There was an article in the Sunday Times last weekend about the perils of multi-tasking and how important it was to find a flow or ‘optimal experience’. It got me thinking about how this constant multi-tasking can potentially take you away from reaching your full potential. A typical day for me consists of emails and letters to politicians for the Animal Welfare Group, emails and perhaps a meeting on social care funding or something similar for my councillor duties, a hour at the gym, cooking, cleaning up the kitchen, walking the dogs, a bit of internet shopping, writing a blog post, catching up with friends and perhaps going into London for a meeting. It is broken up into lots of different things – I check my emails on the crosstrainer for god’s sake and just doing that means I am not fully present in my training. At night I still do emails whilst watching a TV programme from the corner of my eye whilst eating my dinner! I would guess that many of you out there do the same and are possibly balancing it all with a family too.

The flow is about the one activity that sparks your motivation and makes you feel alive and full of potential. It is something that is truly worthwhile to you as an individual and makes you focus to intently that everything else including the need to clean the kitchen floor and make the dinner is forgotten. It is a feeling with top athletes and the best actors and musicians will experience during their performances. For me it is writing but I have not been in a place where I can write an decent fiction for over 5 years because my brain is too scattered and if I do sit down to write I cannot stop thinking about other mundane things that need to be done.

The article pointed out that as children we naturally find this flow, we become absorbed in play with every ounce of concentration on the activity whether colouring in or building a lego castle.

T`o find your flow you need to get in touch with your passion – what were your interests before ‘life’ intervened and earning a living took over? As a pre-teenager was it painting or dancing, sewing or running? This time was before you were so influenced by all the other demands you now face and so it will represent that true free self. ¬†Once you have found that true interest you can begin to weave it into your life with an hour a week where you clear everything out of the way and concentrate fully with no guilt on the activity. Make it a Sunday afternoon so work calls and emails cannot interrupt – get the gym, cleaning and food shopping done in the morning. An hour will not be enough to find flow but it is a start and then perhaps extend it to 2 hours.

The result of this dedicated time should generate a powerful and positive feeling afterwards which you can then return to when you feel stressed or overstretched. Fundamentally it should allow you to start to feel in control again and not at the mercy of chores, duties and responsibilities all the time.