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How to Achieve a State of Flow While Doing Something Uninteresting

Ville Kokko

Posted on August 30, 2018 16:18

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Recently, I discovered that I could make time spent doing humdrum work really interesting and rewarding. The trick was being able to do something else at the same time.

I had a remarkable experience a few days back.

You probably wouldn't think so if you saw me, though, delivering newspapers at night and staring at my phone.

But this time, that was remarkable enough, and here's why.

This newspaper thing is a fairly pleasant job, but it's still something I just do for a living. I see the time I spend there as a price I have to pay to supplement my income while I'm looking for ”real” work.

But for me, real work doesn't mean stereotypical, preferably non-creative nine to five work. It means something I want to make a career of. Something that will make me feel like I'm living fully while I'm doing it.

There's this idea that work should be a chore that you spend much of your life doing so that you can really afford to live afterwards. But some people show that it doesn't have to be like that. They love what they do for its own sake; they make a living doing what they would want to do anyway. That's the kind of career I want.

Right now, I'm working with a kind of career counselor to find paid writing work, particularly in science journalism – something I haven't done before but I should have good existing skills for.

So what about last night? Simple: while doing routine work I didn't have to think about much, I was reading articles about a topic that interests me personally and that I might be writing an article about myself.

I've read some things while waiting in elevators and the like before, but I've never been able to focus on it so well. Now, I just kept getting out the phone on every little occasion, and I read several articles during the few hours of work.

I was very focused on what I was doing and barely noticed the passing of time. It was probably some version of the state of flow. Perhaps needing to give a portion of my focus to normal work was making it suitably challenging to be even more stimulating.

They keep saying multitasking isn't good, but I've noticed I sometimes have a surplus of attentional capacity: for example, during a slow-moving lecture, I may be able to focus better if I divide some of my attention to something else so my mind doesn't wander off altogether.

So I was able to enjoy myself while doing work that I'm usually indifferent to. I didn't even mind having to make an extra round because some papers were late: it was just more time to read.

But it wasn't really about enjoying myself. What was great was what it meant: I was able to make use of the time I have to spend to make a living to also do something I'm really into and that may lead to something greater. And I was getting some physical exercise at the same time.

Time is too precious to waste.

Ville Kokko

Posted on August 30, 2018 16:18

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Source: Forbes

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