flow productivity

Flow and The Simple Zen-Like Activities That Make Me Happy

This Week’s BIG Idea

To me, the secret to productivity involves being in a constant state of flow. When it comes to productivity, flow is one of the most important concepts you can learn. For those unfamiliar, flow is a state of mind that happens when you’re so focused on a task that you lose track of time. I often think about the activities that make me feel like that. When I was younger, this happened when I played video games. Now that I’m older I don’t get much satisfaction from killing orcs in virtual worlds. That’s because my values have changed a lot. When I was younger I valued entertainment, but now that I’m older, I care about learning. 

These are the activities that, in the last couple of months, allowed me to get into that flow state:

  • Doing pixel art with my kid: I know a lot of people get the same feeling from coloring mandalas, but there’s something to doing pixel art that makes it more personal. I look for the term “pixel art” on Pinterest and I pick an image that I like. I then spend as much as I need marking squares on a squared sheet of paper. Finally, I color each square accordingly. This process can take several minutes or several hours depending on the scope of the project I’m working on. I’ve been teaching this to my five-year-old and we spend hours coloring the pictures we like. The pictures I end up with aren’t perfect by any means. Listening to music while doing pixel art has been one of the best things I’ve done in a while though.
  • Playing the guitar: When I learn a new song on the guitar, I practice the same arrangement over and over again. I just get so immersed in the experience that I forget about everything else.
  • Summarizing and editing articles: There was a moment while I was working on the summary from the book Zero to One where I completely lost track of time.

What I’m Working on

For the past few years, I’ve been using Notion as my main note-taking app. Although it has a steep learning curve at first, using Notion has been incredibly rewarding. You can have a bunch of notes that link each other and everything is searchable and organized. There was one particular feature that I never considered when I was choosing a note-taking app: I needed something that worked offline.

While I usually have access to an internet connection wherever I go, I’ve missed my notes on a handful of occasions. I’ve often wondered if it’s worth migrating all of the information I have in Notion to a different app, but the answer so far has been a resounding “no”. This would be a herculean task, not the mention that other apps don’t have the same functionalities as Notion. Also, saving quick notes on Google Keep and then migrating them to Notion isn’t the end of the world. If you’re in the process of choosing a note-taking app though, don’t make the same mistake I did, and take features like this into consideration.  

What I’m Listening to

As I said before, I’ve been taking my personal finances more seriously. For this purpose, I’ve used several resources. One of the best ones is Ramit Sethi’s I Will Teach You to Be Rich. This is one of the best books on personal finance and believe me, I’ve read several of those. The problem with most books about money is that they repeat themselves, and they’re dry and boring to read. Sethi stands out because he doesn’t pummel you with numbers or facts, which is I why enjoyed his talk with Steven Bartlett quite a bit.

What I’m Reading

A Complaint Free World by Will Bowen: We all know that complaining is a toxic behavior, but what would happen if you didn’t complain? In the book, Bowen teaches you the Complaint Free program so that you can experience better health, better relationships, and more happiness. The best part about the book is its practical nature since it teaches you to move a bracelet from wrist to wrist whenever you complain. The idea is to make it twenty-one days without moving your bracelet. The book also teaches the theory behind the practical idea, as well as all the benefits you’ll get from it.

What I’m Watching 

Ali Abdaal mentioned this video in one of his newsletters and as a fan of Yu-Gi-Oh! I want to give it a chance. I used to watch the show as a teenager, and that led to reading the manga and playing the card game. Later on, I played several games in the franchise, but I never dedicated much time to the online games. I’ve been trying to reconnect with old hobbies of the past and this video might scratch that itch. 

This Week’s Quote

“If something great happens in your life and the people around you aren’t happy for you—that’s a problem. Find new people.”

Mark Manson

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