The other day, I had the rare pleasure of going to a little bar/restaurant called Lil’ Frankies with friends from work. As a teacher and dad of two young children, I don’t get out much. I was a amazed that I could enjoy a place with purty looking drinks and food. At 4:30 p.m. I announced I had to go and return a library book. “Nerd Alert,” my friend chided. As I walked towards the library and home, the nerd alert approached def-con as I fantasized about–hold on tight–getting a new filing cabinet.
Anyone who has seen my apartment or even my man-bag would know I am not going to be your de-cluttering guru anytime soon. But what I am getting from my ongoing experience learning Japanese, writing, and guitar is that it’s really important to have tools and systems that catch your flow.
I want a decent and beautiful filing cabinet where I can easily organize my samurai notebooks and other projects, so that creating and remembering becomes even more systematic. I already have a plastic box where I have folders organized according to topics and by months and days. (This is an idea I got from Getting Things Done.) But I am ready to upgrade so the folders sit up right and the whole process of getting a folder out is smoother. I’m trying to minimize physical or mental resistance because the more organized my flow and capture systems are, the more I can create.
It’s important to “capture” ideas, money, and projects in ways that enhance the flow even more. It’s important to create systems but not be enslaved by those systems. Here are some examples of tools and processes I consider to be my “flow capture” systems
- Setting a timer for 15 minutes and writing even if I don’t have “anything to write” about every morning. It can change my whole day to create an idea where there wasn’t one just through this little move.
- Keeping a samurai mind notebook. Keeping a notebook with positive ideas. information, skill bits and reviewing regularly means that my circuitry is kicking around the ideas and questions that I want there.
- I have several automatic savings accounts for different purposes. Capture your financial flow and keep your finances in different “buckets.”
- I use surusu, an online spaced repetition flashcard system, to remember where I am in guitar. When I study something on jamplay.com, I create a card with a link to the lesson. When I don’t know “what to do” on guitar, I go to this deck and it takes me to the lessons either targeting or that I’ve forgotten about and could use a refresher.
Creating these systems may seem restrictive, but it actually frees you to play more. Suddenly, there you are with a guitar strapped around your neck because deciding what to practice isn’t this mental storm of self-hatred. The flashcard reminds you what to practice. You practice. Then you play. Just in case you are too serious to remember to play, you can make that part of your system. Part of why I enjoyed doing Silverspoon, a Japanese immersion service is that I would get reminders to just play–in Japanese. Play is the ultimate “capture system.” (Sounds severe, no? )
You have a flow. Catch the flow. Catch the rainbow!