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Create Flow with the Right Environment

To obtain the state of deep focus known as “flow,” distractions must be removed.

Steven Kotler, The Rise of Superman

 Create Flow with the Right Environment

We can easily make tweaks to our environment to minimise distractions while adding elements to induce the immersive flow state. This is a guide to creating the right environment and habits conducive to the flow state.

Done correctly, you will unlock creativity and get high quality work done in less time. I start by offering some simple common sense tips and progress through to some cutting edge opportunities. We will also address pain in its various manifestations and how it is a roadblock to your flow. My goal here is to give you tools you may not have considered before.

 

The Boring Common Sense Basics Checklist:

  1. Turning your phone on “Airplane mode” and turning off all popup notifications on your computer.
  2. Scheduling your communication or messaging time for breaks in between work sessions. Eliminate the habit of constantly checking for new email. After turning off notifications, you also need to control that urge to just login and check.
  3. RescueTime - Your accountability partner. Lets you schedule blocked-access to distracting websites (Facebook etc.) on a schedule you define. For example, you could block access to Facebook during your work hours and allow yourself access to email for only 20 minutes at 2 intervals during the day. This app will also give you a report showing you exactly how you have been spending your time. The feedback is invaluable.
  4. Set a short term goal to focus and complete in order to stop thinking about the future and all the unfounded possibilities that your imagination creates.

  5. Address underling issues: Vitamin D and Magnesium deficiencies and possibly your B12 insufficiency. All are very common.

The human condition is complex and without going too far down the rabbit hole, here are four things to explore that tend to be overlooked. Underlying issues could include:

Adrenal Fatigue - A chronic and unchecked stress response to non-life threatening situations.

Pre-diabetes and insulin resistance - A direct result of a sedentary lifestyle and poor dietary choices.

Gut Dysbiosis - Leaky Gut Syndrome seems to affect a lot of people to some degree.

Candida: Most doctors will send you home with an antibiotic prescription. But Candida is a fungus and by damaging your microbiome with antibiotics, you're actually creating an environment where candida can thrive.

Gum disease and tooth decay:  Inflammatory dental conditions can cause chronic pain. Most people do not brush 3 times a day or floss and many of us eat sugary or acidic foods that damage our mouths. Nadine Artemis on Bulletproof Radio

Lyme disease: Tim Ferriss and Dr. Rhonda Patrick on "Ketosis, Microbiome, Lyme Disease, and Biomarkers"

Pain & Inflammation will obstruct your flow.

Eye Health

Near and Far vision. One of the many disadvantages of an office cubicle is your restricted field of vision. Simply working in front of a window means you can relax your eyes as often as you like. This relaxes your eyes to help avoid getting headaches, delay eyestrain and save you from Myopia and joining the ranks of prescription eyewear users. So you have both an acute and long-term reason to take care of your eyes better.

Researchers have identified a biological age of 40 as when eyesight starts to weaken and people typically have to pursue things like reading glasses for near-vision, followed by cataract surgery etc because macular degeneration continues as we age. Notice I used the term “biological” age, because your lifestyle determines the speed of progression of the disease.

 

Deal with excessive artificial blue light exposure

The F.lux app gives you control over the colour temperatures of your screen. You can synch it with sunset so you don’t have to continue being blasted with blue light from a bright screen at night.

Blue light blocking glasses are a great addition or alternative since they block blue light and also UV light. These UVEX glasses block out all blue light, but as you can see, they are not safe-for-work since you risk social disenfranchisement :-) This other pair of glasses may be the better choice as they still block out 50% of blue light and all UV rays.

Light

Blue light is actually exactly what you need to wake you up and get going in the morning. There’s nothing to replicate a healthy dose of sunshine for both light and vitamin D synthesis. Though when you’re looking for an energy boost during dark winters, or when it’s late at night or early in the morning, using an energy light can inhibit melatonin production and give you more energy.

Sounds

As well as blocking out distracting sounds (and people are less likely to interrupt you) you can input the right sounds.

  • Search Youtube for free binaural beats,
  • For an upgraded, well-researched and time-tested audio experience, try Brain.Fm

There’s a name for the condition that your spine develops as result of desk and mobile phone posture: Kyphosis.

