I recently heard syndicated radio host, Mel Robbins, report that one-third of Americans feel "stuck" on a regular basis. In my experience, feeling stuck is usually connected to these thought patterns:
- Indecision - Which way should I go?
- Fear of Failure - If i step forward, I might do it wrong.
- Guilt - I should be doing it better or more of it.
- Self-doubt - I'm not good at this; imposter syndrome
I'm not a psychologist and don't propose the have the answers for getting past these for good, but I do know that some of us just need a momentum shift to jump-start our motivation and get unstuck. A little accomplishment and progress on things that have been cycling through your brain for too long can give you just the rush that you need to feel that momentum shift.
Here's a quick list of the methods I use to get people rolling again. They can be used one at a time or in combination to begin your week or month feeling focused and pumped up to get things done and boost your productivity.
- Do a brain dump. You may just have gridlock with far too much brain traffic cycling through and keeping you from focusing on any one thing. A quick dump to paper, Outlook or Google tasks, the listing app on your phone (like Wunderlist) or even an Excel spreadsheet can make all the difference. Dump, prioritize, and get started on the highest impact thing you could be doing right now. By the way, this is a good time to look at the low priorities and decide that they are no longer important to you. They just make you feel guilty until you stand up and say I'm not doing these. They are nice-to-haves, not must-haves.
- Face a "gremlin" and write about it for 15 minutes. Brené Brown, PhD, famed social worker and researcher, talks about the gremlins that make us feel unworthy in her most recent Ted Talk, Listening to Shame. Becoming more aware of your self-talk by acknowledging it and even writing about it can feel incredibly freeing. The most common message is "you're not good enough" and it will have us feeling stuck in a split second.
- Re-connect with someone who has been influential in your career or life. You have fans in your past and present and sometimes they are exactly who you need to hear from when you're feeling stuck. It's easy to be hard on yourself at times and a few kinds words exchanged with an old friend or colleague can remind you about who you really are and get you going again.
- Fix one broken process or technology issue. Working with work-arounds for too long can go beyond frustration at a certain point and shut you down. I recently brought my sister into my office for a day just to help me get a my laptop and wireless headset completely functional. I'd been lugging my old laptop on every business trip for months hoping to get to it. I can't tell you how good it feels to have that behind me.
- Do a 5 minute breakdown of a project you have been procrastinating on. This may be obvious, but procrastination is the admission cost of "Stuck-Land". We use it to avoid taking chances and to self-protect from all that is uncomfortable. This breakdown activity is simply setting your alarm for 5 minutes and spending the time breaking out as many tasks as you can clearly see will be necessary to accomplish the project. This should be the first task in every small project. The goal is not to finish the plan, it is to get a good start on it. Holding this one project in our brain for for just a few minutes can change our level of confidence about it.
Grab a few more ideas from our very popular SlideShare, The 5 Keys to a More Productive Day
or take a look at our Productivity Programs if you'd like us to help the whole team with this topic.