The other day when I sat down at a cafe to edit a paper for my studies at University, I couldn’t because I hadn’t brought all the notes I needed. I completed a different writing task, so all wasn’t lost. But then it became difficult to find the time to get back to this particular project, because of course other jobs now got in the way.
Today, I got to go to a cafe and get back to the editing I needed to do. It felt good to be finally getting on with this task, and making progress.
After years and years of making lists, I’ve come to the realisation that I’m not a list person. While that’s the advice given and share in the motivational world, make a list get it out of your head, it doesn’t work for me. I prefer to keep it all in my head.
I might forget particular jobs this way but even with a list I’ve let some projects go unattended, especially since I have so many lists each for the different areas of my life.
By not making a written list, I can adjust the order of the jobs as I need to in my mind depending on other priorities that might come up during that day. By having this flexibility it means I can allow my intuition influence over what gets done as suited for the day, my mood, and what else is happening in my life. It’s a more harmonious approach, my anxiety levels are reduced, and I don’t feel like I’m forcing myself to get things done or that I’m weighed down by shoulds and should nots. This way my mind can rearrange the to-do list in a flexible and intuitive way, the way I like to approach life.
Of course my ego protests. It voices its doubt, and that there’s no way this creative approach will work. I’ll never finish projects or make progress and it will, as in my life, will be a mess. This is life. A mess. For sure, there are times when lists are helpful. But when my life is just as productive and less stressful when I take a more fluid approach, I notice that maybe these goal driven approaches aren’t for me.
While I do have a strong logical brain, I also have an equally strong creative brain. Based on how unpredictable life can be, how chaotic it is, and how one is really not in control, it makes sense to be able to switch between the two, and give the creativity, the intuitive side just as much value as the logical and planned side.
My dad always kept the details of the farm and breeding of the sheep in his head. There were a few notes in the dusty Elders notebooks in the ute. Your mind is good at remembering what’s important but it’s not usually a finite situation. There’s a limit for how much can be remembered at one time, maybe this can be extended or maybe not. But this is the amount of memory space you have to work with. Over loading it will only lead to a form of shut down. So by working with what you’ve got can actually be expansive. It’s a more feminine approach. Women do it all the time, and no it’s not necessarily about multi-tasking. But more understanding what you’ve got to work with, head space, time, personal energy, environment, other people and then making the best of that in an extraordinary fluid balance that may change without warning or throughout the day multiple times.
It’s not surprising I’m finding I work better this way. After all a big tell tale sign is how I approach my writing. There’s two main ways, connected by a spectrum, pantser or plotter. I’m a pantser. I fly by the seat of my pants when I write the story and characters all come out organically and I don’t plan (like a plotter). It means I often think of plot twists and points on the fly, and come up with ideas spontaneously rather than getting weighed up in the planning. This style isn’t for everyone. What’s important is to recognise what works for you, and then go with that. There are times when you need to switch between the two approaches left or right, logical or creative, planned or unplanned, or maybe even straight ahead in the unique balance which works for you.
Are you a list maker? Does it improve your approach to getting jobs done, and reduce stress levels? Or do you find it easier to have the mental fluid list and do just fine that way? Let me know if lists work for you or not in the comments below.
When writing I try and spend a lot of time trying to get into the creative flow, where the ideas seem to slip off the end of my pen. It feels magical when I create like this. There are so many possibilities. I’m relaxed, happy, and feeling capable of anything. On a side note, it doesn’t mean what I write is perfect and won’t need editing, that will need to be done later, first the words need to be written, and when in a creative flow this happens more easily.
Writing in the flow is also when I’m not pushing through a block, or dealing with doubt, or obsessing whether or not the story is any good. When in the flow I’m at peace with myself, and my surroundings, and what I am creating. This extends into life, not just when I’m writing.
The other day, I had an entire day of being in the flow. I was relaxed, and I moved gracefully from one job to the next. I felt at peace, even when things went wrong. I kept a level-head and problem solved then moved on. Reflecting on the day, I couldn’t help see how being in what I term my flow that this is how life is meant to be lived. I was fulfilled, and satisfied. And I did it without trying or setting my intention to be in the flow, or to get certain jobs done that day.
By doing so, I felt and experienced what a day of being in the flow is like. The way it felt will be my compass to find this flow again, something I can tap into when preparing for a day or when turning a negative day around.
Something else I got out of the day was how this flow is similar but also different to the type of flow I experience when writing. This flow wasn’t a creative flow. I didn’t write that day. It was more like a graceful dance throughout the day moving both the good, the bad and the ugly through me. I experienced the emotions, and feelings, and then let go as the dance continued leaving space for new sensations to be felt.
Being in this life flow isn’t only good for well-being but also for generating creative solutions, innovative ideas, intuitive insights both personally and socially. It’s when you are in this frame of mind when solutions surface, even simple things like a particular way home which ends up saving time. Overall, it’s a more peaceful and harmonious way to untangle thoughts and focus is balanced with you and your environment, which is better than forcing an outcome, which is often driven by modern life and work goals, and the pursuit of success.
Now I’ve done it and managed to capture the experience and compare it to the creative flow I’m very familiar with, it will be easier for me to slip into this flow of life in the future – starting with tomorrow.