If you’ve ever been stuck on a project and wanted to use one of your lifelines or phone a friend, you are definitely not the only one. We’ve all been there, been stuck creatively, felt the frustration mounting and just didn’t know what to do.
Oflow is part of a new sub-genre of lifestyle apps that try to help get you out of your creative rut and back on the road to doing whatever it is you do. Perfect for anyone with a big project and looming deadline, Oflow will get you back on target.
Here’s a Tip
The biggest utility in Oflow comes from the Methods tab. If you’ve got a creativity block and can’t seem to get any further, start with methods. Framed as tips, they’re advice to get you out of a creative slump. A lot of the methods encourage you to brainstorm, but they also give you encouragement on how to brainstorm in an attempt to guide good ideas and get you back on track.
The tips are displayed at random, and there are well over a hundred, so if you want to return to a method you found really helpful, it could be difficult. Luckily, there’s a favorites sections where you can store the best tips that have done you the most good. It’s also a good way to look back and see what sort of tips are working for you. If you notice a trend, taking a walk before work or mapping a project out before you get started, you might want to make those methods a part of your regular workday.
Many of the tips in Oflow boil down to nothing more than a prompt to get started. I often find if I’m stuck and can’t seem to get writing, it’s best to skip straight to the middle, bypassing whatever has me stymied. It always seems like everything eventually falls into place. Oflow is full of these sorts of admonishments, to perform otherwise rote tasks out of order and in new ways to bust up the barricades we erect to prevent success.
Often, that’s exactly what many of us need to get going, but we get so locked into familiar patterns, it’s hard to even look around and realize we’ve dug ourselves a nice rut. Oflow’s tips cut through the haze of being in a creative rut and help point you in the right direction. It offers a nice way to reframe your problem and even how to work whenever you’re stuck.
Things That Flow and That Don’t
Set a reminder if you want to get a tip everyday at a specific time. I think this is especially helpful if you’re working on a project that’s giving you trouble; you can be reminded to touch base with Oflow before you get started for the day. Otherwise, Oflow seems to work best as a crisis counselor, helping you over the big creativity speed bumps, which hopefully won’t occur everyday.
You can take notes inside the tips, but I wish they stayed attached to the individual methods. If I found method #119 worked really well for me and have some thoughts on why, I’d like to get that out into Oflow. Instead, the notes you take go to the Notes tab and don’t really connect to the method that prompted them.
While the methods, the real meat of the app, are great, and the favorites and notes are nice as well, it feels like there’s something missing from Oflow. Without the ability to tie notes to tips or bundle similar tips together, Oflow is limited in what it can accomplish for you. I’d like to flag three tips that work best for me or categorize tips by how well they function for different sorts of projects.
I already know most of what Oflow is trying to teach me, and the tips for talking to a friend, walking around the block, taking a shower or just changing my environment aren’t exactly groundbreaking. When you read these creativity tips in Oflow, and especially when you find one that works for you, you’ll think, “Of course, I should have tried this ages ago!” But you didn’t think of it on your own, and you didn’t try it ages ago and without Oflow, you might still be stuck in your creative rut.
That’s what makes Oflow so great — it’s just the thing when you need it. Despite it’s lack of extra features to tie the different methods together, Oflow’s maxims really can do the trick when you need to break a block. When you get down to brass tacks, though, Oflow really is little more than a collection of aphorisms and nice tips for better creating. A good tool for letting your creativity flow, folded into a more complete note-taking or mind-mapping app, Oflow would have been something great.