I’ve long noticed that when I am working in a flow state, distracting apps/websites can’t touch me for hours on end. However, sometimes with tasks that can’t create a flow state for me (perhaps less challenging, more monotonous tasks) are more vulnerable to being thrown off-track by distraction.
Is this true for mostly everyone? If so, what methods have you used to try to create flow-state around tasks that may feel less stimulating and challenging than what typically puts you in a flow?
I’ve read somewhere before that “play” comes from doing things in a safe space with clear limitations (“rules”), and I wonder if flow state comes hand in hand with that. Maybe adding some limitations to make the monotonous work more challenging could help - e.g. doing things within a certain time limit, trying to optimize for the highest possible quality standard, challenging yourself to use more varied vocabulary when writing emails, etc.
Also, if it’s a passive task (therefore easier to try to escape from), I try to add some mechanical stimulation. Watching online lectures is literally the hardest thing for me to focus on without feeling tempted to scroll, so I doodle or paint my nails or fidget with my ukulele while listening and it helps me stay concentrated.
Sometimes it feels like there’s a threshold of the amount of working memory you have to be using in order to be able to focus.
Adding complexity to a mundane task is interesting – just not sure how applicable it is for some tasks.
That’s a really good observation re fidgeting while watching lectures! I think you’ve articulated the working memory threshold very well, I have never looked at it like that before.
Thanks for sharing, Ramy!