About a year ago this time, I was working a full time job with over an hour commute each way. I was in the middle of my MBA program and was doing all the day to day activities for our mobile app business. A year later now, I have quit my job to turn all my focus to growing the business. My classes are not as demanding as last year and we have three part time help to help with a lot of day to day activities of the Business. With all that extra time, I was hoping to be at the peak of my productivity and get a lot more done than what I was able to a year ago. However, the truth is that I feel like I was more productive and getting more done when I hardly had a spare minute. I have less focus and feel as if I am constantly achieving less than what I was a year ago .
I am starting to realize that my brain is more productive when there is a time crunch and a deadline. Even though, I am not a big fan of structure, It seems that I cant do away with all the structure and minimal structure might just be what I need to restore my productivity. I recently, read the book "Flow" by Mihali Chikcent Mihaly, and his definition of Flow hit close to home for me. Mihali defines Flow as a state of mind
In positive psychology, flow, also known as the zone, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.
Flow theory postulates three conditions that have to be met to achieve a flow state:
- One must be involved in an activity with a clear set of goals and progress. This adds direction and structure to the task.
- The task at hand must have clear and immediate feedback. This helps the person negotiate any changing demands and allows them to adjust their performance to maintain the flow state.
- One must have a good balance between the perceived challenges of the task at hand and their own perceived skills. One must have confidence in one's ability to complete the task at hand.
It seems I was having easier time achieving state of flow last year. With limited time, my goals were clear and I could not afford to be scattered very often. I had that good balance between stress and productivity.
I have been going through a lot of blog posts about productivity and habits lately and been trying to implement few small changes in my daily habits. Two changes that have made the most impact so far are:
- Use of the App productive to create a routine and build habit.
- Setting concrete deadlines with tasks and subtasks.