7 Simple Ways to Get Into a Flow State When Writing
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Do you ever struggle to get into a “flow state” when writing? Unfortunately, it can happen to the best of us.
When you need to meet deadlines, there’s no time to deal with writer's block. Try these seven tactics to get focused, enhance your creativity and become a writing machine.
1. Eliminate all distractions.
It’s no secret that distractions are all around you. The email inbox and social media are two of the most common productivity killers, and you deal with them on a daily basis. When those notifications start sounding, people often drop whatever it is they're doing to check on new information.
Eliminate these interruptions that compete for your attention. First, silence your phone. Put it in airplane or "do not disturb" mode so text messages, calls and emails can't threaten to tear you away from writing.
Another great option: a browser extension that limits the amount of time you spend on certain websites. If you use Google Chrome, you can download an extension such as StayFocusd to help you out. It gives you a set amount of time to visit certain sites -- think Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit and the like. Once you’ve used up your allotted time, it’s back to work! The sites you’ve chosen to block will be inaccessible for the remainder of your day. It may sound a bit harsh, but it’s easily the best way to stop you from surfing aimlessly when you have real work that needs doing.
2. Listen to instrumental music on a loop.
Many people enjoy listening to music while working. Did you know there's a way you can make your playlist much more productive for you when you’re writing? Choose one to three songs without vocals and add them to a special playlist you can turn on whenever you sit down to write. Musical repetition helps get you into the zone so your brain can focus more intently, without becoming distracted by other noise. Ultimately, your brain registers the tones as background noise instead of a competing sound. Classical music or some type of white noise typically produces the best results.
3. Stay hydrated.
A variety of side effects can creep up on you when your body becomes dehydrated. Some people get headaches when they haven’t had enough to drink. Others experience severe brain fog. Often referred to as “brain fatigue,” this essentially is an episode of mental confusion. It can leave you unfocused and reeling from reduced mental acuity and/or poor memory recall.
When your body becomes dehydrated, brain fog can appear without any warning and make it much more challenging for you to enter a flow state. Keep a water bottle at your desk or other work area as a subtle reminder to keep sipping. Make certain you drink at least eight, eight-ounce glasses of water per day.
Related: Here's Why You Can't Stay Focused
4. Supplement your nutrition.
Nootropics provide many benefits for mental performance. They often are used to enhance attention levels, but they can also serve as mood boosters or aid in preventing fatigue. Some nootropics aim to improve creativity, which is sure to come in handy for writers.
Research your options to see which supplements on the market might be the best fit for you. Examine the benefits they offer, study the ingredients lists, and read reviews from people who've taken the specific nootropics you're considering. Then, try ingesting a nootropic before a long writing session to gauge its effects on your body chemistry.
5. Don't depend on stimulants.
Although it may seem nice to put a few cups of coffee in the tank before you sit down to write, you should be mindful about how much caffeine you're actually consuming. Too many stimulants can leave you feeling jittery and unable to focus. And when you’re trying to get some writing done, that's not what you want to deal with. Instead of loading up on multiple cups of coffee or tea, try restricting yourself to just one or two throughout the day.
6. Take a nature break.
If you feel as if you’ve come down with a case of mental fatigue, give yourself the freedom to take a break. Ideally, you'd step outside your work zone and leave the office environment behind for a dose of mother nature.
A University of Melbourne study found that looking at grassy rooftops helped people reduce the number of errors they made and also improved their concentration. Even a small break to get some fresh air can help decrease stress levels and re-energize your senses.
If it's too cold to get outside, you might be surprised to learn that looking out your window can do the trick, too. Whatever you do, make sure to incorporate short breaks throughout the day.
7. Fit in exercise.
It's probably not the advice you want to hear, but there's no escaping it: Physical exercise is crucial for a healthy mind and body. Regular movement makes a tremendous difference.
In fact, getting out for a walk can actually help improve your concentration and focus, even when done just a few times per week. Researchers at the University of Illinois found that walking for 40 minutes, three times a week, improved cognitive function. It enhanced the connectivity of brain circuits, helped combat declines in brain performance associated with aging and increased performance on cognitive tasks.