If you've ever been paralyzed with a big looming project on the horizon or a seemingly insurmountable problem, you'll want to read these 5 ways to quickly get unstuck.
Have you ever been stuck? I don’t mean like stuck talking to someone who won’t listen, but I’m sure we’ve all been there too. I mean have you ever been mentally stuck where you’re paralyzed to move forward.
Perhaps you have a deadline at work with a million things to do and you simply can’t take any action. Or maybe like me, you’re staring at a blank page that needs to be filled with 1,000 words, but not one word will come to you.
So what do you do when you get stuck? Sometimes I dig a deeper hole and panic at how I simply can’t believe I can’t think of anything to write, and I better come up with something fast or I’m doomed. Yeah, I don’t recommend that approach.
I do have some more helpful approaches to move you forward when you get stuck.
5 ways to quickly get unstuck
1. Break the Project Into Tiny Chunks
When you’re looking at the expanse of an enormous project with hundreds of different components, it’s easy to get overwhelmed, and then freeze. Instead of focusing on the enormity of the task, start small.
For me, when I'm uninspired looking at a blank page, I’ll start by just coming up with a title. Or I’ll start with a sentence in the middle. Or a picture. That usually cultivates some juices and things begin to flow from there.
When you break your project into smaller pieces, not only does that give you some easier, actionable items, but it also gives you a sense of accomplishment when you can cross a few things off a list.
When I’m feeling super stuck in several areas of my life, I’ll make a ridiculously simple list that includes things like exercise, make a healthy meal, and send five emails. Making the list is as therapeutic as drawing a line through each item when you finish.
2. Ask For Help
So often we sit silently and spin our wheels, unable to see how we can possibly solve a problem or get to the end of the task. That’s a good time to phone a friend, colleague, or mentor.
Sometimes simply talking it out can reveal a potential solution. I’ve even figured out answers to my own issues just by hearing myself put words to the problem.
Of course, others can also be helpful in getting you unstuck by offering a different perspective. When we’re so close to a problem, it can be difficult to see other paths.
Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help.
All that sitting and stewing can be counter productive. When I sit and stare at an empty screen saying come on, be creative already, I don’t usually get great results. That’s when I know I need to get up and move my body.
A walk around the block can do wonders. I like to breathe in some fresh air and gaze at the blue sky or tall trees. Being in nature gets me out of my head and unstuck faster than most other things.
If the weather isn’t conducive to an outdoor walk, then have a spontaneous dance party. Grab your headphones, close your office door or go to the bathroom. Cue up your favorite song, and let loose. Get into the music and out of your head.
Shaking your body can shake the nerves and stagnation that has you stuck. It allows you to take the focus out of your fried brain and move it into your body where you can center. Ideally, at the end of your mid-day dance, the increased blood flow will translate into increased ideas and productivity.
Sometimes the opposite of moving can be just as effective to quickly getting unstuck. Trying to make your brain produce can induce performance anxiety. So change the focus.
Sit quietly with your eyes closed and focus on your breath. “Box breathing” can be effective to calm and balance the body. Slowly breathe in for four counts, feeling your belly expand, and then hold at the top for another four beats. Release slowly, for four counts while your belly contracts, and pause at the bottom for four.
Practice this cycle two or three times and feel how your temperament changes. This shift in perspective should have you feeling more grounded and ready to tackle the day.
5. Find inspiration
If the ideas for problem-solving or starting a new project just aren’t coming to you, then look for inspiration.
Search Pinterest for more colorful ideas than you may know what to do with. Find someone who’s had success in your area and see what he or she did. Of course you don’t want to copy anyone, but hopefully seeing different takes on a subject will get your creative juices flowing.
Look for inspiration in a totally different field than the area where you’re stuck. Go admire a post-modern art collection. Walk in a manicured garden. Stroll along the beach. See a unique, avant-garde performance. Enjoy a beautiful sunset.
Switching your brain into a new realm will open it up, and ideally get it ready to handle the task at hand.