19 July 2012

Finding flow when you're fighting with life.

When times get tough, the tough get flowing.

Life is busy! And the daily demands on us can be stressful!  When you're out of flow, everything seems difficult.  Mental blocks set in, procrastination takes over and obstacles appear to thwart your every move.

Finding focus and flow in the midst of chaos and confusion is essential to achieve peak performance in your personal and work life.

Finding flow is about regaining focus and a sense of ease, when you feel like you're spinning out of control.

If your brain is scrambled and your stress levels are screaming, try these 6 strategies to get back into flow:

1. Find Deep Focus
Dave Lakhani, author of Power of an Hour, says you can master your life and your business in less than an hour a week, using short one hour bursts of ‘Fearless Focus’. For one hour, let nothing distract you. Shut the door, restrain yourself from checking emails, and let calls go to message-bank. Totally zone into the task that’s holding you back from being in control. Be fearless enough to say no to any distractions that entice you off-track. Set your mind to complete or dramatically progress the task and maintain this deep focus for 45 minutes. Use the remaining 15 minutes of your Power Hour to grab a cuppa, take a pit-stop and re-set your mind for your next hour of focus.

2. Manage your Mindset
What differentiates peak performers is their ability to manage their mental chatter to support rather than sabotage. Be ruthless about what you allow yourself to think about and discard any inner conversation that is disempowering. Reframing your mental monkey chatter takes awareness and discipline to break years of habitual patterns of thinking. Often we find ourselves stuck because our beliefs, attitudes or viewpoints are no longer valid for our current situation or circumstances. Flow comes when you can be flexible and bold enough to reject thoughts that no longer serve you.

3. Run with your Rhythm
Flow is easier when you are working with your natural energy cycles. If you’re a night owl, you’re not going to be on top of your game in a 9am strategy meeting with your boss. You’ll gain flow by leaving critical tasks for later in the day when you are in your peak performance cycle. Conversely, morning people are not going to be effective taking work home with them. Much better for the early risers to start fresh and early the next day.

4. Take Time to Regroup.
Flow does not come easily when you are mentally fatigued. Many people work through their lunch hour on the false assumption they’ll cut through their load. However, burnout kills flow. Insufficient recovery periods are to the detriment of clear thinking and productivity. So make time to switch off; head off to the gym, book a massage or take a walk to clear the cobwebs. Even a stretch and tea-break can work wonders to help you recharge.

5. Meditate for Mind Calm
People who have learnt the skill to take short meditative moments throughout their day achieve more with less stress (proven with research). Consciously slow down and stop rushing. When nothing is coming easily, hold back from ‘doing’ anything for a few minutes and allow yourself to just ‘be’. Stop, find your centre, and breathe deeply. This will provide the brain space you need to subconsciously work through the issue, and to mentally ‘hear’ the answers.

6. Model Success
When people get stuck, they often go around in circles, repeating the same mistake time and again. Break the pattern by finding someone who’s achieved previous success in a similar task. They’ll often be able to offer a new perspective or fresh insight. Ask plenty of questions and model their approach. Leveraging off other people’s knowledge and strategies can put you back into flow. Consider working with a business coach or finding a mentor to help you see things a different way.

Finding flow is about taking stock of where you are and where you need to be. When you feel you’ve got the boxing gloves out and fighting with life, stop forcing a solution and try allowing one to flow.