I spent over 20 years writing and producing music for Film and Television as a founder of Grayson Matthews. As we grew I was overseeing a large team of composers and sound designers. We were so deadline driven beholden to broadcast dates and clients demands. It put pressure on us all to be creatively efficient. Give me a hit song and do it in exactly 6 hours!
"As creators and artists you all know how impossible it is to predict exactly when your artistic effort will be complete let alone perfected. But over the years you get very good as creating with inconceivable speed and efficiency while taking advantage of modern tools and software."
The one tool that we never seemed to pay enough attention to is our mind and body. As those demands have increased...
we have typically just pushed our bodies and minds to the limits by working longer hours, neglecting sleep, mismanaging our diets and stealing time away from taking important healing practices that help regenerate our capacity and energy to perform.
“I have a deadline that I have to meet so I’ll stay up all night to get it done” makes sense on our minds but in my experience a good night sleep allows you to do an hour of effective work, once you have rested, that’s equivalent to about 5 hours of work in the middle of the night! But most of us still choose to grind out the hours thinking that it’s the best use of our time. Knowing what I know now, optimizing this super computer, your mind and body, is the fastest and most rewarding way to achieve the huge creativity and productivity demands we’ve placed on ourselves and those placed on us by the industries we work in.
A Little Lesson in Science
You have to go back to your Science class to remember that 'time' is a finite variable while 'energy' is infinite. We are all gifted with the same amount of time. There are always 24 hours in a day, no more no less. But energy on the other hand, is the resource that flows abundantly and the one that we can learn to access more of. There is plenty of extra energy to access, an infinite amount to be exact. Most of us are leaving a lot of that energy on the table. We have to learn to recognize when we are in our peak energetic states and when and why our energy is seemingly low - and no I'm not talking about coffee and sugar consumption. It's a process of being aware and using our intuitive sense to recognize those different states and connecting them to the specific thoughts or activities we are engaged in. Adding some good energy and vitality building practices to your daily and weekly routines will unlock way more potential and productivity then trying to squeeze out more melodies and mixes in a 24 hour day.
Good daily energy practices are designed to maintain an even keel mental state because your state of mind will dictate your energy levels. What do I mean? How many times have you been working on a creative task while distracted thinking about something stressful in your life? This is typically holding you back from getting into a great flow as it constantly interrupts you're creative thoughts with those of worry and anxiety. Being able to manage those thoughts and stressors or "energy suckers" allows more uninterrupted creative flow that helps you tap into your true creative potential. Luckily we are in an era where we have an immense scientific understanding about how the body and mind functions and with that understanding has come a wealth of practices, technologies and tools from companies and individuals designed to help us manage negative thoughts and stress, harness more energy on a daily basis and thereby supercharging our abilities and performance.
How Do We Get More Time by Accessing More Energy?
Let’s do a little thought experiment to demonstrate how we do the seemingly impossible trick of getting more time by accessing more energy. Do you get overcome with the thought of not having enough time or the worry of running out of time? If you could freeze time would it be easier to reach your goals? Hell ya! You could chill out on a beach and always have time to rejuvenate yourself before tackling the next challenge right? You wouldn’t worry that you were running out of time, worrying about how to make more money, or how to build a career that you really want right? Because you’d have all the time in the world! Can you think back to an experience where you forgot about time- a situation where you lost track of time? Where time was not on your mind? When you are fully engaged in an activity leveraging all your senses and in a state of joy or happiness time tends to vanish. You can get lost for hours. Think about those moments when you are working on a creative idea or solving a problem and you can't stop. When you finally do you are dumbfounded by the amount of time that has surpassed. This is known as a flow state, where you are in a state of hyper focus and space and time bend to your advantage.
In positive psychology, a flow state, also known colloquially as being in the zone, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by the complete absorption in what one does, and a resulting loss in one's sense of space and time.
This is what we want to get more of everyday. We need to balance those “beach breaks” with work throughout our day. This means more energy and flow. More flow means more focus. More joy, More fulfillment and hence more energy. In this state we can accomplish more of the things we are abundantly capable of because we are more energy than we are physical beings locked in time and space. Let’s learn to get more flow!
One of the masters of understading flow is best selling author Steven Kotler founder of the Flow Research Collective. Without diving into too much into his study and understating of flow states, I will pull out a few stats on the researched backed understanding of how we benefit from being in flow.
In flow, you are 500% more productive; you acquire skills 490% faster; creativity increases 400 to 700% and you are 430% better at creative problem solving. This means if you spend all of Monday in a flow state, you would be as productive as an entire week not spent in one. You could go to work one day a week, or you could crush the competition five-fold.
For a deeper dive into human potential and performance and the concepts I talk about, watch Kotler and his fascinating and eye opening overview of Flow States.
Getting into flow states starts with having a foundation of good mind and body practices. Check out my quick overview on the 11 Ways to Manage Stress and Anxiety while boosting Creativity and Energy.