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Personal Development

How to be productive

Digital anthropologist Rahaf Harfoush explains how you can get into that flow state you need to produce your best work.

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March 07, 2021
3 min read

In today’s Braincare Clubhouse session, we explored the best methods for finding that flow state you need for producing your best work. Joining us in the room were:

  • Rahaf Harfoush: Digital anthropologist and bestselling author.

  • Dan Murray-Serter: Co-Founder of braincare company Heights, and host of our Braincare Podcast.

How do you do it?

Normally I ask people how they think and approach their creativity. Ask yourself, do you approach your creativity like a strategic tool, or is it something you count on showing up and need by extension? Ask yourself what you need to be most creative, what you want to create, and what your rhythms are (i.e are you more productive in the morning or night). 

  • Think about what you want to get accomplished ahead of time. Work backwards and see what you need to be done by the end of the week.

  • Carve out certain days where you allow no meetings and calls.

  • Put your important tasks first, and everything else around them.

  • That way, when you sit down on Monday morning, there is no mystery about what you need to be doing that day. 

Performance cycles 

Neuroscience tells us that you may only have a maximum of 3-4 hours of quality work in you a day. Having a clear sense of time is a creative performer's best friend. 

Everybody has a different creative cycle. I do tests called ‘performance cycles’ where I get people to time how long it takes them to get into flow, how long they can maintain flow, and then how much recovery they need. Some people need 30 or even 90 minutes to get into that state. Finding out the time you need is crucial for peak creative performance. 

Diet for brain health 

Nutrition is the answer for optimising your brain's health. Don’t eat a lot of sugar in order to avoid a sugar crash, and don’t have too much coffee. Having foods that are high in fats also help sustain the energy coming from your brain.

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Intangible thinking 

There is an entire part of the creative process that's intangible. If you’re struggling to work, you probably haven't done enough intangible thinking. You can’t do it when you’re exhausted, stressed, or in back-to-back meetings. That's the type of thinking you do when your brain wanders and you're cooking, gardening, or cleaning. Part of the process is to walk away from your computer and find inspiration somewhere else.

  • Open a blank document and write 2-3 sentences about what you hope to accomplish.

  • Minimise the document, and leave it alone for a few hours or days. Ideas pop up in your brain when you’re on a run, or walking your dog. This process helps to kickstart your brain into thinking about what you want to say. 

  • Part of the work process is providing time for your brain to think instead of stressing it in front of an empty page. 

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