisation and has been hinted at in some of the eastern philosophies. The West, however, was made aware of this concept through Mihály Csíkszentmihályi (one of the most difficult names of an author I’ve had to pronounce) and his book, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.

I read his book a few years ago and always seemed to have the impression that I needed to be in a perfect environment with a good chunk of time ahead of me to achieve flow.

Flow is that sensation you get when a whole afternoon flies by and you haven’t stopped for food, drink or sleep. You’ve been so immersed and productive in your work.

I’m now beginning to question some of these assumptions I’ve had about flow.

Why does the environment need to be perfect? Nothing else in life is perfect, so why would our environmental conditions ever be this way? That’s just an erroneous expectation.

Really all you need is to be comfortable in the environment you’re working in. Whether that’s the home office you’ve lovingly constructed, some random cafe, or squished into a train during peak hour. As long as I’m comfortable I can become locked in and perform good work.

workspace-on-the-go

An example of my workspace on the go. Plyo boxes have so many uses.

But how much time do you need to fully immerse yourself in a task?

I’ve always thought that to start something takes much more energy than maintaining it. It’s simple physics. As the momentum of an object increases, the force required to sustain the momentum decreases.

Momentum increases without distractions.

It’s kind of the same thing with tasks (but not quite, for all you physics nerds out there). When you constantly stop and start a task (whether being interrupted by commitments or phone calls/notifications), you’re constantly having to “restart the motor” to get back into a productive state.

Momentum stalls with distractions.

So yes, there’s obviously more potential for you to be productive if you have a long period of time ahead of you. It’s not so simple. Just because you have 8 hours free ahead of you doesn’t mean you’ll use every minute of those 8 hours.

What’s that sweet spot? The point at which I’ve done a lot of good work but I’m about to lose interest?

It varies from person to person. I can’t tell you what your own Goldilocks Zone is, that’s something you’ll have to figure out for yourself. But I can tell you mine. Four to five hours. I’m really locked-in during this time.

What are your experiences with working in random places at short notice for brief periods? Have you considered that there’s a sweet spot for your personal productivity? Share your thoughts with a comment below or by dropping me an email.

Luke.


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