Being in a State of Flow – High Energy and Focused Productivity

Being in a State of Flow – High Energy and Focused ProductivityFLOW is used in two ways in our psychological lexicon. As go with the flow – relax, allow life/the universe to flow through you and as in the zone, a state of flow – a mental state of high energy and focused productivity and enjoyment in the process.

As I think of flow, I think of rivers, which illustrate both usages. My experience is of these rivers – the Yahara that flows lazily through my hometown in Wisconsin, the majestic Mississippi as it flows through Minneapolis, my home for 40 years, and the Cumberland that flows through Nashville where I lived for ten years. Each of these rivers flow freely in some parts of their length and are controlled by dams at points. Where there are dams, the water that is harnessed for a purpose before returning to a more placid flow again. The state of flow is rather like that.

How often do you feel “in the zone” or in a state of flow? For many of us, it is less frequent than we would like. The exciting thing is that we can in fact create it on demand by following some guidelines and practicing them!

This concept of flow was recognized and named in 1975 by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyl. This is how he described it in an interview with Wired Magazine: “The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.”

When you are in a state of flow, work becomes effortless. And it doesn’t just happen at work. You may get into the “flow” while you’re working on projects around the house or working on a writing or artistic project. No matter what you’re working on, “flow” can make you feel amazing… almost like you have a super power.

Attributes of Flow

Flow is a State Of Mind

“Being in the flow” is a state of mind. That means you control getting into it. Pay attention to what happens to your thinking, your feelings, and your surroundings when you get into the flow naturally. This will help you when it’s time to get in the flow on demand.

Your Energy Levels Are High

The next thing you’ll notice when you get into the flow state is that your energy is really high. You’ll be able to focus and make progress on whatever project you’re working on for a long time – until you’re either disrupted or exhausted.

You’re Highly Focused

The next big sign of being in the flow is that you are very focused. Tasks that usually take you hours, get done in half an hour. Email, social media, the phone, Netflix, or the pile of dishes in the sink suddenly aren’t the big distractions they usually present. You’re hunkered down, focusing on the task at hand with your blinders on.

You’re Having Fun

Last but not least you’re having a lot of fun when you’re in flow. It’s exhilarating and time is flying. Being focused and getting a ton done in a short amount of time makes you feel incredibly accomplished and proud. Endorphins start to kick in and you do feel a bit like a super hero.

How to Intentionally Get Into Flow

Flow does happen to us occasionally without our intention. It’s a wonderful gift. Even better, we actually can generate it on demand. Getting into a state of flow is a bit of a personal thing. It works a little differently for each of us because we are all motivated by different things and various factors help us get into the flow.


As noted at the beginning, your state of mind or MINDSET is key to this whole process. Getting into a state of  flow is mostly about getting out of your own way and allowing it to happen.

It’s important to not let yourself get distracted and to build your confidence that you can indeed become adept at getting yourself into the flow on demand. It will take practice – like any new skill.

Being motivated, inspired and excited about a project is perhaps the largest factor in getting into a state of flow. Spend a couple of minutes thinking about why you are doing this particular project. It may be a passion project of your own, an assigned work project, or even something you don’t necessarily want to do (filing taxes, perhaps?). Whatever it is, there is a reason why you are doing it. For things in the must-do category, find a stronger, more emotional reason to help you get motivated, stay focused and on task. What deeper benefits will you have from completing any of these items? As you proceed, keep reminding yourself of this inspiration.

Use Deadlines

Having a deadline can help you get into the flow because it forces you to cut out all distractions and gives your mind no choice but to focus on the task at hand. It may not be the most pleasant way to get into the flow, but it is frankly one of the most effective ways.

Give it a try. Pick a task. It can be something small and easy for practice. Then set yourself a deadline. If you can make it a real deadline all the better. For example, tell your friend that you can’t meet her for lunch until all the filing is done, or promise your kids to take them to the park in 30 minutes, but tell yourself that you have to finish writing the blog post you’ve been working on first.

In a future post I will address more about using this tool to enrich our life experiences. In the meantime, you may be interested in the most recent edition of the book that elevated this concept into popular culture:

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi  

I’m Carol Brusegar, author, photographer and curator of information. My focus is on gathering and writing on topics that enhance all our lives – regardless of our age. Topics include health and wellness, personal development, innovation and creativity, and a variety of helpful, practical tools and practices. I have a special interest in helping people over 50 years of age to create their 3rd Age – the next stage of their lives – to be the best it can be. 

Follow me on Twitter!     Follow me on Instagram!   Follow me on Pinterest!

 Follow me on Facebook!         Visit my Etsy Shop!



