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How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

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How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. A rut can manifest as a productivity vacuum and be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. Is it possible to learn how to get out of a rut?

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, or a student, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on Small Tasks

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks that have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate positive momentum, which I bring forward to my work.

If you have a large long-term goal you can’t wait to get started on, break it down into smaller objectives first. This will help each piece feel manageable and help you feel like you’re moving closer to your goal.

You can learn more about goals vs objectives here.

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2. Take a Break From Your Work Desk

When you want to learn how to get out of a rut, get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the bathroom, walk around the office, or go out and get a snack. According to research, your productivity is best when you work for 50 minutes to an hour and then take a 15-20 minute break[1].

Your mind may be too bogged down and will need some airing. By walking away from your computer, you may create extra space for new ideas that were hiding behind high stress levels.

3. Upgrade Yourself

Take the down time to upgrade your knowledge and skills. Go to a seminar, read up on a subject of interest, or start learning a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college[2]. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a Friend

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while. Relying on a support system is a great way to work on self-care when you’re learning how to get out of a rut.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget About Trying to Be Perfect

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies. Perfectionism can lead you to fear failure, which can ultimate hinder you even more if you’re trying to find motivation to work on something new.

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If you allow your perfectionism to fade, soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come, and then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

Learn more about How Not to Let Perfectionism Secretly Screw You Up.

6. Paint a Vision to Work Towards

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the ultimate goal or vision you have for your life?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action. You can use the power of visualization or even create a vision board if you like to have something to physically remind you of your goals.

7. Read a Book (or Blog)

The things we read are like food for our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great material.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. You can also stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs and follow writers who inspire and motivate you. Find something that interests you and start reading.

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8. Have a Quick Nap

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep[3].

Try a nap if you want to get out of a rut

    One Harvard study found that “whether they took long naps or short naps, participants showed significant improvement on three of the four tests in the study’s cognitive-assessment battery”[4].

    9. Remember Why You Are Doing This

    Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

    What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall your inspiration, and perhaps even journal about it to make it feel more tangible.

    10. Find Some Competition

    When we are learning how to get out of a rut, there’s nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

    Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, and networking conventions can all inspire you to get a move on. However, don’t let this throw you back into your perfectionist tendencies or low self-esteem.

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    11. Go Exercise

    Since you are not making headway at work, you might as well spend the time getting into shape and increasing dopamine levels. Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, or whatever type of exercise helps you start to feel better.

    As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

    If you need ideas for a quick workout, check out the video below:

    12. Take a Few Vacation Days

    If you are stuck in a rut, it’s usually a sign that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

    Beyond the quick tips above, arrange one or two days to take off from work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax, do your favorite activities, and spend time with family members. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

    Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest.

    More Tips to Help You Get out of a Rut

    Featured photo credit: Ashkan Forouzani via unsplash.com

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    Reference

    More by this author

    Celestine Chua

    Celestine is the Founder of Personal Excellence where she shares her best advice on how to boost productivity and achieve excellence in life.

    42 Practical Ways to Start Working on Self-Improvement 11 Reasons Why You Aren’t Getting Results on Your Goals How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators 20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity 5 Reasons Why Being a Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect

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    Last Updated on November 22, 2021

    20 All-Time Best Motivational Books to Inspire You

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    20 All-Time Best Motivational Books to Inspire You

    Sometimes going through life can be a little bit of a roller coaster. There are many ups and just as many downs as we journey through the high and low points.

    Life becomes a little simpler when you accept that as we pursue our goals, there will inevitably be challenges and barriers along the way. This is why a few extra sources of inspiration, such as motivational books, never hurt anyone.

    The following motivational books were selected because they can fulfill this need for you. These books will challenge you to question your current perspectives and grow in unexpected ways.

    The following motivational books will provide you with a source of inspiration great enough to light your internal fire!

