Flow state is an important aspect of my life. I remember slipping into flow while building things with LEGO as a kid. Then later when executing my best runs while skateboarding at the skate park. When I was a bit older it was during tests in school and while writing some of my first programs. These cases were never intentional though. They happened and it was cool that I got a lot of work done, then I’d go to do more and flounder.
Later, when I started writing software more seriously, I started to try to induce this state. Unfortunately, I didn’t have words for it, there was just good focus vs bad focus. One afternoon I was reading a blog post about athletes and being in the zone, which sort of reminded me of what I knew of when I was programming. I can’t find the post now, but searching for “the zone” let me find articles about flow.
Since then it has been a journey of trying to find triggers, figure out if any chemicals like caffeine can assist or hurt. There is a lot of research, but not a ton of it is good.
For me, I’ve been finding it is easier to get into flow in the extremities of the day. Either in the morning or at night. Afternoon or evening is generally a bust for me. Caffeine if I am not constantly drinking it, can be a great tool for when I need to sit down and get a lot of work done. Finally environment can be really influential, coffee shops and the like tend to be a good place for me, especially where I don’t know as many people. Conversely, at the office where I do know folks is terrible.
Keeping these things in mind, if it is a work day I try to spend my morning cranking out code and really getting stuff done while ignoring work chat unless someone directly mentions me. Often times I’ll go to a coffee shop (SE Grind is my current favorite) so I can get food and caffeine. Then in the latter half of the work day I am on work chat more, helping people out or discussing things. Between the two phases of the day I’ve been able to be more productive lately.
Non-work days I try to get my SC2 practice in the morning and at night. Using the middle of the day for relaxing, riding my bike, and getting chores done. I expect to have more to post on this topic in a few weeks after I see how this is working out for me. Until then, have a good day!