Fight Against The Flow

This is a personal rant. I’ll admit it right off. This is Erin Ogden’s opinion, and I am oddly overly vehement about it. The topic? Flow state.

What?! Yeah. Flow state. Read or listen to any productivity how-to and it will tell you about the magical state of “flow.” You must reach it. It is a wondrous place where every light is green, every library book is available for check out, and every size is in stock. If you set up your desktop, play the correct music, wear the correct underpants, and you can reach this mystical place.

And if you don’t, nothing will work. Life is grey drudgery. Everything comes with a 50 pound cartoon weight. And it is your fault. Buy better crystals and energy drinks.

Again and again and again I hear of all the ways I should set up to be in flow, strive to attain flow, celebrate the attainment of flow. My flow wizard status is only a stack of papers to the left a half inch away.


I’m not going to say that flow isn’t real. It is. It is lovely when you are working and things seem to be clicking. Things finally align and get done. But I refuse to buy into the magical descriptions. You can be “in flow” and still hit a speedbump. It’s OK. It’s OK if you don’t find hours of “effortless, miraculous, energized” work where you are “brilliant, happy, elated, clear, and have a tremendous sense of calm.” All of those are in a description of flow that I just read. It’s OK if you just feel like your time was fulfilled.

Then there are 1000 ways to “set yourself up for flow.” It always seems like if you just X, Y, and Z, you can be magical. And if you don’t flow, then you clearly don’t have a clean enough desk or chakras.

All in all, it feels like there is a lot of expectations and pressure for the attainment of flow. My experience has been this: Set up time to work. Then start. Best if you can mise en place so you aren’t searching for that data set that you knew that you were going to need. It may find you. Or it won’t. Doesn’t matter because when you go for a run, sometimes you get a runner’s high, sometimes not. But you got out for a run. And that’s awesome in and of itself.

Thanks, Erin