FLOW (and a dude’s name you can’t pronounce)


I have the attention span of a shrew. Sometimes at night (when I’m tooling away on my laptop) my wife asks questions and inevitably gets mad at me.

Wife: Are you gonna fix the air conditioning this weekend?

Me: Yes

Wife: Are you even listening to me?

Me: Yes

Wife: Are you going to drown yourself in the bathtub tonight?

Me: Yes

Wife: (disgruntled) You’re not listening to me.

Me: Yes

…and then I get in trouble and my concentration gets broken.

This isn’t a bad thing. A researcher at the University of Chicago (where I got my M.S. in Computer Science) wrote a book about “Flow” and how you simply lose track of time when you are deeply engaged in something you really like. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (I know you can’t pronounce that) contends that our perception of happiness is intimately tied to how frequently we experience this “flow” state. He is right.

I’ve found I can achieve a “flow” state in only a couple circumstances: (1) programming, (2) exercise, (3) micturating, and (4) ignoring my wife. <j/k honey>

If you are into programming, you know the experience – time just passes by and you are totally engaged. My management thought on this: schedule meetings either for the early morning or the absolute end of the day. Let your people have as many uninterrupted hours as possible. If you can’t do that, encourage them to ignore you.

Wise Man Say, “Don’t Interrupt Flow.”

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