Flow

Last night I achieved flow. Wikipedia defines flow as “the mental state of operation in which a person in an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity”. Flow is that state of mind you’re in when you sit down to play a game or write some code and look up five minutes later to find that you just stayed up the whole night. Flow is to be truly focused.

I sat down last night to work on a tiny Javascript application designed to make basic financial projections. It’s not a huge project, only 112 lines of Javascript with a bit of HTML and CSS. I had sat down that night to fix an obvious bug in the main feature, calculating revenue over time. Four hours later I had rewritten the math twice, overhauled the CSS and added four new features.

I started the project (called RevenueCalculator) to get comfortable with Javascript and make some basic projections. I had not thought about releasing it or even continuing development after the core function of the application was working. At high numbers the results were very obviously wrong, so I set out to fix the problem. One thing led to the next and I eventually had an application that not only worked, but was a lot better than it used to be.

The application was originally for personal use only. I had a reason to write it; the project had personal value. I cared about having (somewhat) accurate results so it didn’t feel like a task I had to complete. Rewriting the code was something I wanted to do; it was fun. That’s the key to getting into the zone: making something YOU want to use. If the project has personal value you’ll want to make and improve it.

You can find the RevenueCalculator project on GitHub.

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