What To Do When You’re Stuck

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I sat for a solid five minutes staring at my keyboard. There is nothing left to write about. I’m boring, I haven’t done anything exciting lately, I have nothing to offer.

Then, I started typing, the first thing that came into my head. I was embarrassed, but weirdly proud, that I had walked and bought kombucha and was feeling confused about this weird transition I’ve been undergoing without really realizing I was undergoing it.

And then, it started flowing. That sentence turned into a paragraph. That paragraph turned into posts. Three drafts got started and fleshed out. And I returned to this post, which I had titled and left for dead four days ago in my absolute pit of self-pity and misery. “I haven’t been able to write lately,” I told Peter—several times on several walks and drives.

I was meeting deadlines and writing the stuff that had to get written, but even a day without the passion to write was panic-inducing. What if it was gone forever? I felt stalled.

It made me ask: when is it reasonable to step back, or give yourself a break to just meet others’ expectations, versus trying to meet your own? And when does keeping up stop cutting it, and being stalled on long term projects become an actual problem versus a short-term block?

When your livelihood, lifestyle and relaxation processes are tied together so intrinsically, the slightest blockage in any of them becomes much more of a problem.

But systems seem to be returning to normal, and I think there are a few reasons for that. So I wanted to share my few tips on getting out of a slump.

Try Something New

Even my training was starting to feel like a snooze, so instead of just trying to shove myself out the door for a short run or couple hour ride that I wasn’t in the mood for, I walked to the pool and swam and went to Peter’s strength and conditioning class the next day.

Add a Friend (or Two)

I wrote about this recently too, but I get so caught up in travel that sometimes I forget to stay in touch with people who are super important to me. So I started emailing regularly with a couple people and trying to remember to text/call people I love and don’t see enough more frequently. Talking to different people jogs my head in different directions and really opens up new ideas for me a lot of the time, unintentionally.

Turn It Off

Over the weekend, Peter was racing and I was supporting and doing some social media for him. So, I left my computer turned off for Saturday and Sunday, and just spent the days chatting with friends, running and riding, reading and just being a normal person. No work, no staring at my to-do list and feeling bad, no trying to write.

Assess Your Systems

My ToDoist app is great, but what I noticed is when to-dos (not urgent or deadline-based, just things I ‘should get done’) started adding up, I started to feel panicked and unmotivated. I think it was because it was just so freaking daunting to start on any of them. So, I reassessed, reassigned, and started trying to make sure that at the end of the day, if the list wasn’t cleared, I would either get the task done and dusted, or I would reassign it to the right day. And some of the tasks were to-dos that didn’t *really* need doing or writing at the moment, and they got filed to an Idea sheet instead of a daily to-do list. Having everything actually get ticked off really helped focus on getting stuff done that needs to be done, instead of feeling like no matter what you do, it’ll never get cleared. Be realistic about your goals, and be willing to reschedule if it’s not going to happen.

When In Doubt, Walk

Just go for a walk. That’s all. (I always bring my phone or at least a piece of paper and pen, because usually, that’s when brain blocks lower for me.

Do Your One Thing

You know—the thing on the list that’s hanging you up. For me that’s often transcribing something. There are days I don’t get anything done because there’s this one terrible task hanging over my head and I know I need to do it, so I end up … doing nothing. But it’s almost never as bad as I think it’ll be. In fact, it’s usually not unpleasant at all. So: channel Nike, and Just. Do. It.

And Just Start Typing

OK, easier said than done. But still.

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