Its 6 a.m. and the alarm goes off. Its another Monday morning and you have no idea how fast the weekend flew past you.
In work and creativity, the moment often comes when you suddenly feel that you are slipping. Stuck and can’t figure out where to go next. This terribly enrages, undermines self-confidence and, in the end, simply takes up precious time. How to get out of a stupor and move forward?
If you have fallen into some wrong track and don’t know how to continue your work further from this point, you have begun to procrastinate and be distracted by all kinds of nonsense like Facebook, other people’s blogs and Internet memes, then it’s time to answer 7 simple questions.
1. Do I know what to do next?
We are most likely to get stuck if:
a) We do not know what the next step should be.
If you do not know what to do, then you will not do anything. I must remember. Therefore, flip your diary back, go back to the beginning of your project or the current stage of work – to brainstorming and blackboard with markers. There – at the beginning – you will surely find inspiration that has come to pass due to the working routine and the meaning of what you are doing now.
b) We have too many options for what the next step might be.
Too much choice does not allow you to take up one thing, how to hook on it and clearly roll along the selected track. Therefore, narrow down your options, focus on one and concentrate only on it. If anything, then you can change your mind and change the plan. Remember: to make a decision is a much greater difficulty and problem than to unravel the consequences of an already adopted decision (even if it is unsuccessful!).
c) There are several options for the next step, and they are mutually exclusive.
If you quickly did your job and suddenly the time was free, what should you devote to it? Make a backlog for tomorrow or run home to spend time with family? Have you received a small bonus – to spend it on redecorating the bathroom, on a pleasant trip or on a refresher course? If your options compete with each other for your resources and attention, this will literally paralyze. As in the previous version, you need to focus on one thing as soon as possible. Choose your priority and hold on to it.
2. Have I done this before?
Unfamiliar situations increase the likelihood of you becoming stuck. You feel insecure and uncomfortable. You do not know how to approach the task, you cannot anticipate the problems that you face. There is every reason to feel not in the best shape. In a familiar situation, we get stuck less often because we know perfectly well what to do. You know all the steps, you have strategies, and you can anticipate difficulties. Fortunately, the novelty is temporary. A little practice – and an unfamiliar situation is already becoming a familiar and easy routine.
3. Do I have the necessary skills?
If you don’t know how to do something, then naturally you can easily get stuck and avoid solving a problem instead of just tackling it. The lack of skills does not have to be real: if it seems to you that you do not know how to do this, this is enough to start walking in circles and postpone specific actions. If you really don’t know something, then you have two simple ways: to acquire the necessary skills or to delegate your task to someone who has them. Acquiring this skill could be your next leap into a fulfilling career and in turn a happy life.
4. Do I have the necessary resources?
There are five main resources that are needed to work on a project or achieving a goal: time, information, money/materials, energy, support. How quickly you reach your goal depends on their availability. It is very important to objectively evaluate your resources. Both underestimating and overestimating their amount of resources you need can lead to your being stuck.
a) Time: how much time is needed to solve this problem and how much time do I have?
b) Information: what and how much should I find out and how much information should I provide to my colleagues?
c) Money/materials: how much will this project cost, can I afford it, what dividends will I get from it?
d) Energy: how much of my physical, intellectual and emotional energy will this task require?
e) Support: what kind of support do I need and where can I get it?
5. Do I know what results can be expected?
People are more willing to make an effort to something if they know when and how the effort will pay off, what they will gain and what they will lose. If we do not know where all this will lead, it reduces motivation and contributes to getting stuck. Knowing what will happen if we do not complete our task is also useful. For example, we pay bills for the telephone, the Internet or electricity, because if we do not pay them on time, the services will be turned off. Yes, this is the carrot and stick method. Yes, it works too.
6. How do I feel about this job?
If emotions are too strong and get out of hand, they can interfere with work. Anxiety, excitement, anger, resentment, disappointment – all these experiences can slow you down and paralyze you. And if these feelings are caused precisely by work – this is an occasion to reflect and figure out what exactly your project hurts you like that. To remove this emotional block, you need to carefully examine and unravel it, and not “sweep it under the carpet” – unprocessed, it will prevent you from moving forward towards your goal. Too strong positive emotions can also interfere. If you jump like a ball with delight, then it is more difficult for you to keep focused attention, to work calmly and thoughtfully. The ideal state for productive work is a calm, slightly elevated positive mood.
7. Is this what I should do now?
Part of our daily routine is to work for long-term goals, and part is not. People tend to postpone for as long as possible those things that seem unrelated to the achievement of large goals. But not so simple. Many tasks are in the gray zone. You can avoid some routine tasks that distract you from your big goal, but in reality, there may be something related to the big goal. At the same time, it is likely that you (on purpose and not on purpose) spend a lot of your working time on other matters that have nothing to do with your big goal.
Now, you have an idea what to do to get out of the rut. Go and explore.