Yesterday I gave myself a flow day, following my own suggestion in my Authentic Tech Leaders Facebook group, and as part of that day I got a nudge to capture what I do and share it with you, hoping it might bring some inspiration, and also to show that there is no right or wrong day to do a flow day… its just about letting go of expectations.
What is a Flow day?
Let me be absolutely clear here – a flow day is something I made up a couple of years ago when I was feeling completely stressed out with all the things I felt I had to do.
I’d gone for a walk to escape, and found myself asking the question “What if I didn’t have to do any of it? What if I just let go, and went with the flow?“
As I played with those questions, I felt a weight lift off my shoulders and I started to notice that none of the things I was expecting myself to do that day were urgent – not in a life threatening sense. They could all wait, and I could take the time out that I was craving if I wanted to.
In letting go of the need to keep on pushing and meeting all my expectations, something lovely happened. I realised that while I didn’t need to do these things, there were some that I wanted to do. In fact there were some that were quite exciting, that I was keen to get stuck into.
So I gave myself permission just to follow what I wanted to do for the day, with no expectations. If that involved going back to bed, that was fine. If it meant getting out in the garden, I could do that too. If it meant sitting down and doing some work because I wanted to – that was ok.
What I discovered was that I achieved loads that day, even though there were no expectations on me. I probably achieved way more than if I’d kept on pushing through in a stressed out state – and I enjoyed it too!
An Example Flow Day
Every so often clients ask me about my typical day. What do I actually do as a coach?
Before I was a coach I used to wonder how it would work too. It’s pretty different to how I imagined. So I thought I’d cover two things in one go and share my “day in the life of Emma as a coach” combined with an example flow day.
My days are rarely the same, but this will give you a feel… and because it was a flow day, times are estimates 😀 I wasn’t keeping track!
Waking up... slowly
7:15 ish: woken by Layla (our 2-year old Labradoodle) whining… I’m not ready to wake up yet! Thankfully my husband, Pete, gets up to take her out for a walk.
She always gives a lovely morning welcome (see right) but today I’m happy to leave that to Pete.
8:30 (ish – you get the idea): I wake up again, this time naturally, I’d love to sleep some more, and my first appointment isn’t until 10am but my thinking kicks in about the things I need to do today.
I realise that I should really post something in my facebook group (I try to post a question or share an idea every morning) and decide a that as the theme for this week is “going with the flow”, today might be a good day to suggest trying out a flow day…
After 10 mins or so catching up on all my notifications on social media, I decide it’s time to get up and get on with stuff.
9:00: I’m up, showered, pottering around the house, getting breakfast sorted, waiting for Pete to come back from walking Layla.
I start thinking through all the things I need to do today. I have a couple of clients booked in this morning, but the biggest task for the day is to finalise the details and update my web page about my Authentic Tech Leaders Mentorship Programme, because I really need to get the details announced. I start to think through all the things have to be in place before I can make the announcement and start to feel the stress building.
My thinking then reminds me that I also have a bunch of client calls to write up and follow up, and I remember there are a few emails in my inbox that I need to sort through and respond to. Plus it would be great to get my social media posts organised for my mentorship programme launch…
Suddenly I wake up from the pressured train of thought that I’ve jumped on and notice that I’ve crammed months worth of work and a load of perfectionism into one day! No wonder I’m feeling overwhelmed!!
I remind myself that I’ve suggested that today could be a flow day to everyone in the group, so decide to take my own advice, let go of what I think I need to do, and see what happens.
Instead of sitting down and getting on with stuff I decide to go and meet Pete and Layla as they return from their walk. Some might call this procrastination, but for me, this is productivity at its best – because it’s about doing the thing I enjoy!
Getting Down To Work...
10:00: I have a call booked with a potential new client – someone interested in working with me to coach her around career development and confidence. This is just a 30 minute intro call. We missed each other on the last one call, I’m hoping that it works this time and we actually get to meet.
10 mins later she hasn’t logged in to zoom and I check my email/ social media messages and discover that she logged in at 9am because she’s in Europe and my booking system doesn’t have time zones enabled.
I send an apologetic email and then start a google search on how to update the settings on my booking system so it accommodates time zones.
I spend the next 30-40 mins doing absorbed in social media and emails (posting my morning posts on linked in/ twitter/ instagram/ Facebook – responding to comments, interacting with people and catching up on a couple of emails… amazing how time disappears).
I get a calendar nudge reminding me I have a client at 11, so read through my notes and prep for the conversation.
11:00: I sign in to zoom to coach two student clients about their business.
I’ve been a mentor for students on the Summer Accelerator programme at the University of York for the last 3 years. They get funding and coaching sessions to support them to investigate a business idea over the summer months. I love working with them because they are so motivated and have some amazing ideas… my job is to help them explore those ideas and figure out if they could become a business.
These two students have worked together to develop an app to help an organisation that one of them volunteered with in Costa-Rica to collect data about turtles. They have had had interest in the app from organisations doing field work and environmental monitoring and are using the summer to figure out if there is a business case for it.
This morning we talk about marketing messages, website development, finding the next case study and the feedback they’ve had from the potential customers they’ve spoken to so far. I find that many of my business coaching sessions are about helping the founders to be brave enough to get out there, speak to potential customers and find out what they really want instead of assuming and creating a product that adds no value.
