Getting in the Flow

If you have seen or heard about flow-ish junk journals, creative flow, or flow lifestyle, you are probably more “with it” than me.

I found out about flow the old-fashioned way: through my kid.

Back Story

We were at the craft store. My daughter pointed to the magazine display and said, “Oh, there it is.”

“There what is?” I asked.

“You know, mom, Flow Magazine. It’s what started the flow journals that people are into now. They talked about it in your home magazine.”

Somehow, I missed that reference.

Not wanting to be late to the flow-ish junk journal party, (like I was with hygge) I decided to do some investigating to find out more about “flowing.”

Flow-ish Junk Journals Are Scary

When I searched “flow journal,” the results presented me with an array of YouTube videos about how to make “Flow-ish Junk Journals.”


For your sake, dear readers, I watched some of these videos.

I was horrified.

They may be a crafter’s dream, but these Flow-ish Junk Journals are a minimalist’s nightmare.

The journals had little to do with writing. They had a lot to do with scrap-booking supplies, glitter, sewing notions, doilies, and paper napkins.

The videos I watched didn’t illuminate any purpose for making “flow-ish junk journals.”

I gleaned that the bound collections of pictures, photos, art supplies, quotes, etc., are meant to inspire creation of art and artistic lifestyles.

There may have been a time in my life when these junk journals would have inspired me. That was then.

Now, streamlined, clean, tidy, and minimal inspires me.

Add lace, feathers, dyed macaroni, egg carton cups, doilies, and sequins, and I just feel claustrophobia and general anxiety.

To each their own, I guess.

However, creating art is certainly a result that can be accomplished through flow.

Did Flow Magazine Start the Flow?

cover of flow magazine
Flow Magazine is ” all about positive psychology, mindfulness, creativity and the beauty of imperfection. ” – Flow Magazine

First off, Flow Magazine began as a Danish publication. It is now published internationally, and the English version is what we saw displayed in the craft store.

Here’s its Facebook description:

Flow. A magazine that takes its time.
Celebrating creativity, imperfection, and life’s little pleasures.

– Flow Magazine INT @TheWorldofFlow

Flow (the magazine) features visual arts and artists, along with inspirational ideas for creativity. I like that.

A lot of the magazine’s illustrations bring to mind the kind of graphics used by Rifle Paper Company, or Anthropologie store products.

But, there’s a lot more to “flow,” than magazines or the graphic arts.

Flow Is Tangible Mindfulness

From what I’ve researched, flow is the state of mind wherein one achieves creativity and productivity that leads to a tangible result. You engage in a mental and physical “zone” that allows you to accomplish your goal(s).

Being “in the flow” means that you are completely focused on the task at hand, to the exclusion of external distractions; and you are progressing successfully at that task with just the right balance of challenge and mastery.

So, it isn’t just inspiration or absorption in a task. You also need tangible results to achieve flow.

For example, let’s say that you’ve been frustrated by the scratchiness of your comforter.

You think up an idea of sewing a cotton sateen panel onto the back of the comforter.

As you sew, you feel the surface of the panel and note how it has eliminated that scratchy feeling. The panel is progressing as you imagined it, and as you sew you are completely “in the moment” of producing a comforter that will keep you warm and comfortable.

You are experiencing success at the task, and not encountering frustrations in the process of creating the comforter. That’s because your sewing skills, and vision and goal of producing a “comfortable comforter,” are balanced.

You are in the flow.

What’s not to like about that?

It’s Ironic

Now, comes the irony. If you realize that you are “flowing,” you aren’t anymore. Why? Because, your cognizance is proof that you are not excluding external distractions.


Creating Your Own Flow

You don’t need to make or buy a flow-ish junk journal to take up the practice of flowing.

Think about what inspires you to create. Use that inspiration to accomplish a tangible goal.

The actual term “flow” was coined by positive psychologist Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi . He describes specific criteria that must be met for you to enter flow

– You must have clear goals and progress
– Your task must provide clear and immediate feedback
– You must be at the balance between the perceived challenges of the task at hand and your own perceived skills

For some, inspiring completion of a task may mean collecting mixed media samples that create a mood.

For example, a vision board of color samples, fabric swatches, photos, and drawings that evoke a memory or dream and create a conduit to a new work of art.

I think this is where the “flow-ish junk journal” idea comes from.

For others, carving out a time and physical space may be the conduit to flow.

For example, designating a time during the day in a personal space to be productive and focused on the task that is to be accomplished. This brings to mind a home/work office, man cave, or she shed.

But, none of these are requirements to achieve flow. They are aides in achieving it.

If you go back to Csíkszentmihályi’s criteria listed above, you shouldn’t need to buy anything to achieve flow. It’s much like the Beatles’ caution: Can’t Buy Me Love.

Can’t Buy Me Flow

Don’t run out and buy craft supplies. Even though that’s what the craft stores want you to do, and why they promote flow.

You know you’ve experienced flow, according to Csíkszentmihályi, when:

  • You have complete concentration on the task
  • You are keeping clarity of goals and rewards in mind and experience immediate feedback
  • You experience transformation of time (speeding up/slowing down of time)
  • The experience is intrinsically rewarding
  • The task is achievable for your skill level
  • There is a balance between challenge and skills
  • You lose self-conscious rumination
  • There is a feeling of control over the task

Flowing Is the Antithesis of Multi-Tasking

Most of us have experienced flow at one time or another. But, can we make it happen more often, or even regularly?

Csíkszentmihályi says yes.

In order to create flow, practice makes perfect. And the first, and essential requirement of practicing flow is to gain self-control.

You must learn to focus, and to shut out external distractions.

I think that this is especially difficult for those used to multi-tasking. In fact, flowing is the antithesis of multi-tasking.

Learn to focus on one task.

So, if you are like me, you’ve got a lot of mental work to do.

A New Year’s Resolution: Sooner Or Later, It Will Flow

There are other components that set the stage for achieving flow. You can read more about Csíkszentmihályi and his work here:

Finding Flow: 5 Steps to Get in the Zone and Be More Productive, by Jory MacKay

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: All About Flow & Positive Psychology , Positive Psychology Program

I think that achieving more flow is a respectable resolution for the New Year, don’t you?

Let’s explore more about the psychology of flowing together. And, let’s work to produce more via achieving mental flow.

Please share your ideas, comments, and other feedback. And look for more flowing ideas from ajoann in 2019!

Author: A. JoAnn

Here is where I share the beauty I find in everyday life; and the humor, too!

7 thoughts

  1. Keep us updated ?

  2. Ahh. For me to achieve flow, I should avoid multi tasking. Truthfully, I remember less when I do so. Focus on one achievable task makes more sense. Will look into more of this.
    Thanks for the info.

  3. Any time!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Very interesting and inspiring. Thanks for the work!

  5. Thanks, JLC! You keep me motivated.

  6. grandmajlc says:

    Interesting Post – I really enjoy many of your posts. Keep up the good work

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