I remember the extensive spring cleaning that my mother always did. It included washing all the windows inside and out, washing curtains and drapes, special attention to the floors, airing out blankets, coats and other heavy winter things before storing them for the summer. Walls and baseboards were washed and any spiderwebs in corners of the ceiling that hadn’t been removed met their demise. And about the curtains – there was a time when there were lace curtains in the living room and dining room that had to be washed, starched and stretched dry on wooden frames with tiny sharp nails. Does anyone else have those memories?

Another part of the process was cleaning the front porch which had been closed to use for the winter and dust and grime had accumulated. When that was finished, we could again use it –  a real mark of spring and the anticipation of summer.

I have not carried on the tradition of seasonal cleaning in this way. Truth be told, I’m not that kind of housekeeper at all. The concept of spring cleaning, however, can be applied to our lives in productive ways.

Here are nine examples of spring cleaning tasks of this type for you to consider:

Take Stock

Before you start, take careful stock of how you are currently doing. Do you have goals? How are they going? Are there any areas of your life you’d like to change up? Taking stock of where you are will help you direct your energy where it’s needed.

 Clean Up Your Relationships

Do you have any toxic relationships? Maybe it is time to part ways with these people or modify the types and amount of time you spend with them. We all need people in our lives that cheer us up, lift us up or build us up.

Tidy Up Your Habits

Look at your habits and assess whether they are positive and helpful or not – or if you have fallen into some ruts that you want to get out of. Bad habits add up over time and cost you in the long run. Spring is a perfect time to build some new positive habits.

Clear Your Mind

In our busy lives, it’s so easy to end up with a lot of clutter in our heads. People, projects, work, and the events in our world all contribute. Three strategies that can be very effective in clearing your mind and helping you gain clarity and direction are brain dumps, journaling, and meditation. Learn how to most effectively do brain dumps here:

If you’d like to explore more about journaling and all the ways to use it effectively, here’s what I wrote about it:


Technology is great, but sometimes we need to unplug and live in the moment. You can take a social media sabbatical or break. You can choose a smaller number of platforms to be actively engaged. You can set time parameters for time spent on your devices. Any of these can free up time for person-to-person engagement, being more observant and connected to what’s around you, and reading more.

Refresh Your Fitness Routine

Do you have a fitness routine? Has it become boring or stale? Use spring cleaning time to consider a new exercise, sport, or activity that gets you excited – or at least is enjoyable – and fit it into your daily routine.

Springify Your Diet

Many of us fall into eating habits over the winter months that aren’t the best for us. We can’t continue to hide under big sweaters and coats, and we may be feeling sluggish and bloated. Clothes may not be fitting comfortably. This is a great time to look at what we’re eating and what additions and subtractions to make as we move into a new season. Experiment with a healthier diet that you can sustain and even enjoy. A total change is often not necessary. Try cutting out a few things and adding new ones.

Organize Your Workspace

This is almost real spring cleaning! Organizing your workspace is a great way to boost your productivity and get more excited about working in general. Make sure every item has its space and every space has a purpose. Put things that aren’t used regularly into drawers or closets to open your space – and remember where you put them (maybe even write it down)! Add some seasonal wall decor to brighten up the room. Add some candles with light, spring type scents here and in other parts of your home. There’s a great variety of seasonal scented candles here to choose from: Spring Scented Candles

Check Your Goals

We’re now into the second quarter of the year. Whether you meticulously set goals in January or have been sliding into the year with a less structured approach, this is a time to look at goals. A helpful tool is The 12 Week Year by Brian Moran and Michael Lennington. It’s a great approach to accomplishing what we wish in a much more manageable time frame.

Spring cleaning our homes is a worthy activity if it contributes to our overall wellbeing. Spring cleaning our life can be even more valuable and transformative. Look at the list of options, choose the ones that you want to start with and go from there. Happy Spring!


I’m Carol Brusegar, author, photographer and curator of information. My focus is on gathering and writing on topics that enhance all our lives – regardless of our age. Topics include health and wellness, personal development, innovation and creativity, and a variety of helpful, practical tools and practices. I have a special interest in helping people over 50 years of age to create their 3rd Age – the next stage of their lives – to be the best it can be.


Follow me on Twitter!     Follow me on Instagram!   Follow me on Pinterest!

Follow me on Facebook!         Visit my Etsy Shop!







Managing Your Energy is a Game Changer!

Manage EnergyMight managing our energy be even more important than managing our time?

There’s a common belief that we can do as much as we want to as long as we can fit it into our days. Often this is without considering the energy we have to do all those things. And if we run out of steam and don’t accomplish all we had managed to fit into our plans, we think we are lazy or ineffective.

