Sometimes work can make us feel stuck, unsure of how best to get something done, but getting unstuck doesn’t have to be challenging. Here are a few simple ways to move forward when things aren’t moving.
Stuck on a Task
Sometimes when we have a task in front of us, we get stuck. We don’t know where to start. We don’t know how to get it done. We don’t know how to make it “zing” and stand out from the crowd.
In short we don’t know how to take the task in front of us and do our best with it.
Often we just sit with it and spin our tires, unsure of what steps to take next. We are stuck. The good news is there are a few simple tricks for getting unstuck.
Talk to Yourself
One of the first things you can do if you find yourself stuck is to talk to yourself. Ask yourself why this has you stuck. What is it about this task that you don’t like?
Procrastination is often our mind’s way of telling us something is wrong. We’re doing the wrong task or we’re better suited for something else or it’s something that causes us grief.
If we’re doing the wrong task, we need to know why. Perhaps we should be doing a different task to get the same result. Or perhaps we are doing an accounting task while we’re best suited for a people task which is what the accountant is doing. Maybe switching tasks would make everyone happier and more productive.
Of course, sometimes it’s just a task we need to do and we don’t want to. If that’s the case, keep reading.
If you have something in front of you that isn’t compelling, sometimes you need to change course. If we have several tasks that need to get done in no particular order, sometimes it’s good to do something different for a bit.
Or, perhaps we might find it best to change course all together. Sometimes we might find that the work we are doing isn’t the right work to be doing. We can talk with our boss or, if we are the boss, make a decision to change direction. Doing work we don’t want to do is part of life, but doing “busy work” isn’t work – it’s distraction.
If we are simply changing course for a bit and not all together, sometimes we will want to break things down.
Break it Down
Sometimes we have work we simply don’t want to do. Sometimes work sucks. That’s okay. There are some easy ways to get through it.
There’s a simple trick to it if you have the luxury of time: do it in small chunks, or what I like to call the simple steps to success. There is a principle called Kaizen which quite simply breaks down tasks into chunks so small that we no longer worry about them.
You may want to write but the thought of writing a chapter a day paralyzes you and you never write. Instead, write just tell yourself you have to write just a paragraph a day. You will be surprised how much you write and you won’t be anxious about it.
This is how I started writing and now I write 60 minutes a day, have written over a thousand blog posts, and just sent my 4th book to my editor.
Sometimes it’s best to do things in chunks. My days are in blocks with a few items per block. I write a lot of code, but I do it in three different blocks at different times in the day. It makes it more enjoyable to switch things out, move around, and keep things fresh.
Finally, if the task you are working on is the wrong thing, have the guts to chuck it. So often we work on tasks because we feel we should without really thinking about if we should. Getting unstuck sometimes means making tough choices.
This week I had to end a partnership with a group of people I love working with. Every time I go there to present, I have a wonderful time. The people there are so wonderful too.
But the work I was doing wasn’t the right work. It was valuable, but it was taking me away from the core work I needed to focus on. All the setup and preparation took too much time away from the things I needed to be doing.
If what you are working on no longer makes sense to do, don’t hang onto it just to get it done. Chuck it.
If you find yourself stuck on a task, getting unstuck is easy. First, ask yourself what it is about this task that is making you stuck and make changes to work best with it. Second, change course if you need to in order to better accomplish the whole of your work. Third, break down challenging tasks into easy to manage chunks. And finally, if it’s not the right task, chuck it.
We all get stuck. But getting unstuck can make us feel happier, more productive, and at peace. The next time you find yourself stuck, try these tools and discover a more peaceful, productive day.