You’ve got a to-do list a mile long. Yet, you’re not tackling any of those items. You’re sitting on the floor of your office sorting through folders left behind from the person that had your job 10 years ago. Despite the looming list of tasks you should be tackling, you’re devoting time to organizing a drawer you’ve ignored for nearly a decade. It’s not that this need to sort, archive, and shred has suddenly become a priority. It’s that you’re just not sure how to even start tackling those to-do list items and this task of impromptu spring cleaning seems like a good distraction while you low-key procrastinate the inevitable.
Creative blocks are not reserved for writers and artists. We all find ourselves stuck sometimes – unable to process the information we need to move from a blank page to completion on a task or project. The good news is that it’s normal, and more importantly, that there are things you can do to jump-start your thought process so you can jump into the fray and make progress on your task list.
Sure, Get Distracted
The truth is the distraction of a more mundane task may actually be a good tool to get you refocused and on track. So go ahead and take a little time to reorganize your office or clear out the backlog of emails in our inbox. Successfully completing a task – even one that’s not a high priority or complex – can boost our confidence and motivation in a way that moves us forward on those other items we’ve been stuck on.
Agatha Christie once said, “The best time for planning a book is while you're doing the dishes.” Get busy being busy and let your mind wander. You’re not just purging old documents no one needs any more, you’re also unlocking your productivity.
Talk It Out
Sometimes we overcomplicate things and, in the process, work ourselves into that state of stuckness. Grab a trusted mentor or colleague and talk through the project before you. Getting someone else’s perspective may help unlock your own thoughts. They may see a different approach to what seems daunting to you. They may be able to affirm your ideas are more ‘on target’ than you’re feeling at the moment. They may be the spark you need to get moving forward.
Make It Smaller
Some tasks feel daunting because, well, maybe they are. Some things on your to-do list may be huge in terms of scope of work or importance. Understanding the big picture is important. But don’t just stay there. It’s good to step back and explore the components of your project. Don’t fixate on the perfect launch of your next product or service. Break it down into pieces and focus on one piece at a time.
By the way, when you check one of those smaller chunks off your new to-do list, celebrate it. Those little wins will help motivate you on to the next one and the next one and then next one until the finish line is sight.
Toss It All Out There
Sometimes the fits and starts that lead to a creative block come because we’re busy second guessing our ideas before we even fully form them. If you feel like you’re dismissing the ‘how to’ side of your planning before you even get anything on paper, shut down your auto-edit function. Clear off that white board and just write it all down. Get every idea – the good, the bad, and even the ugly – up in plain view. Don’t veto an idea before it sees the light of day. Just dump it all out there for consideration.
Work through each morsel of thought to see if it has the potential to grow legs if given a chance. Find something that could work? Keep at it until you’re in the groove and making progress toward completing your goal.
Be Happy With Good Enough
Perfection is a lie. There’s no debate here. If you’re being held back by trying to put your finger on the perfect plan, the perfect idea, the perfect process, you’re going to be here a very long time. Give up on pursuing perfection and learn to be comfortable with “good enough.”
That’s not to say that you settle for mediocre or that you don’t aim to meet expectations and healthy high standards. Of course not. You should always aim to do your best. This is just about recognizing that your best isn’t the same as perfect and holding out for perfection might be holding you back.
Be Willing to Fail
Yes, we’ve said it before and we’re going to say it again and again. You need to be willing to fail. Sometimes we get stuck and unable to move forward because we’re afraid of what’s going to happen if we get it wrong and fail. Success comes to those who are willing to take a chance.
If we swing and miss, well we’ve learned something in the process. We can regroup and try differently. Failure is only failure if we don’t grow from the experience.