Here’s an example that you may be able to relate to. A person commits to a new physical training program. Often, they will start out by identifying they want to get into better shape (so far so good). Next, they decide they are going to follow a training program that consists of 5 workouts a week, each lasting about an hour (oh dear). What’s more, is that they do this while eating less.

The reason they were probably out of shape is that they didn’t have the energy to commit to being more active in the first place. Being stressed and tired likewise caused them to want to eat more things that weren’t conducive to weight loss.

So now, they intend to go from that, to adding four hours (7 if you add driving to the gym, showering, and more) of exertion, while having less energy in the form of food to help power them through it!

Geez, why do you think that doesn’t work?

Why is Your Energy Zapped?

Running out of steam and feeling blah – having low energy – can be an indicator of an illness, injury, excess stress or being overextended. It makes sense when you are sick, hurt, or doing too much that your energy levels will fall. In these cases, rest, recovery, and taking some things off your plate can help you revive your energy.

There are also some less obvious reasons people have low energy. Believe it or not, low energy can happen when you are otherwise healthy, injury free, and aren’t overwhelmed. Here are three of them.

Reason #1 – You aren’t living your best life. This is true of many of us during these years of the pandemic. So much has changed, so much is still uncertain. If we aren’t setting and achieving milestones, it can zap our energy. Underachievement can cause boredom, depression, anxiety, and a sense of hopelessness. We may not have new measures for milestones in a life changed in many ways.

Reason #2 – You aren’t spending time with the right people. With our social interaction restricted in the past two years, we may be spending more time with those who complain, gossip, are sad, etc. Or we are spending a great deal of time alone or with the same small circle. This really drains our energy and leaves us feeling down and unmotivated.

Reason #3 – Your growth is stunted. Many of the things that stretch us have not been part of our daily lives as much lately.  We may be out of atmospheres where we are constantly learning and stimulated by work and social interaction. Much of our focus has been making things work, adapting to difficult situations. True, this does require creativity; but it tends to be focused more on survival than transformation. Narrow rather than expansive.

Managing Your Energy

Generally speaking, humans need to eat, drink, sleep, and have a sense of purpose for optimal health. Outside of those guidelines, we are all unique. Our energy comes from the nuanced aspects of our preferences and what gives us joy. Your mind and body are connected and will indicate through reactions what things bring you more energy and get you excited about life. Pay attention to the cues and learn to read them so you can maximize your unique brand of energy.

Look at your activities in all aspects of your life.  They can rev up your energy or deplete it. Your unique personality lends itself to certain activities and finds very specific things exciting and energizing. Engaging in extracurricular activities that stimulate our minds and create a sense of wonder boost our energy. Your unique personality might need more or less activity to feel stimulated and emotionally satisfied.

Try out a variety of activities and pay attention to how you feel. See where your passions lie and how you react when you engage in meaningful activities. Allow yourself plenty of options for fun and don’t limit yourself from trying new things.

This is a great time to engage in some of this exploration of what energizes you. It’s an individual thing. What gives me energy may drain yours. As you explore, be sure to keep notes or journal so you capture what you are experiencing and learning.

Managing your energy can be a game-changer. As you learn and practice more, you are able to manage your life and aspirations better. It’s a worthwhile pursuit!

Here’s a great resource: Manage Your Energy Not Your Time

It includes ways to manage your mental, psychological and emotional energy. Check it out!


I’m Carol Brusegar, author, photographer and curator of information. My focus is on gathering and writing on topics that enhance all our lives – regardless of our age. Topics include health and wellness, personal development, innovation and creativity, and a variety of helpful, practical tools and practices. I have a special interest in helping people over 50 years of age to create their 3rd Age – the next stage of their lives – to be the best it can be.


Follow me on Twitter!     Follow me on Instagram!   Follow me on Pinterest!

                                    Follow me on Facebook!         Visit my Etsy Shop!


Many of our habits, routines and rituals have changed over the past two years as we adapted to the reality of the pandemic. They may have changed repeatedly. As we move forward again, it is an ideal time to look at how we can adapt or create these practices for our current situations.

Habits, routines and rituals are related but distinct practices that can be formed and nurtured to simplify and enhance our lives. The more aware and intentional about them we are, the more effective they can be. Note: There is a flip side too! We can easily fall into habits, routines and rituals that are negative or more of a rut. Identifying the negatives and ruts and strategies for breaking out of them is a separate topic. The focus of this article is to look at these practices and how to use them effectively.

What Makes Them Helpful?

