Have you ever just felt really…stuck?
Nothing in particular is wrong, but you just don’t seem to be able to motivate yourself, you can’t move past a certain project or you’re just feeling a little blocked. You’ll do anything to avoid it. Your laundry, clearing your inbox, the books you always say you’ll get around to but never do – it doesn’t matter how you distract yourself. The same seemingly insurmountable task is still there, looming over you.
It happens to the best of us. Procrastination is a slippery slope to feeling blocked and incapable. We blow the problem up in our mind until it’s far bigger than it actually is and it seems like we’ll never solve it.
It’s a problem that has been particularly pervasive these last few years with our working situations changing drastically. With hybrid working becoming the norm and working from home becoming more and more popular, our office environments just aren't the same. There’s not as much of a motivating office vibe, no workmates to bounce ideas off of and no creative breakthroughs fuelled by a coffee break. Our home lives became blended with our work lives making it impossible to separate the two, causing us to feel less inspired and more overwhelmed.
It can feel like there’s little to do but sit and think it out when we find ourselves in this rut, but sometimes the best thing for a block is to shelf it for a bit, rather than trying to push through and stumping yourself further. A change of scene or mindset can make all the difference when our brains are coming up blank. Here’s a few things you can do to tackle that block and get back on track:
Go for a walk
Switch up your environment, get out of whatever space is confining you. Put away the project to the back of your mind, stick in your earphones and blast the music that always gets you up and motivated. Switching out brains off with a mood-boosting activity like exercise and listening to music can help us to return with a new perspective and more optimism when tackling the challenge, meaning we’re in a better head space with higher concentration levels from the breath of fresh air.
Sometimes, just writing it down on paper can be exactly what gives you your breakthrough. When we think about things in the abstract, they can seem overwhelming and huge and complex. But writing out your thoughts, whether that’s as a brainstorm, a diagram or a list of what needs to be achieved can make you see things in a different way. If it’s a problem where you’re finding it hard to be creative or to come up with a solution to something, set a timer on your phone for 3 -5 minutes and until that timer stops, you write every single thought that goes through your brain onto the page. Don’t stop or hesitate or feel foolish – you can burn the page or whatever you want afterwards. But sometimes doing a brain dump can either show you your solution or free up your brain to stop you obsessing over trivial things.
Do a meditation
It will probably be the last thing you feel like in that moment. You’ll feel frustrated and buried in work and so certain that if you just keep pushing you’ll get a breakthrough. But when you’re in that state, you might as well just be headbutting a wall. A brain in overdrive is not always a productive brain. It will retrace the same steps and ideas, looking for something to latch on to fix the solution, but being open to new ideas requires a calmer, more inspired state of mind. A quick meditation for calm, inspiration, creativity or focus will get you back on track, clearing your mind of the useless clutter, bringing concentration and a better approach to the problem.
Listen to a Ted Talk
Inspiring words can inspire actions. This one is great for procrastinators who just need a little help some days. Ted Talks are literally designed to be motivating. There’s great ones on YouTube that can give you the push you need to get over the bump in your path. Try out why effort is important with Brendan Clark, thinking inside the box and it’s limits with Aadil Vora or any number of motivating talks online.
Check your food/water levels
We can get really stuck into a project and have our brain be so occupied that our bodily needs can fall to the wayside. Your body may be calling out for water and nourishment, but you may not realise it until you take a step back. Doing a body scan is a great way to a) reconnect with your body and its needs and b) resetting your brain and giving it a little break from problem-solving. They can put us back in touch with our bodies and are a quick and easy way to take a moment for yourself at your desk. Breathe into spaces of tension or unease, slowly and gently releasing them. Move up and down your body, giving each specific part the time it needs to relax and see to any needs your body may have.
Clear off your desk and some tabs
A cluttered desk is a cluttered mind. When our workspace is covered in graphs and charts and infographic scattered amidst five cold cups of coffee, your old notebooks, lip balms, broken pens and whatever else has accumulated, it can feel all the more daunting. It can be an information overload, so clearing away everything except what you need, opening the windows for fresh air and closing tabs you’re not using can all feel a little more cleansing and calmer, giving your mind the opportunity to think rather than feel distracted.
Call someone you trust
They don’t necessarily have to be an expert in the area that you’re working in – though that can help too – but sometime an outsider’s perspective can simplify the idea and make you take a step back from the situation. And aside from their ideas, just talking it out can make you phrase it or view it in a totally different way. Bouncing ideas off someone else can create new possibilities and new trains of thought to follow – communication is key and work-from-home office shouldn’t change that.
10-minute at home workout
An energy slump can be as deadly as falling into a procrastination habit for productivity. We all hit a point in our days when we feel wrung out, drooping in our desk chairs and gazing listlessly at our screens. One way to tackle it is to get your blood flowing again. A short, fast and intense workout – even just ten minutes – can get your energy levels right up along with your respiration levels, meaning more blood flow to the brain and more productivity! Win win!