Checklists

One prerequisite to be in a state of flow while working is to have good clarity on the goal and get immediate feedback. Being in such a state feels like you are on auto-pilot, you lose your perception of time and a feeling of calmness fill in you. Depending on the nature of the task, context and urgency you can convert parts of your workflow into chunks of flow-inducing work. Checklists provide an easy way to put you into such a state even for tasks that are repetitive. Checking of an item from the list kicks off a short dopamine loop in your that propels you to keep at it.

Another key aspect of being in a state of flow is that the tasks should be bordering on your existing capabilities making the task at hand challenging. Not too easy. Not too hard. Hence, tasks that fulfill the following characteristics would be ideal:

  • Repeatable on a high level but are nuanced each time
  • Recur over time
  • Hands-on nature
  • Require attention down to the details

Today’s productivity apps like Todoist, Things all try to delight you with the satisfaction that they get when you check things off a list. In a small way, that too is immediate feedback for you.

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