Do you want to be more productive at home, work, and beyond?
Are you looking for practical ways to go with the flow of life when things don’t turn out as expected?
We all know that going with the flow is much, much easier than going against the flow.
This holds true for small seeds carried by a fast-flowing streams, large ships going out with the tide, and even our daily work.
But as smooth and effortless going with the flow is, well, we don’t always make the most of those moments when we are in the flow.
We unwittingly put up our defenses, resist every single step of the way, and basically make things more difficult for ourselves.
The good news is that you don’t have to struggle or constantly feel like you’re fighting an uphill battle.
You just need to know how to appropriately go with the flow and make the most out of unexpected situations.
In this post, I offer four practical tips to help you go with the flow of life.
When you use these tips, you may find that you actually accomplish more than if you resisted certain actions.
The Flow of Life: Why You Should Go Along for the Ride
Going with the flow seems completely natural in theory. It’s the easy way to solve a problem, come to a conclusion, or travel to a destination.
But let’s face it: in practice, going with the flow can be extremely, extremely uncomfortable. It forces us to temporarily let go of our previously planned tasks, to-dos, projects, and goals, and just, well, roll with it.
As uncomfortable as it may be, going with the flow can help you stress less, be more productive, and be more accepting of those times and situations when things don’t go as planned (and we all know things often don’t go as planned).
While it may not seem like it at first, going with the flow often takes on a completely different appearance in hindsight.
Going with the flow can help:
- Stimulate creativity. You have to think creatively and come up with different solutions to problems and situations.
- Change your perspective. Seeing things from a different angle can open up worlds of possibilities when it comes to the most mundane of tasks.
- Encourage relaxation. Going with the flow can give you a much-needed break from the daily grind. In some ways, it can almost be like a mini-vacation.
- Cultivate a sense of appreciation. You may gain a better appreciation for and truly celebrate those times when your plans go off without a hitch.
So, are you ready to go with the flow? Here are five practical ways for you to do just that:
Take newly-found free time for yourself.
The situation: You’ve got a one-on-one meeting scheduled for later in the day. You receive an email or text from your contact. They need to reschedule your meeting. What should you do with your newly-found time?
The solution: Use this free time to destress and relax.
In the situation above (and ones like it), it’s not uncommon for people to rejoice at their good fortune…and promptly fill it with more work. It’s a perfectly common gut reaction, but what if you simply went with the flow and used this newfound time for yourself?
Why not view this free time as a gift? You weren’t expecting this delicious surprise…so why not indulge yourself and really make the most of it? This is a perfect opportunity for you to take a break, gather your thoughts, and center yourself. You can relax, destress, and savor this rare treasure in all it’s glory.
Yes, it may be difficult to resist the siren song of your work, but you should do yourself a favor, and simply slow down. Remember, gifts like these don’t always come often.
How can you make the most of this time? How can you savor going with the flow of with a newly-created empty schedule?
Openly embrace improvisation.
The situation: You’re getting ready to leave for a business trip or vacation. You’re busy packing up all of your necessary belongings and materials. You’re halfway to your destination when you realize you forgot an important items. It’s too late to turn back. What should you do?
The solution: Calmly accept what’s happened and promptly find a creative solution.
Sure, you could become frustrated, angry, and upset with yourself. But having a sour attitude isn’t going to help you move forward. Once you recognize your mistake, you should go with the flow and calmly accept it. There’s not much you can do back home or at the office. But what you can do where you are…ah, that’s where the genius lies!
Get in the habit of planning for what you can…and then improvising later. Having this mindset when traveling or dealing with unfamiliar territory can set you up for success. You’ve prepared as best you can, and you’re ready and willing to deal with whatever’s going to come up.
Instead of holding a grudge against your misfortune, get creative! Stop looking for the silver bullet (i.e. the solution you wish you had) and open your eyes up to what’s around you. What tools, resources, or materials do you have on hand? Can you request the assistance of others? How can you use elements found in your immediate environment?
Embrace spontaneity every once in a while.
The situation: It’s Friday night and you have plans for a quiet night in. Your best friend calls you on the phone and asks you if you want to go to a local concert with him. He’s won VIP complimentary tickets and has invited you along to the show. You wouldn’t mind reading your new novel, but you’re secretly curious about the concert, and you haven’t seen your friend in several weeks. What should you do?
The solution: Scratch your original plans and get ready for a fun night out.
As much as we schedule our days and weeks, there’s something to be said for spontaneous actions. Now, this isn’t about being irresponsible or foolish, it’s about changing up your routine every once and while and trying something new. Spontaneity can be a really freeing experience for your mind and body.
When’s the last time you had a truly spontaneous experience? That is, when have you last experienced something that was truly unplanned, and unaccounted for into your schedule? It could be trying out a different social activity with a good friend, traveling to a local destination for the fun of it, or trying out a new cafe for your coffee break.
Consider taking spontaneous actions every now and then. You never know what you might discover, who you might meet, or what stories you’ll have to tell about your experiences!
Quickly capture information.
The situation: It’s late at night. You’re in bed, starting to fall asleep, when all of a sudden, five brilliant ideas pop into your head. What should you do?
The solution: Jot down your ideas ASAP using the pen and notepad sitting on your nightstand.
Sure, you could try your best to remember all of those five brilliant ideas until the morning arrives, but at what cost? Your mind will be in overdrive as you try to remember everything. You’ll stress yourself out hoping you don’t forget anything or leave out an important bit of information.
Why place such a burden on your mind and jeopardize your quality of sleep? You’ll feel better knowing the information is captured in a safe place.
Go with the flow and capture this information using a pen and notepad. When writing down your ideas, avoid censoring or editing yourself. The key is getting this information out of your mind and into a physical form. You’ll have plenty of time to review your notes in the morning or at a later time of your choice.
You can also use this tip for all those other times when ideas, thoughts, to-dos, or tasks pop into your head. You can carry a small notebook and pen with you in your bag, type a note into a note taking app, or even email yourself some key information.
How about you? What do you find to be the most difficult or challenging part in going with the flow? Which of these tips are you going to try out? Join the conversation and leave a comment below!
Want to better manage your time? My eBook, The Order Expert’s Guide to Time Management, is a hands-on workbook that provides practical solutions to common, everyday time management problems. Click here to learn more.