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How to Get Unstuck and Get Back On Track to Achieving Your Goals

How to Get Unstuck and Get Back On Track to Achieving Your Goals

Ah, procrastination—the silent killer of dreams.

You’re probably familiar with the feeling you get when you know there is something you ought to be doing, but you just can’t seem to get to it. When you’re feeling stuck, motivating yourself to get going is just the hardest thing to do. Maybe you’ve experienced this yourself: the sneaky voice that suggests you contemplate giving up on what you really want…

“Downsize your dreams.”

“Compromise.”

“Don’t reach so high… you’ll only be disappointed”, it says.

It’s not your fault you have these feelings of doubt now and again—not at all—and the really good news is there is something you can do to get unstuck right now. This method doesn’t involved trying to motivate yourself artificially, but it does involve getting back into your natural flow.

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Let me explain:

1. Find your natural flow

Have you ever had those times when things just seem easy? When everything falls into place, and you bounce from one task to the next effortlessly; time flies by, and your productivity goes through the roof whilst everything is harmonious and fun.

You know what I mean, don’t you? These are the times when you are working to your natural flow.

Now by contrast, when you’re not in your natural flow is when you feel STUCK. Everything seems to take forever, and each task gets more and more tedious, almost like your energy is being zapped out of you. I bet you’ve also had times like this too… am I right?

Well, don’t despair, because there is a way out of it, and it’s easier than goal setting. It doesn’t involve discovering your life purpose, and it doesn’t mean you have to rely on pure willpower and determination.

In fact, the solution lies in two simple lists. More on this shortly.

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2. Understand the root cause of your pain

The pain and frustration you experience lies in doing things that keep you out of your flow. You see, we’re all wired in our own ways, and while some of us light up in front of an audience, others may feel that giving a speech is the biggest stress they could ever imagine.

While some people love picking up the phone or networking, others thrive on the detail of a spreadsheet or a process map.

The point is, there are some things we each love to do, that are within our natural flow, and there are things that make us feel stuck.

The key to getting back into flow and overcoming the stuck-ness is simply a case of spending a greater proportion of your day on tasks that are within your flow. The degree to which you can do this, is the degree to which you will THRIVE.

The first thing we need to do is define when you are in flow, and when you are stuck.

3. Create a tale of two lists

These two lists are things that anyone who masters anything is on some level aware of as they go about their day. Here is the quick-fire way that you can adopt the same approach and make it work for you—starting right now:

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  • Step 1: Grab a pen and paper and divide it into two columns. At the top of the first column write the title “Things That I’m Doing When I’m Stuck”. At the top of the second column, write “Things That I’m Doing When I’m in Flow”.
  • Step 2: Think of all the times you’ve been stuck, and write down the tasks you were doing in the first column.
  • Step 3: Now think of all the things that you put off, or dread doing. They should also go in the “stuck” column.
  • Step 4: Now do the same for all the times you’ve been in flow, and pop those into the second column.
  • Step 5: You guessed it; now you need to think of all the tasks you look forward to doing and put those in the second column too.

Great job!

Now what you’ve effectively done is create a Flow List and a Stuck List, and these can then form the basis of all your decisions around where you choose to put your focus.

Essentially, what you want to do is to spend the maximum amount of time on things in your flow list, and a minimum time on things your stuck list.

If you can do this—either by picking your projects carefully, outsourcing or reallocating tasks within your team—you will very quickly find that being stuck is a thing of the distant past!

You’re in the driving seat!

Okay, now it’s over to you.

Knowing about this won’t change the way you do things, but sitting down and making these two lists is the beginning. Once you’ve defined on paper the things that make you stuck and the things that keep you in flow, then you’re able to make productive decisions about what you do and don’t do.

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It all starts with getting those lists well defined first: you have to do something, and the easy and most productive thing you can do right now isn’t to try and get more stuff done.

Instead, it’s to define where you are in flow and where you are stuck, so let’s get those lists done now before you even click away.

Go ahead—grab a pen and paper and create your two lists now. You’ll be amazed at how quickly things start to shift for you.

Leave a comment and share some examples, or simply let us know how you got on with this very quick life hack! I read every comment, and I’m here to help.

To your inevitable success!

Featured photo credit: averie woodard via unsplash.com

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

3. Move Your Body

A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

4. Connect With Another Person

Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

5. Use Your Imagination

When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

Final Thoughts

Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

More on the Importance of Taking a Break

Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

Reference

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