I’ve been a fan of Wu-Tang clan since I used to rock M-E-T-H-O-D Man on cassette driving to high school in my little white Honda Accord.
Recently, I heard about RZA’s “Guided Meditations” collaboration with Tazo Tea—designed to help creatives tap into and release their creative energy.
As I’m writing this, I’m literally sitting in the library listening to it for the first time. And in the track, “Fan Your Flames,” he said something that made me STOP writing my goals statements down (something I try to do every day) and start this post.
He said that he and Wu grew up on Staten Island away from and isolated from the rest of the music scene in NYC. Because they didn’t have direct access to the people, music, and vibe coming from Da Bronx, The BK, and other parts of NYC, he said that they had to develop their own sound.
He said that without that isolation—without being on that island—they would have sounded like everyone else. (I’m going to explore that in another post)
RZA went on to say that even though he is no longer in that Staten Island basement—he can still “summon the island.” No matter where he is or what’s going on around him, he can still mentally put himself in space to tap into the creativity that led Wu-Tang to be one of the top rap groups of our time.
This is very similar to what psychologists then productivity experts refer to as “flow state.” Flow state (also known colloquially as “being in the zone”) is
the mental state in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.
The easiest ways to get in your flow state is to create rituals that trigger your brain that it’s time to go to work.
It’s a lot easier to “summon your island” or enter flow state when it’s your ideal time. This will vary from person to person and may even change as seasons of life change.
Since I can remember, I’ve been a night owl. They say stuff like this is not genetic—but I totally believe I inherited this trait from my mom, grandmother, and aunt—all of whom are/were night owls.
I tried the early morning routine and all it left me was unproductive and irritable LOL. But when I work later in the evening, I summon my island and find my flow state a lot easier.
In order to truly summon your island, I believe you have to do what you do, not what others do (or suggest you should do).
I started this post on one of my islands—the library. I’m writing this particular part of the post on my favorite island—a particular local coffee shop. It’s not Starbucks (gasp), but it’s my favorite because it’s open until midnight 6 days a week. And for someone whose “peak island summoning” time is after the street lights come on, this makes it one of my favorites.
Part of summoning your island is for your brain to associate a place with your getting to work. And as much as humanly possible, try to work in that same place—especially when you want to do focused work. Whether it’s at your kitchen table, that certain spot on the sofa, or a coffee shop—make the space you work in part of summoning your island.
In his book, Tools of Titans, Tim Ferris says that he listened to the SAME ALBUM THE ENTIRE TIME he was writing that book. He said it got to the point that just cuing up the music caused him to enter his flow state.
I can absolutely attest to music and playlists helping you summon your island. I’m currently on my second listen of Beyoncé’s “Homecoming” album. As soon as I hear, “Coachella…you ready?” My brain is like, “yep—let’s go to work.” And whether it’s planning content or writing a blog post (like I’m doing now), I almost immediately enter a flow state. And even though this album has singing and lyrics—I hear it, but then I don’t. I just know that the sounds of this album means it’s time to work.
Part of being in flow state is doing challenging, but not too challenging, work. That keeps you engaged without being anxious. Trying to tackle everything on your to do list will certainly make you anxious and make it harder to summon your island. Be gracious with yourself and choose what you can reasonably accomplish in your “summon your island” time. For instance, finishing this post was one of the 2 things that I wanted to accomplish during this time (I’ve already completed the other).
I’m sure you’re not surprised I recommend caffeine. Caffeine can help you enter your flow state and stay there and be more focused. However, you may be wondering if I drink coffee since I work at night. Nope. I drink one cup of Starbucks earlier in the day. But when I want to “summon my island” at night, I drink hot tea. My two favorite islands are coffee shops that serve amazing teas.
Our brains are made of 75% water—so staying hydrated and drinking water is important to enter and maintain a productive flow state. When we don’t drink enough water we are sluggish and less productive. My water consumption has been off lately and my body is like “Girl.” So I fill my favorite water bottle before I leave the house and all of my island spots have places to refill my bottle. Yes, I have to use the bathroom, but regular breaks are also important to maintain productivity too LOL.
Finding your flow state and summoning your island will help make you feel your happiest, and most productive and creative. Share in the comments what you do to enter your ideal flow state or let me know if you use any of the tips above the next time you want to do focused work.
Adeea R. Rogers, known as The Trendy Socialite, believes her calling is to help empower others to develop and pursue their purpose. And as a result, she is known as “The Purpose Pusher.” Adeea seeks to equip others with the motivation and tools necessary to create and design the life they want. Adeea believes in creating the change you want to see through creating events, communities and movements. She created International Natural Hair Meetup Day (INHMD), giving women around the world the opportunity to guide each other in their natural hair journeys. In July 2015, she co-founded Black Biz Live, a community-based initiative where black owned businesses are featured on livestream platforms. Adeea’s perspective on living a purposeful life, personal branding tips, and content marketing ideas, cause her to be a sought-after event host, workshop facilitator, speaker and panelist. She also hosts a podcast, The Trendsetters Podcast. Adeea has a profound love for three things: Her Savior, Jesus Christ, Starbucks, and Statement Jewelry.