Tuesday, February 9, 2010

LW Monday on Tuesday: Getting Unstuck

Computers Freeze. Writers Get Writer’s Block. People Get Stuck.

Everyone becomes stuck every now and again. Some decisions are hard to make so keep getting put off. Some goals start to seem so far away and hard to reach that progress towards them grinds to a halt. Sometimes a first step seems huge and insurmountable.

Fortunately, there are ways to get unstuck.

I get stuck most often on tasks I just hate to do, for whatever reason. I hate doing dishes, as just one example. It is easy for me to avoid doing them, thus letting them pile up and becoming an even bigger pile of hatred. But a friend of mine, with issues of her own, taught me that ‘you can do any task – ANY task – for 20 minutes.” Therefore, when I find myself stuck, I set a time for 20 minutes and have at it. It may not finish the entire task (it does with dishes, but if the task was doing taxes it wouldn’t), but it will take a bite out of one or more steps in that task. It will lift the burden, and help get you off of ‘full stop’.

(It also works as an ‘artificial deadline’, for those who feel that they do their best work when racing a deadline. You can apply ‘artificial deadlines’ at will, too.)

You might have to repeat this approach over and over again to get some tasks done. You might find that, having done the first 20 minutes, you can keep going. If so …. go for it! - assuming you have time free from other scheduled tasks.

Did you notice that I mentioned “steps in that task”? Sometimes we get stuck because we have a big task ahead of us and we haven’t taken the time to think it thru’, plan the steps, and then go forth and execute the plan.

What’s hot in this planning area right now is ‘mind mapping’ – a visual approach to planning as opposed to linear list making planning. Really, either approach works. All I’m suggesting is that you DO plan your work, break it down into measurable and finishable steps, then take those steps.

Oh, I mentioned “writer’s block” in the title. I should specifically address that. When faced with it – write something else. Best would be another part of that article or story. Or plot something else. Or write some other article or story. Usually you are only blocked on the one thing you have been trying to write. Don’t let it stop you from writing in the time you have to write in.

The last way around being stuck that I want to talk about today is …. Hitting the reset button. Turn away from what you have been trying to do, officially. Walk away for a while. Do something else.

Do this ONCE, and for a limited time. Then go back to the task at hand. Don’t let this be a crutch that you use to keep away from the unloved task.

Bottom line: there will be times you get stuck. There are ways around being stuck. Use them; don’t let being stuck use you. You are in charge of your life, not your likes, dislikes, fears, boredom, what have you.

Frondly, Fern

1 comment:

  1. Great concise tips on productive flourishing in a chaotic environment called "overwhelm."
    Will pass this post on to my bf who gets easily "stuck." As do I. HuGz:)