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Day 20: Tools for Flow in Writing

Essay Full Text

As knowledge workers, we're constantly in search of the seemingly elusive flow state. Flow was popularized by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in the 2008 book entitled Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. Flow is the joyful state of total mind/body synchronization. For me, it feels like a softening of my heart and time standing still.

While it may seem like a flow state just happens, the conditions for flow are created.

In How to Take Smart Notes, SΓΆnke Ahrens suggests that the tools and method of the Slip-box, or Zettlekasten, are the tools necessary to create flow in writing. Ahrens stresses that the tool itself must remain simple so that your mind is only faced with complexity of content.

The basic tools you'll need must allow you to:

  • Keep track of what you read
  • Provide a simple organizational structure for your notes
  • Make connections between topics that are non-hierarchical
  • Clarify your thinking into permanent notes
  • Spark new ideas and insights and capture these back into the system

Once you have your tools in place, you must develop a habit of reading and note making using these tools.

Just as many knowledge workers have found "a mind like water" through the implementation of David Allen's Getting Things Done for productivity, the slip-box provides the same model of a flexible toolset for knowledge creation.

We need a reliable and simple external structure to think in that compensates for the limitations of our brain. Sonke Ahrens, How to Take Smart Notes, p 20

Using this process on a repeatable basis allows you to approach writing from a place of curiosity, interest and abundance - all conditions that are likely to allow you to enter flow.

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