If you’ve ever read John Adams or 1776 or any other award-winning book by David McCullough, you might be surprised to learn how he gets into the writing “zone.”
The magic happens in an 8 x 12 shed in his backyard, where he fires up his vintage Royal typewriter and starts pounding away. Two Pulitzer Prizes and two National Book Awards have flowed from that 80-year-old typewriter.
In an interview, he described the tactile experiences that help him reach the right state of mind:
- Winding the paper into place with the roller knob.
- Watching the keys strike the page.
- Hearing the familiar ding when he swings the carriage.
There may be far more efficient ways to create a great book, but maybe not. Maybe this archaic ritual facilitated the “flow state” that has enabled him to be such a gripping and prolific author.
What Is Flow State?
Flow state is the frame of mind that allows you to focus so tightly on the task at hand that everything else fades away into a hazy background. Distractions, worries, and even your consciousness of self start to disappear along with your negative self-talk and fears. Time speeds up. Two hours pass in what feels like two minutes.
Flow state is a massive catalyst for creativity and productivity. A 10-year study by the global consulting firm, McKinsey, reports that executives are five times more productive in a flow state. That means you can accomplish as much on a full flow state on a Monday as you could by working every day of the week in a steady state.
So how do you facilitate flow state while working your eCommerce side hustle?
1. Master Your Environment
Distractions pull you out of the flow state, so the most conducive work environment will be free of them. Noise-canceling headphones are a great place to start. While some people prefer silence, others prefer working to music.
Dinging phones are flow state enemies, so consider turning off the volume and moving your phone to another part of the room—or another room altogether.
Fatigue and discomfort can also hurt your flow. A standing desk can help you stay awake and alert, and some people think they’re more comfortable. If you like sitting at some times of the day and standing at others, a sit-to-stand desk may be the best option.
And if you’re just not flowing, don’t keep beating your head against the computer. Take a break. Go out in nature. Get your body moving with a brisk walk. If that doesn’t work, get a good night’s rest and come back to it tomorrow.
2. Plan Your Work Day Routines
Paradoxically, the free flow of flow state is best achieved not with a loosey-goosey free-for-all schedule but with clear parameters. The clutter of daily life will squeeze out any opportunity to get into a flow state if you don’t create rituals and habits that facilitate it.
For example, focus on admin tasks from 7 to 8 am daily to clear out all of the “stuff” rattling around in your head, then move into deep work between 8 and 10 or 11 a.m. You could knock out research, order fulfillment, and shipping in that two to three-hour block.
3. Just Start
Perfectionism and fear of failure can crush your flow state. Give yourself permission to start without having the perfect plan mapped out to the finish line.
Some entrepreneurs keep a journal nearby and get into the groove by writing out their feelings stream-of-consciousness style. This daily personal journaling exercise can get your flow going before transitioning to work.
Reading is also an excellent way to warm up your brain.
4. Set Deadlines
We’ve established that too much pressure in the form of perfectionism can throttle your flow state, but too little of it is detrimental, too. You can up the ante for accomplishment by setting a deadline for yourself, like completing three hours of research on your target audience.
5. Keep Learning
You don’t automatically know all the ways to make money on the side online; it is a learned craft. It involves research, studying results, making plans, and revising them. There are proven formulas to follow for optimal results.
The more you engage with your business, the more you will facilitate optimal flow. Take advantage of the best eCommerce training courses and masterminds to increase your skills.
Companies are currently spending a lot of money to catalyze flow state in their offices because they know it pays off. As your own boss, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get your home office and mindset just right.
Everyone gets to flow state in slightly different ways, like McCullough in his shed with his typewriter.
You can start with the five tips above and tweak them to your liking.
Don’t get discouraged if you’re not getting there as quickly as you want. Practice and trying out different ideas will help you achieve the satisfaction and efficiency of a flow state that can make your business even more fulfilling.