12:00: time for coffee and toast break with Pete. We chat about web development, synthesisers, and being in the flow… it’s lovely to share some of the insights that have come to me this week as we’ve explored the topic of flow in my facebook group.
13:00: back at my desk to write up the notes from my session, and send over some info that I promised them. I get a bit distracted responding to posts on Facebook and then decide to write this “day in the life of…” blog, so I capture the morning’s activity.
Ready For The "Big Task"...
14:00: Write up complete, blog ideas captured… now onto this afternoons task… sorting out my website and launching my mentorship programme.
As I open up wordpress and start reading through what’s on the webpage from the last round, I tweak the language and add some updates. I’m pretty happy with the first half of it, but it’s the description of the programme and the topics we’ll cover that needs the work. I’ve decided to change the structure of the programme to simplify things to make it easier to drop in and out of. Instead of an intense 10-week programme, the training content will be accessible for 12 months, easy to drop into and provide underpinning ideas that we can build on in live workshops throughout the year.
I’m passionate about sharing what I’ve started to understand about state of mind and resilience and have seen my clients make the biggest leaps when they have started to connect with these ideas, but these messages seemed to be getting lost amongst tools and techniques in the previous programme structure.
It had impact, but I know it can be bigger. I’m hoping that by bringing these ideas more to the front of the programme, the women that sign up will really discover what this understanding can do for them and help them feel empowered to get out there, be the authentic, vulnerable leaders that the tech industry needs.
Today’s challenge is to succinctly describe what the programme offers and the value it can bring.
3 and a half hours later, after a spat with Pete as he interrupts me in mid-flow, a short break for lunch at 4pm, and with Layla nudging me for her afternoon walk, I finally have something that seems to make sense. It’s not perfect, but know I can come back and add to it later.
I press the publish button and it’s out there… now I just have to tell people about it!
18:00: Layla is still bugging me for her walk, but I decide that as I’m immersed in all the information about my mentorship programme, now is a great time to go live in my group and share it with everyone. I used to get really nervous doing live broadcasts, especially if it was selling stuff, but now I try just to turn up and share.
What I’ve realised is that if I don’t share, then noone will know about it… and I know that this programme will change people’s lives – so me holding it to myself is doing them a disservice.
So I quickly set up streamyard, create a quick description and press the live button. As I do, my mind goes blank… for a moment I feel like I’m unprepared… and then I start speaking and stuff comes out about the programme that seems to make sense and sounds ok…
Part way through Pete comes back and Layla decides she wants to get out of the room to go and see him. I’m in front of the door so have to do a bit of juggling. It throws me off a bit – but hey, that’s the fun of a live broadcast!
10 minutes later I sign off, and head out to take Layla for a walk
Into A Chilled Evening...
19:00: I come back from the walk to find that Pete has booked a table at our local pub – the Woodman in half an hour. That’s a relief – I did’t feel like cooking tea.
I realise I haven’t posted my second post on linked in for the day (I try to post at least twice a day), so I create a quick post about how I’ll be sharing all the details of my mentorship programme live on there on Monday at midday, check in on facebook for comments in the group, and then get ready to go out.
19:30: It’s lovely to be able to get out for a meal. We haven’t been out much since lockdown ended, so this feels special.
We have some lovely food with a nice bottle of wine, as Pete shares with me the backstory to all the characters in the short story/ book/ creative exploration that he’s writing. We have a relaxed game of Love Letters (which I lose badly) before heading home.
21:30: we get home to a lovely excited welcome from Layla. It’s not that late so we sit down to watch 21 Grams – a film about how 3 peoples lives intertwine which skips backwards and forwards through time. It’s pretty good and I’m engrossed.
23:30: film over, it’s time for bed. I’m pretty tired as I reflect on the day. I’m pretty pleased with myself for getting my website done and that I went live in my group to start spreading the word, and this evening has been lovely and relaxed after quite an intense afternoon.
Flow Day Reflections
This flow day example was a pretty intense day. I achieved quite a lot, even though it wasn’t everything I thought of at the start of the day.
What makes a flow day for me is following my energy for tasks as well as allowing myself space to relax.
My morning was pretty chilled and my afternoon was quite intense. I needed quite a bit of focus and energy to sort out my mentorship programme and on this day I had that energy to give.
I really enjoyed giving myself the time to get completely absorbed in what I was doing, and it was lovely to press publish and do the announcement to bring it all together. But, if that hadn’t felt right I knew that there was no real pressure to make it happen on that day – I was working to a deadline I had created for myself.
Giving myself the flexibility in the deadline removed the pressured thoughts, and allowed me to focus on doing what it made sense to do.
I hope that my sharing my day with you has given you more insight into a flow day, as well as what it is I get up to.
I’d encourage you to try out a flow day for yourself and discover how it works for you.
If you’d like to work with me on taking a more relaxed yet impactful approach to life, either through one-to-one coaching or my mentorship programme feel free to get in touch – let’s have a chat.
And if you’d like to join my free Authentic Tech Leaders facebook group and get access to daily nudges, weekly themes and masterclasses based around authenticity and leadership, you’ll find us here.