I feel as, if not more, productive than when I was working. The only constraint I have on my day is to write a blog post. I also do about 30 minutes a day of searching for interesting people on Twitter to try and consciously break down my bubble. People I wouldn't normally hear from. The rest of the day comes free. I sometimes read. Sometimes walk. Sometimes run. Sometimes meet people. There is less of a grand plan than I was used to.
This is partly a response to Tim Minchin's idea of being 'Micro-ambitious'. An hour or two of writing a day adds up over the 20 months I have been doing it. By nibbling away, and adding space, I feel like I am able to get to better questions. One of my initial aims was to become a constant beginner. I don't like specialising. It forces me to choose in a world that is so complexly beautiful, any choice would be a lottery because of my large cloud of ignorance. By being a constant beginner, I can learn to get over the discomfort of feeling like an incompetent idiot. Perhaps enjoy the discomfort because it means I am learning. I can learn the humour and patience required to push through early barriers. I can always have lots of 'colleagues' struggling through similar issues to me. Comrades in arms who let me know I am not alone.
One of the things missing in some work is when we lose those one or two hours a day of being at the boundary of our skill and effort. Too little skill required creates boredom. Too much creates anxiety. If we are able to add flow, that point where we are doing something we love and it has our full concentration, then the engine really starts. Whether it is at the edge of going deep as as specialist, or wide as a beginner.
My flow has increasingly come from conversation with people. From listening to see how the way they see the world can enrich my view.
What are you doing when you are flowing? Do you do a little every day?