Written December 21st, 2018
Starting a task is a hurdle. Putting yourself into the flow state requires a phase shift from the previous activity to the task at hand.
Two weeks ago, I had my first real taste of dragon focus. It began at 12 pm, after the trading day had concluded. I popped open a few excel spreadsheets, got my writing materials ready, and rid of any distractions.
My goal was clear: process all trades in the current quarter, document them, comment on them, and take away lessons. This was the building block; having a goal made it easy to put together my plan.
I wrote on a piece of paper:
1. Organize trades into groupings (ie. correct for scaling transactions).
2. Document trades.
3. Look at the relative PnL on these trades, and make note on common characteristics.
4. Compare characteristics of losing trades and winning trades.
With the plan clear, I started to crack at it, and came up with several edges that I have used in my trading since that day. I did not stop work for a total of 7 hours; during this time, I did take bits of time to look up tutorials for excel, but other than that, my flow state kept steady.
Dragon focus. It is when you undertake a relatively large task in a single session, in multiple hours of pure focused work. When I finished, I felt a dopamine rush like no other work session; my body rewarded me for sustaining a focused state. Now I have been trying to reformulate that same state of mind, with good success. Below are the steps to going into a flow, and the below that are notes on the flow state.
How to achieve dragon focus:
1. Have conviction. Dragon focus takes toll on the body, and so the benefit of this session MUST outweigh the mental fatigue you will feel after. You need full conviction that this work matters more than anything else you would do during that time.
2. Organize your room, and unclutter your desk. Have your writing instruments ready, fresh paper, and the necessary computer programs open.
3. Have a clear goal. It must be SMART: specific, measurable, assignable, relevant, and time-based. Write your goal on a piece of paper in a light colour (I chose red).
4. With your goal clearly defined, write out your session plan in a dark colour. Do not be afraid of having a lot of steps; entering a dragon state is like time travel, you will barely notice time pass as you crack at your work.
5. Do mindful meditation for 15 minutes, to bring you into the present.
6. Begin work.
-Dragon focus has a huge mental toll. Make sure your project is worth it. If you want to read a book you barely care about, you will not fully enter dragon state, and thus incur the cost of fatigue at relatively no benefit.
-Organization is the fuel on which dragon focus runs. It is important to enter your session in an organized space, accompanied by an organized mind. As you work through your session, your movements become fluid, and you notice clutter less. But if you entered the session in an organized state, then that state will carry through for the greater portion of your session.
-You will feel an immense dopamine rush after your session. You will get addicted to this.
-The strength of your session is in part dependent on your mental fitness. If you are unfocused, then your dragon session will not last too long. If you are a focused, single-tasked person, then you can find yourself doing upwards of 6 hours of focused work. Train your focus and mental fitness, and your sessions will only get better.
-I have found my retention from studying during these sessions to be high. This may be subjective, but in has to do in part with being in a flow state, and passing the knowledge directly into your long-term memory.