    1. Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Fankl

      Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl’s discusses in-depth his experience with living in Nazi death camps and describes the lessons it taught him about spiritual survival. Frankl puts forth a convincing argument that avoiding suffering isn’t realistic. However, through choosing how we cope with that suffering and the meaning we ascribe to it, we retain the ability to move forward with renewed purpose.

      This certainly is a book for the generations that anyone can gain value from. Man’s Search for Meaning has been listed as one of the most influential books in America and has currently sold over 10 million copies in twenty-four languages.

      If you’re looking for motivational books that can help you learn about the value of ascribing meaning to suffering, this is one for you!

      Get the book here!

      2. You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero

        Of all the motivational books out there, this is a must-read for those who are into life design.

        Through this book, Jen provides her readers with simple exercises to help people identify their self-limiting beliefs, attitudes, and habits. She provides some great advice and does so in a humorous way to truly captivate her audience and motivate them to begin achieving the success they want from their lives.

        Jen’s goal is to help her readers truly understand why they have developed certain thought and behavior patterns. She helps us to focus on the things that we can change and accept the things which we cannot.

        Overall, the book offers a new comical approach towards inspiring and motivating its audiences, and can be enjoyed by anyone who decides to pick it up.

        Get the book here!

        3. Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe the World by William H. McRaven

          If you want to change the world, start by making your bed.

          Make Your Bed is a book which outlines the lessons contained in a speech given by Admiral William H. McRaven. In this speech, he shared the 10 principles he learned during Navy Seal training that helped him overcome the various challenges he faced throughout his career.

          This speech went viral, gaining over 10 million views as it clearly explained how anyone can use these lessons to better both themselves and the world around them. This book recounts tales from his service and offers simple and practical wisdom and words of advice and encouragement which will inspire readers to achieve more in their daily lives!

          Get the book here!

          4. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

            The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is a wonderful story about an inspiring journey towards self-discovery. Mysticism and wisdom combine in this classic novel that has sold millions of copies worldwide.

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            This story outlines the journey of a young shepherd boy who desires to travel the world in search of treasure but ends up discovering a vastly different type of riches than he initially imagined.

            Overall, this book encourages each of us to listen to our hearts, recognize our unique opportunities in life, and pursue our passions.

            Get the book here!

            5. Smarter, Faster, Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

              Charles Duhigg’s Smarter, Faster, Better outlines 8 productivity concepts that help certain companies and individuals accomplish so much more than others. This book outlines the differences between the perspectives of some of the worlds top performers and those who are less successful.

              These productivity concepts explain how everyday people can improve their everyday lives. Overall, this book can help anyone learn how to succeed and ensure that their average day is productive and not just busy.

              Get the book here!

              6. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

                Don Miguel Ruiz uses his book The Four Agreements to reveal the limiting beliefs that we commonly hold which rob us of joy and cause us to endure needless suffering. This book provides an insightful code of conduct which imparts its wisdom in an accessible manner to its readers.

                The Four Agreements encourages self-reflection and encourages us to do better within our everyday lives. This is why the book has sold over 6 million copies in the U.S. alone and has been a New York Times bestseller for over 8 years.

                Get the book here!

                7. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth

                  In this book, psychologist Angela Duckworth, takes her readers on a journey to argue that the secret to being a success relies largely on an individual’s grit, a unique blend of passion and persistence.

                  The insights offered by Duckworth in this book encourage us to never underestimate the power of consistent, long-term action towards a goal, especially when you’re passionate about it.

                  Duckworth addresses the thoughts which commonly intrude into our heads when we fail and gives us methods to combat them.

                  If the idea that success is about your perseverance and your ability to persist even when times get tough resonates with you, this is one of the motivational books for you.

                  Get the book here!

                  8. Mindset: the New Psychology for Success by Carol S. Dweck

                    Psychologist Carol Dweck outlines years of research in her book Mindset. She argues that the mindset we adopt is a huge predictor of our success and achievement. She believes that nearly every area of human endeavor can be influenced by the mindset we adopt and how we select to approach our goals.

