Reslife Recommends: Repetitive Beats, Flow States and Productivity.
“The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times… The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.”– Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Whilst trying to study what makes us really happy in everyday life or ‘Flow, The Secret of Happiness’, Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi decided to study creatives, artists and scientists, as he was ‘trying to understand what made them feel that it was worth essentially spending their life doing things for which many of them didn't expect either fame or fortune, but which made their life meaningful and worth doing.’.
Csikszentmihalyi discovered that when creating fluidly the artists:
‘enters that different reality. Now he says also that this is so intense an experience that it feels almost as if he didn't exist. And that sounds like a kind of a romantic exaggeration. But actually, our nervous system is incapable of processing more than about 110 bits of information per second. And in order to hear me and understand what I'm saying, you need to process about 60 bits per second. That's why you can't hear more than two people. You can't understand more than two people talking to you. Well, when you are really involved in this completely engaging process of creating something new, as this man is, he doesn't have enough attention left over to monitor how his body feels, or his problems at home. He can't feel even that he's hungry or tired. His body disappears, his identity disappears from his consciousness, because he doesn't have enough attention, like none of us do, to really do well something that requires a lot of concentration, and at the same time to feel that he exists. So existence is temporarily suspended. And he says that his hand seems to be moving by itself.’
After realising that many creatives had similar shared experiences where the creativity seemed to ‘flow out’ Csikszentmihalyi decided to coin this ‘flow experiences’ or ‘flow states’.
How Can We Trigger Flow States?
The Personal Growth Lab writes that a ‘Flow state is a very powerful state of mind where you are extremely productive and also feel great. You don’t have to force yourself to work hard. Rather, it seems to go automatically. It seems as if you are ‘flowing’ through your work.’
Above is a graph of ideal conditions for flow state, as designed by Csiksgentmihalyi (figure from https://www.researchgate.net)
If flow states are so beneficial to productivity and creativity then how can we hack into them? Roomer for PGL goes on to write that there are certain triggers for accessing ‘flow states’. To be able to access flow, you must eliminate internal and external distractions that prevent you from accessing flow. Along with this, you must work in your BPT (biological peak time) this ensures you are stimulated enough and have enough energy to be your most productive.
Another way to trigger flow states, and perhaps arguably the easiest, is listing to the right kind of music. Listening to music with repetitive beats like, techno, house, electronica or even classical music can block out both external and internal noise helping you concentrate on the activity at hand. It’s important though that there aren’t too many vocal samples on these beats as that will require more energy to fight off distractions.
It’s known that listening to classical music whilst revising can help you retain certain information, imagine if you did that regularly, how much more information you would retain?
We wanted to test this out, so Lauren has suggested some spotify playlists of ‘repetitive beats’ for you to listen to whilst working to help you access those flow states!
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