Q3: What do you do when you’re stalled on the job?

By , November 6, 2009

Here’s answer #3 of 12 Questions I think are important for commercial writers to know. I think these questions are especially important for people newly striking out on their own.

Have you ever had times when you just can’t work out the next phase of your project? How about this: you stare at the screen and your notes and your tasks list, and you can’t decide which way to go. If it sounds familiar, you’re not alone. And, you should know right off, it’s not nearly as bad as it feels.

Following are some things that I have in my arcenal that have helped me through the roadblocks that I’ve come to. I thought they might help you to.

Why Am I Stalled?

It’s important to get to the heart of the matter, know what puts the brakes on for you. The way to get going again is to figure out what’s giving you the red light, and move it out of the way.

Simple Solutions are What’s Needed

Some things you can do to be ready for work, and use after things get stalled.

  • Order tasks to get them done expeditiously
  • If you’re dragging on one project and have time and space, take a break and switch to another one.
  • Take breaks to stretch in place or take a walk around your office, as time permits
  • Sometimes it’s a case of exhaustion; get more rest
  • Eat energy foods for lunch
  • A nap before lunch can go a long way for afternoon stamina
  • For physical ailments, it may take more investigation but get to the root of the problem

You can try these when you have more time to get rejuvenated, to get going again.

  • Meditation: dismiss thoughts of your project; especially if it’s full of too many thoughts overlapping your work thoughts
  • Physical Activity: vigorous activity increases endorphins which can improve alertness
  • Drinking water: replenishes your body and can improve alertness; I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how good it is for you
  • Switching tasks: to keep yourself fresh, take a break from your task when time permits
  • Journaling: to get a clear perspective on your life. When you can’t shake personal things that threaten major distractions, sometimes it helps to write through them
  • Slow down: You need to get your head back in the game. Automatic pilot can take you out of place and allow your mind to wander to places not immediately useful. It happens that way for me. Slowing down actually helps to re-focus on work. Being in the moment with your work is quite productive
  • Take time to think: This is a big one. Many people don’t write thinking on their to-do lists. And the rules of conventional employment condition us to think our hands should not be free to accomplish this. Guess what, it’s a good idea to stop moving, working, performing and just think

If you have tips for getting through your sluggish times, please share them here or in your blog, with a link back.

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