                    She discusses the downsides of adopting a fixed mindset as well as the benefits commonly associated with adopting a growth-oriented mindset. Whereas one mindset believes our abilities are fixed, the other believes our skills and abilities can be developed assuming we are willing to put in the effort.

                    This is a highly motivating paradigm shift which can encourage amazing accomplishments.

                    Get the book here!

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                    9. Choose Yourself by James Altucher

                      Choose Yourself by James Altucher is one of the best motivational books around. James argues that the most valuable asset we have and the one which we should be investing the most time, effort, and resources into is — ourselves. This whole book is about how we can achieve success simply by choosing to invest in ourselves and our growth.

                      This book is sure to inspire and motivate you to invest in developing your talents further and would be an excellent resource for anyone with an entrepreneurial mindset.

                      Get the book here!

                      10. High-Hanging Fruit: Build Something Great by Going Where No One Else Will by Mark Rampolla

                        High-hanging Fruit by Mark Rampolla encourages us to reach higher in our life endeavors, especially business if we want to achieve more success and leave our mark on the world.

                        In this novel, the reader is encouraged to find ways to align their passion, purpose, and integrity to achieve success. These lessons can benefit anyone in any field of work and encourage us to stand up for our beliefs and what’s important to us.

                        Overall, Rampolla wants each of us to remain true to our ore values so that we can each reach our personal definitions of success and promote significant changes in areas of life we are passionate about.

                        Get the book here!

                        11. The Power of Positive Thinking: 10 Traits for Maximum Results by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale

                          This international bestseller has sold over 5 million copies worldwide and has helped many people live more fulfilling lives through adopting Dr. Peale’s message of faith and inspiration.

                          Not only does this book help people to achieve happiness and higher levels of life-satisfaction, but it also teaches us that each life is worthwhile.

                          This book instills a belief in one’s self and a feeling of determination and motivation to pursue our goals with power, control, and persistence.

                          Overall, it’s a great motivational book for those individuals seeking a boost of motivation in their daily lives.

                          Get the book here!

                          12. Girl Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis

                            When it comes to motivational books, Rachel Hollis nails it!

                            Girl, Stop Apologizing was written primarily for a female audience she was trying to inspire. She wrote this book because all too often, she was seeing women failing to live up to their full potential due to the fear of falling short of perfection and not being enough.

                            In this New York Times #1 bestselling author, Rachel seeks to send a wake-up call to the women currently defining themselves through the lens established by other individuals, instead of how they wish to define themselves.

                            She encourages women everywhere to stop talking themselves out of their dreams and to begin fully pursuing them. To help her audience she provides a lot of great information regarding which excuses we should say goodbye to, which habits to adopt, and the skills that will provide you with the confidence to live your best life!

                            Get the book here!

                            13. Now, Discover Your Strengths By Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton

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                              This book takes a unique approach, claiming that not anyone can become anything they want, despite what we were told as children. However, when discussed in-depth, the opinion is quite freeing.

                              This book’s main purpose is to encourage us to ignore those routes which are likely to lead us to dead ends, in favor of pursuing those which we are passionate about and that are more likely to bring us greater success and happiness.

                              Why waste so much time trying to fix our weaknesses when we can double-down on our strengths and allow them to flourish and grow?

                              Definitely think about adding this one to your collection of motivational books.

                              Get the book here!

                              14. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

                                This book, originally published in 1937, was written during the Great Depression and addresses the highly effective and important steps to take if we wish to encourage ourselves to become wealthy. Equally important, Hill outlines the steps we should avoid in this process as well.

                                Readers have continually enjoyed some of the timeless information, words of wisdom, and excellent advice that is presented by Hill in this book. This book is about so much more than getting rich; it’s about figuring out how to get what you want from life!

                                Get the book here!

