John R. Kowalski Integrative Marketing Fusion

Staying Focused and the Creative Flow

Staying Focused and the Creative Flow

swirl, ideas, b2b marketing, flow

This past week has been a whirlwind of work and life. Just some highlights

  • 2022 Marketing strategy final reviews
  • 2022 Marketing programs – begin outlining activities to support the strategy
  • Reviewing marketing automation and nurturing tools
  • New work projects started, and a few wrapped up
  • I received a notice that there’s a drug surge in the town where my two kids are
  • The usual fire training – new EMR protocols and review/prep on forcible entry (love that stuff!)
  • My mother had a routine surgery – all good, but still added stress on my dad and sisters, and on me while being not near them
  • Smoke alarm went off at 4:30 am Wednesday morning. It was a malfunctioning smoke detector but only determined after checking things out (including the attic), borrowing the TIC (thermal imaging camera) and doing a full sweep just to make sure. Have you checked and changed your smoke detector batteries lately? Do it this weekend – don’t wait.
Flow, the Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi book cover.

Sounds like a lot, yes? But you know something? It was a great week! I was focused and in the creative flow. Speaking of Flow, a moment of silence for Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the author of Flow passed away this week. If you don’t know about it, check it out, it’s a monumental and foundational read.

I’m sure you’ve been there before. You’re in the zone (or flow), your creative juices are flowing and then suddenly, it’s like someone pulled the plug on your laptop. Then you’re scrambling to find inspiration or idea that will get you going again. What if I told you that there was a way to stay focused and work more efficiently? This post is about how to do just that. This works for me, but the key is finding what works best for YOU!

Have you ever been rolling along to have life through you a huge number of curveballs all at once? How do you keep focused and stay in the creative flow while dealing with those curveballs?

I know I’ve been there plenty of times. It can be very hard to focus on your work when you have a million things going on at once. You might feel as if all your ideas are disappearing and it’s time to start from scratch again. In those moments, take a deep breath and focus on what is important for now, and focus on that.

Everyone has a different way of creating. For example, some people focus better with music playing in the background while others prefer quiet surroundings. Some focus best early in the morning while others focus best late at night. You need to find out what works for you.

I like the analogy of creativity as a muscle you need to work out or it won’t work at all. To find focus, find something that helps get your creative juices flowing again and keep going. Don’t sit there and assume nothing is working because chances are if you just give it time, focus will find you.

Here are some tips that focus my focus:

  • Write it down – If something is on your mind, write it down. It doesn’t have to be in a journal or even an idea for a blog post. For me I use OneNote so I can access my notes anytime from anywhere. This way if I feel stuck, I can open my notes and focus on one thing that keeps me focused.
  • Keep your workspace clean – Being organized is important. When you take time to clean up your work area, focus will automatically come. Cleaning helps me focus because it makes everything more simple and therefore easier to focus on whatever it is that needs focus.
  • Find focus – Sometimes it’s hard to focus on what you need focus on instead of worrying about all the things you must do. To find focus, make a list of everything you need to do and then focus on one thing at a time. You can even prioritize your task list depending on their importance.
  • Diversify your focus – While it’s good to focus on one thing at a time, sometimes focusing on too many things at once can zap focus. So, focus on one thing for an hour or two and then focus on another task. Or focus on your work for a while and then take a break with some fun activities.
  • Take your focus outdoors – Sometimes focusing indoors can be challenging. I focus better when I get some fresh air and focus outdoors. Going for a walk or taking a break outside helps me focus because it’s like getting away from everything and allowing myself to focus without distraction.
  • Stay hydrated – Getting plenty of water while working will help focus. Sometimes I focus better when I’ve got a full glass of water because it can be easy to get dehydrated when you focus for long periods at a time without drinking anything.
  • Reward focus – Rewarding yourself is very important in motivating focus. You want to focus on your work so you can have some fun, right? It’s good to focus on work but it’s even better if you let yourself have some fun or enjoy life while focusing.
  • Take a break – Find focus, but also remember to take time for yourself so you can relax and focus on having fun. Life is all about balance and finding focus should help us all become more productive, not less. A focus break can be just what you need to get back on track and focus more efficiently.

Try out different focus methods until you find what works best for you. It might take some time but with practice, focus will come naturally when it’s time to focus.

To summarize, here are some keys to not losing it when life comes at you

  • Be and stay organized
  • Prioritize
  • Time management
  • Self-imposed target dates
  • Real deadlines
  • Time for YOU – For me it’s spending enough quiet time to stay organized, playing the guitar and cooking

Most people find it difficult to stay focused and motivated. It’s so easy for your creative, “in the zone” state of mind to slip away from you when you’re working on a long deadline or project that requires a lot of focus. The good news is there are ways to keep yourself in this productive mindset longer! The above tips work well for me – maybe they’ll help you too?

What strategies do YOU use to stay more focused at work? Leave a comment below with your best practices!

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Find all my tips and knowledge about marketing, branding, and strategy here.

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It’s all about balance. Sometimes, you need to relearn how to play.

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