Imagine joining a Zoom room with the sole purpose of working by yourself. Sounds weird? Well, it is weird. But it’s also a proven, powerful brain hack that helps you get shedloads done AND experience a surge of brain chemicals that help you feel terrific.
Welcome to FLOWN Flocks – virtual accountability groups, run on Zoom, designed to get you into ‘deep work’ mode, thinking and achieving big.
But, before we tell you how to join, let’s explore why you should…
Recreate the ‘pressure’ of the office (without the politics, toxicity and distraction)
Here’s a line you procrastinators will recognise: ‘I work best under pressure!’.
Well, there’s bad pressure (the ‘less than an hour to deadline and I’m just starting’ kind), and there’s good pressure.
You see, humans are collective animals. We’ve got to the top of the Earth’s food chain in part because we’ve learned to feed off each other and work in cahoots with each other. So working in the presence of others helps us perform.
That’s why, at FLOWN Flocks, we always break into little groups and tell our fellow Flockers what we intend to achieve in this particular session. This triggers our desire to please others and conform.
In the office this could be loaded with stressors (team politics, unreasonable expectations, ‘can you just’ requests). But at a FLOWN Flock, your intentions are heard without judgement, usually by someone entirely unrelated to your work, and bringing their own goals to the table. The result is support and a sense of community – both can be lacking in remote working jobs.
Block time to get important tasks done
Being a multitasker is a myth. A false economy of the very worst kind – studies show working on multiple tasks at once means you get worse results across all your tasks, and you’re slower to complete them.
Multitasking, in many knowledge work situations, also puts you in a constant state of near panic, without any chance to focus on the big, deep work tasks that you need to get done to really contribute to your company’s success.
That’s why FLOWN Flocks are so valuable to knowledge workers. Blocking periods of uninterrupted time in your calendar (time where you’ll be online with others gently holding you to account) is a surefire way to ward off distracting coworkers, and commit to getting something meaningful done.
And the very act of signing up to a Flock means you have to identify what that meaningful task is. It forces you to plan and prioritise – essential for very busy people to have a real impact in their work.
Invest in yourself
Unlike your schedule of meetings in your actual job, signing up to a FLOWN Flock is voluntary. The act of doing so is a commitment to doing some deep work.
And that act of commitment has been shown by psychologists to make a HUGE difference to your ability to complete tasks. It’s like taking the step to book a spin class (as opposed to saying on Sunday night ‘oh, I’ll go to the gym at some point this week’). It’s known in neuroscience circles as implementation intention, and it’s a powerful thing.
Seek ritual, not motivation
Sci-fi novelist Octavia Butler put it well:
“Forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not.”
Journalist Mason Currey, who writes about the habits of successful people, puts it rather more strongly.
“There is a popular notion that … there is some strike or bolt or bubbling up of creative mojo from who knows where,” he says. “I hope [my work] makes clear that waiting for inspiration is a terrible, terrible plan.”
In his book Deep Work, Cal Newport expands on the importance of ritual. It’s all about removing small-fry decision making from your day to aid your ability to do deep work – to concentrate and focus and push your mental ability to its limit.
“Great minds like Caro and Darwin didn’t deploy rituals to be weird; they did so because success in their work depended on their ability to go deep, again and again, ” Newport says. “Their rituals minimised the friction in this transition to depth, allowing them to go deep more easily and stay in the state for longer.”
Flocks help you establish rituals in your day, enabling you to go deep. Whether you join the morning Take-Off to journal and state your intentions, or dive into a Deep Dive deep working session, establishing a ritualised practice in your work helps you plan and do your best work.
Make time in your schedule and follow healthy rituals – the results will amaze you.
Set boundaries and positive habits
Many surveys and studies show that one of the biggest drawbacks of the WFH revolution is the erosion of separation between work and life. Even before social distancing became a thing, ‘work’ phones carried on pinging well into the evening – over dinner, out for drinks, while you’re putting on your PJs…
Now, if you no longer have a commute, an office, or a space for your team to be together, the alerts are more persistent, and somehow harder to resist.
Virtual accountability is about getting things done, but also looking after yourself.
The benefits to your productivity mean you are more likely to complete tasks at a faster pace, making you more comfortable switching off at the end of the workday.
But at Flocks, we hack your brain in other, healthy ways.
We take part in breaks as a group. Whether that’s a quick (and unthreatening) game, or a bit of stretching to get the blood pumping (camera off is fine), we’ll make sure you’re pulled out of your deep work and engaged in other brain and body stimulation at regular intervals.
Try Flocks out – book now
So that’s the ‘why’. It’s a simple concept that helps you do the very best work you can. And while virtual accountability may seem odd, the concept is so powerful that the medium of Zoom carries it quite delightfully, from the comfort of wherever you happen to be.
All you need to do it try it. FLOWN members can sign up to any of our sessions free. Join now. Sign up. Your productivity, work-life balance, and wellbeing will thank you.
P.S. This article AND another article (Why accountability sets you free) was brought to you by and during a FLOWN Flock. A two-hour deep working session that garnered more than 1,491 words. Get in!