                                15. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson

                                  In this self-help guide, Mark Manson tells us to cut it out and to stop trying to be positive all the time so that we can figure out what we need to do to truly become better and happier people.

                                  This book offers a refreshing take which counters the motivational books currently out there. Mark refuses to sugarcoat his lessons and tells it how it is through his brutally honest approach. Mark encourages us to accept our faults and limitations, the fact that life is not always fair, and that despite our best efforts, not everybody is going to win.

                                  Overall, this book presents some great philosophical wisdom for our modern generation and has empowered many individuals to gain control over their actions and their life as a whole.

                                  Get the book here!

                                  16. Everything Is F*cked by Mark Manson

                                    Mark Manson follows his previous #1 international bestseller with this guide discussing the problems we currently have surrounding hope.

                                    Despite believing that we live in the best time in human history, Mark outlines that everything seems to be pretty messed up. There is global warming, corrupt governments, collapsing economies, and everyone is getting offended far too easily. Mark examines our relationships with money, entertainment, and the internet, and discusses that too much of these good things can destroy us.

                                    In this book, Mark challenges us to be more open and honest with ourselves and to connect more with the world around us.

                                    Get the book here!

                                    17. Hustle: The Power to Charge Your Life with Money, Meaning, and Momentum by Neil Patel

                                      Hustle offers a game-changing guide to finding success by encouraging us to outsmart the system. Too many of us feel like we’re fighting a system that’s stacked against us and forcing us to live unfulfilling lives. This book will encourage you to break free from the rat-race and begin achieving more success on your terms through projects you actually enjoy!

                                      This book will help you redefine what hustling means and will help you realize your best path to success is through taking charge of your dreams, creating your own luck, and staying true to yourself.

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                                      If you’re looking for actionable and practical advice that goes beyond simply motivating you, this is a book you will certainly enjoy reading.

                                      Get the book here!

                                      18. Unfu*k Yourself by Gary John Bishop

                                        This book presents a refreshing take on self-empowerment and provides an honest, no-nonsense, tough-love guide which aims to help you challenge and get over your self-limiting beliefs

                                        In this book, Bishop gives you the tools and advice required to overcome your self-imposed limitations and to begin creating your unrestrained best-self. He argues that commonly, it isn’t other people standing in our way nor is it our circumstances. Commonly, it’s our negative mindsets and beliefs which are holding us back.

                                        So if you’re looking for motivational books to help you get over these limiting beliefs, you will not regret investing in this novel.

                                        Get the book here!

                                        19. The 5 Second Rule: Transform Your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage by Mel Robbins

                                          In The 5 Second Rule, Mel Robbins reminds us of the vast amount of support we have received from individuals throughout our lives; and that this should push and motivate us to overcome the excuses we have created to impede our progress and achievement.

                                          Through discussing a variety of different habits and entertaining stories, Mel Robbins argues that it only takes us about 5 seconds to become confident, stop procrastination, overcome fear, and live overall happier lifestyles. Just like we can all hold ourselves back, we can also push ourselves forward.

                                          This is a motivational book that is great for anyone looking to quickly add a positive push to their daily life.

                                          Get the book here!

                                          20. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

                                            This novel which shared the wisdom Mitch Albom received from his college professor Morrie Schwartz, has sold over 12 million copies around the world.

                                            In this book, Mitch joins Morrie through the final months of his dying professor’s life every Tuesday to discuss the important messages of life in a truly beautiful and heartwarming fashion.

                                            In the end, the two come together to create one final class: lessons on how to live a good life.

                                            This book is going to inevitably touch your heart and inspire you in ways many other motivational books could never even dream of doing.

                                            Get this book here!

                                            Final Thoughts

                                            If you are able to pick up even just 2 or 3 of these motivational books, you will be well on your way to living a more inspired life.

                                            Happy reading and stay motivated!

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                                            Featured photo credit: Florencia Viadana via unsplash.com

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