The trick

The only thing better than well-thought-out articles, with a nice water–color image, that refer to a good book, that tie together some thoughts I was already having, published on the open web making the Internet a better place? When it’s written by someone I know personally. Here, have this…

The good news is that, according to Csikszentmihalyi, it is totally in my power to maintain flow, or at least maximize the amount of time spent in the flow state. After all, the attention split between the conflicting objectives happens entirely in my head. The trick, for the lack of a better word, is to convince myself to take interest in what needs to be done and to apply mental energy in order to increase the complexity of the activity at hand.

~ Peter Oshkai from, http://peteroshkai.com/2023/09/17/more-on-flow-and-photography/

For me, that attention split—my perception that there actually exist conflicting objectives—is the source of struggle. When I simply don’t invent the need for anything I enjoy doing to be a successful business… Boop. It’s all pleasant creation, heavy lifting and flow state.

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Knowing when to stop

This editing continues until the painting is finished. The criterion for what constitutes a “finished” work is reaching the stage at which you are no longer sure whether applying additional changes makes it better or worse. So there is a real possibility of making things worse than they were by not stopping at the right moment. Incidentally, this is the main argument for taking frequent breaks from your work, even at the risk of interrupting a flow state. Doing so allows you to take a more detached, if not completely objective, look at the current state of your work and thus avoid making costly mistakes.

~ Peter Oshkai from, http://peteroshkai.com/2020/06/04/ways-to-fail/

This is a brilliant way to tell when to stop.

I also believe that stopping while in the flow state is a good way to set oneself up for the next working session. I call it “parking on the hill”—which is a reference to strategically parking one’s car, nose downhill, on a hill so that it can be jump-started using the manual transmission. When stopping a work session, it’s obvious how to pre-position all the physical materials, the space, etc.. But stopping mid-flow also means, in my opinion, your mind is “parked on a hill” as well.

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