While you may not have heard the term junk flow before, it is very possible that you have experienced it.
I know exactly when my kids are in screen time junk flow by their grunted monosyllabic responses and laser focused vacant expressions. Not to mention, nothing they hear or say while in their junk flow is retained. I tend to get a lot of, “what,” “huh,” and, “I don’t remember that,” afterward. They are so happily absorbed in their digital world that nothing outside of it exists. Yet, unlike the positive state of flow, there is no real advantage to the time they have just spent zoned out.
According to Professor Csikszentmihalyi, as quoted in A Learning A Day , “Junk flow is when you are actually becoming addicted to a superficial experience that may be flow at the beginning, but after a while becomes something that you become addicted to instead of something that makes you grow.”
The Line Between Flow and Junk Flow
One only has to read a list of the benefits brought by achieving a state of flow to appreciate the positive impact it can have on both daily life and overall well being.
There are plenty of advice articles floating around the internet trying to teach how to enter flow states. They usually recommend a lot of common, but vague advice about concentration, managing emotion and focus, and setting clear goals. They often describe that these are ideal components needed to enter a flow state, but lack the advice of what you specifically want to do.
When you add in that a healthy and positive state of flow can turn into a not-so-healthy, and potentially addictive, junk flow, well— it makes sense to be confused and slightly alarmed.
How Journaling Can Help Fight Junk Flow
A potential solution is to turn to the old-fashioned, but tried and true method of journaling.
Journals are terrific tools to explore and monitor habits and behaviors. As Huffpost author Kelsey Borreson notes in “Why You Should Start A Journal Right Now (And How To Stick With It)”, “It can help you spot patterns in your thoughts or behaviors that don’t serve you, connect dots between what you think and do and how you feel.”
Find Challenges and Improve Skills
To enter a state of flow, it is important to work toward something challenging. It is noted by psychology scholars that flow states are all about finding new challenges and improving your skills to overcome these challenges.
This is how Olympic athletes and awarded scholars often operate. They don’t just set goals to accomplish something they are already overqualified to do, meaning they already possess the skills necessary to achieve them. Instead, they challenge themselves to go further. Then, they have clear skill gaps to work on.
In relation to monitoring habits and behavior, the act of journaling can be doubly beneficial: first in helping to identify areas of complacency and repetition (junk flow), and then in addressing how to change or correct it.
Clearly State Goals
Writing down goals makes it easier to achieve them. A 2015 study by Professor Gail Matthews found that writing down concrete goals showed 33% more likelihood of accomplishing them as opposed to only thinking about. By clearly defining your goals and writing them down, you are giving yourself the ability to measure your progress and hold yourself accountable.
Focus Completely By Setting Aside Sufficient Time
Traditional journals have numerous benefits (83 according to positivepsychology.com), but don’t always provide the space for mapping out and planning goal achievement. Allocating time for challenges and goals is crucial. You may have heard of the SMART method for setting goals, ensuring they are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timed. The timed component is one that individuals often leave out when journaling.
Binge Battle planournals provide an optimal way to achieve your goals by combining the helpful qualities of a journal with another reliable resource, the planner.
Fight The Suck With Binge Battle’s Planournals
Junk flow has the potential to throw off your goals and waste your flow state on something that is meaningless. We often find that in the digital age, there is an unconscious “suck” of our screens and devices pulling us in. These forces can corrupt flow states and distract us from our goals that really matter to us and stunt personal growth.
By combining the positive self-reflection and health benefits of journaling and the realistic time-structured nature of planners, Binge Battle planournals can help you determine what all those little meaningless junk flow minutes add up to over time.
Isn’t it time you Fight the Suck?