Why are positive habits and routines so helpful to us? It has to do with our brain capacity. Did you know that we all have a finite number of decisions that we can make in any given day? You may have noticed that it gets harder to make decisions toward the end of the day. Habits and routines help reduce the number of decisions we have to make and thus free brain space for more creative and productive thinking and also reduce daily stress.


It’s hard to argue that humans are indeed “creatures of habit.” Habits are necessary for us to navigate our lives successfully. Think of all the things you do by habit – things you do repeatedly and automatically, often almost involuntarily or unconsciously. Brushing your teeth morning and night, adjusting the thermostat as you head for bed, getting your morning coffee, turning on the morning news show on television, or whatever your particular automatic actions may be. Something triggers you – also likely subconsciously – and you take that action.


And then there are routines. Often the two are confused or used interchangeably. They are however distinct. Routines are a series of habits or activities that you combine for specific parts of the day or certain repeat situations. For example, the things you do between the time you awaken each morning and the time you are settled into your work, home or school activity for the day. Or your fitness or exercise routine. Or a writing routine if you are a writer/journaler. Or a study routine for students. You may have different routines for weekend days than weekdays.

Routines require more intention and effort to complete than simple habits. The series of things you do each morning may or may not actually be a routine. They may just be a series of actions that you take, not necessarily in the same order each day, maybe adjusting freely depending on circumstances. Or it actually may be a routine that has a sequence that you don’t change, in a firm timeline. Doing this gives you satisfaction and a launch for the rest of the day. If that is upset, your day doesn’t start well.

What are the routines that will be most helpful for you right now? Are there changes in what you are doing that will enhance your life?


Sociologist Robert Wuthnow says, “rituals are any actions or events that have symbolic meaning beyond their instrumental value.” These meanings can be personal or collective and expressed alone or with others. They also have some unique characteristics. As Gustava Razzetti says in his Fearless Culture blog:   “A ritual is a sequence of activities  that are performed in a particular place and according to a set progression.  A ritual must have a clear beginning, middle, and end.”

Many of us have experienced religious rituals – the pattern of a regular service or gathering, a specific liturgy, sacraments such as baptism and holy communion. Both faith and other types of groups have rituals for particular times of the year. For example, I’ve been part of a burning bowl ritual on New Year’s Eve to burn the bits of paper on which each person has written what they want to leave behind from the previous year. Clubs and civic groups have rituals to begin and end meetings, how new members are added, and more. These are intended to solidify belonging and group identity.

We may have family rituals around family meals or holiday meals, how we put beloved pets to rest, how certain milestone birthdays are celebrated.

Individual rituals are used by many performers and athletes to prepare for an event or appearance. They are all intended to get the person into the right mindset/frame of mind to be able to perform their very best.

Creating rituals is a life-enhancing process that we can all participate in. The disconnection that we have all experienced during the years of the pandemic has made us more aware of ways we connected with others and how much we have missed them. This awareness is an impetus for many people and groups to recover, reinvent or create rituals as we move forward.

Elements of Ritual to Enhance Routines

You can also add an element of ritual to some routines to provide meaning and focus. Picking up a specific pen is a signal to you that you are beginning your writing routine. Putting it away is the end of that meaningful session. Putting on your best walking/running shoes or a particular baseball hat is a signal to begin your walking or running routine.

Such actions become triggers and motivators. Even if you aren’t feeling very much like doing the routine, taking that action can get you started without the mental conflict or feeling the need to engage great will power. Once established, it becomes a key to opening up that experience every time. And that helps you do the things you want to do with more ease.

Habits, routines and rituals are tools that we can use in many areas of life. They are especially helpful as we experience change, external and internal – as we all have in the past two years. As I researched and wrote this article, my interest in learning more grew. There are so many dimensions to be explored. If you also are intrigued with the possibilities, I recommend checking out these books:

Atomic Habits  by James Clear  Atomic/atom-sized/tiny habits to change many aspects of life are the focus of this book.

Daily Routine Planner  Use this planner including worksheets to create routines for all parts of the day and more.

The Power of Ritual  by Casper Ter Kuile.  Learn how to turn everyday activities into intentional rituals that will nurture your soul and transform life.


I’m Carol Brusegar, author, photographer and curator of information. My focus is on gathering and writing on topics that enhance all our lives – regardless of our age. Topics include health and wellness, personal development, innovation and creativity, and a variety of helpful, practical tools and practices. I have a special interest in helping people over 50 years of age to create their 3rd Age – the next stage of their lives – to be the best it can be.


Follow me on Twitter!     Follow me on Instagram!   Follow me on Pinterest!

Follow me on Facebook!         Visit my Etsy Shop!