How to foster creativity with flow

Flow at work, at the surf office

If you live in a developed country chances are your job requires creativity to be performed. Most of us are paid to solve problems, either complex ones like how to add a new metro line for the city, or trivial ones like choosing the right the paper cup color for the office Christmas party. 

Either way, problem-solving thinking makes use of the most energy consuming device we humans have: the brain. We were designed to survive and solve only those problems that threatened our existence, and save energy when not in danger.

Our gray matter was not created with today’s kind of challenges in mind.

Today we are forced to make a thousand choices and solve gazillions of tiny problems each day, forcing our problem-solving-machine to work like crazy. Imagine trying to use your car to get to the moon and you’ll picture what we are doing to our poor brains nowadays with this lifestyle.

We were not designed to use our body or mind that way, and if our intention is to continue doing so, we need to put systems in place to allow our internal machinery to work like a well-greased one.

I’m going to tell you what system has worked throughout history for the most creative people: flow. This is a state of mind where most of the amazing things in life happen, but today we are only going to analyze how it affects creativity. 

Flow has different stages we have to go through if we want to experience its benefits, it has not an ON/OFF switch. This means you can’t be in or out but on one of the stages at a time. We must change from one phase to the next in order to be in flow, because this shifting is part of the process. Like a game, where the whole process is about completing levels, flow requires us to finish each one before going to the following.

Our brains were designed to work in a very specific fashion and we should obey its natural set of cycles if we want to make the most out of it, staying in flow.

Skip one of the cycles and flow and creativity will be replaced by a gray cloud of useless thoughts. Pretend you do not need to stop and can endure a few more hours of grinding and prepare to say goodbye to flow. We have to ditch work and do something else when our body asks for it if we want to foster creativity. We will go back to work by the time we are on the proper stage.

Creativity fostering

Fostering creativity with flow at The Surf Office

That “else” after some work done should be, ideally, a physical activity you have some skills to perform, where your mind is no longer focused on solving a problem, but on the now. It would be superb if this exercise could turn off all the noise in your head so you can devote all the brainpower to be present, flushing all that crap that has been filling where your thoughts should. 

Surf has all the ingredients for the above recipe. It is an activity that has several flow triggers, meaning it will be really easy to keep your mind in the proper stage before and after  It might sound counter intuitive, but any overachiever that has tried to ditch work for some hours and go surfing is surprised at how the sport is able to increase their focus, boost creativity and improve performance.any task that makes use of your problem-solving machinery.

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A one-hour surf session will do wonders, no matter your level. If you’re afraid of waves just tell your local surf school and they will guide and take care of you. 

Creativity is a huge competitive advantage, and corporations around the world are aware of the impact flow has on their annual balance. Some of them are hiring the services of companies like The Surf Office, where they put their employees on a surfboard as part of their duties and are getting higher levels of engagement, happiness, and productivity among those involved in this program.

If your company is not on one of these programs, you can still do it on your own. Creativity is not made out of thin air, it must be fostered. Go surf, get creative!

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