 

Kyphosis: The condition that your spine develops as result of desk and mobile phone posture

Don’t do this to yourself.

You’ve probably experienced the health problems that come with a sedentary lifestyle. Maybe back pain, carpel tunnel syndrome or even diabetes. Humans just weren’t meant to sit around all day. Fortunately, there are many ways we can biohack our workstation to keep our bodies moving and our muscles engaged. Most corporate office workstations don’t cater to freely moving your body, but thankfully, some are changing since employers understand that healthier employees are more productive and take less sick days!

  • Use a swiss ball as a chair 
  • Work from a standing or treadmill desk.
  • Position a pull-up bar above your desk and use it throughout the day to stretch, pull, push and hang! (Totally not WHS compliant, but what you do in your home-office, is your business.)

Take a break every 30 minutes to do some form of movement. Make use of a foam roller and lacrosse balls to roll and release all over your body, paying special attention to the neck and shoulder area. You’ve been rolling your shoulders forward and craning your neck towards your monitor for the past hour. Now take just a few minutes to take care of yourself. You are more important than the deadline or making it look like you’re busy.  

Simple Movement Idea: Foundation Training. This may just change your life:

 

Nutrition

Try intermittent fasting: A fasting state can help increase focus and learning, not to mention a whole host of other benefits. The quotes below are from an article I encourage everyone to read: http://bit.ly/1QyywO1

“Normal brains, when overfed, can experience a kind of uncontrolled excitation, impairing the brain’s function,”

“Fasting is a challenge to your brain, and your brain responds to that challenge by adapting stress response pathways which help your brain cope with stress and risk for disease. The same changes that occur in the brain during fasting mimic the changes that occur with regular exercise. They both increase the production of protein in the brain (neurotrophic factors), which in turn promotes the growth of neurons, the connection between neurons, and the strength of synapses.”

 

 

 No discussion on intermittent fasting can go without mentioning ketosis.

Borderline high cholesterol improves cognitive function: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15673620

(This makes it sound like a bulletproof coffee is a great idea!)

 

Supplement

So now we’re looking at how we can introduce nutrients into our system and manipulate our neurotransmitters for personal gain. Is there a trade-off? Will there be equal downtime to compensate for the period of accentuated productivity?

Anti-inflammatories. As above, if you’re body is dealing with something, then you’re not going to be able to focus. Acutely, this could be something as simple as a histamine reaction to an insect bite. However, we also need to address chronic low-grade inflammation which has been linked to a ton of lifestyle malaise:

  • Turmeric
  • Omega 3s
  • Vitamin D, especially in winter if you’re not getting enough sunshine, and magnesium are also important.

 

Nootropics

Which came first? Nootropics or the Limitless movie? Whichever, the idea of a genius pill has captivated the world and the demand for it continues to grow as we continue to improve upon the quality of our stacks. So does NZT48 exist? We believe it is possible to tailor a stack to every individual's needs which will vary based on goals and also tolerance. A stack that provides a temporary high, followed by just as long a crash may be ok in some limited circumstances, but most of us have 24-7, multifaceted lives. We want to perform exceptionally in all area.

Read more in the post: Biohacker's intro to Nootropics Supplement Stacks.

 

Relaxed Focus: The flow state, where you can get in the zone and become one with the task ahead of you. This could be reading a book, penning a blog post, playing an instrument, running a marathon or any other activity. This is about enjoying a sense of calm while getting on with achieving great things!

Flow by Hapi is a supplement designed to lend a helping hand and eventually build the lifestyle habits that are conducive to the flow state. It’s not a magic pill, but it is a learning aid that will help show you what your potential is. It’s a lot easier to aim high once you get a first-hand sense of how high you can go. 

So does all this theory work in practice? Well, I just learned about Gravitational Waves - hardcore physics that I normally wouldn’t have the time of day for. It was only possible because I created an environment within my body, mind and living space where I could focus, get in flow and absorb the knowledge. I am in a lot less pain.


Kunal K
Kunal K

Author

Co-Founder, OptimOZ.com.au