It’s time to take a closer look at your back burner. You know, the place where you shove aside the projects or decisions you’re not quite sure what to do with.
Stuck projects can clutter up your desk and your mind, reduce your productivity and weigh you down. You may feel bored, restless, unmotivated, unchallenged and uncreative.
Eventually, stuck projects can erode your confidence and motivation, and begin to affect more than just your job. Stress at work can quickly lead to stress at home, and low confidence can keep you from doing the things that might improve your life or health.
The good news is that if you can get unstuck on small projects sooner, you can avoid a big problem later on.
Here’s what you’ll need:
Taking an honest look and admitting that you’re stuck takes courage. You’ll also need courage for other steps in this process—opening your mind to new ideas, taking action and, in some cases, making the tough choice to walk away from a project that wasn’t right for you to begin with.
Einstein said that you can’t solve a problem with the same thinking that created it. So, if you’re stuck, try to shake up your thinking with some new information (do more research) or a new perspective (get feedback from someone outside of the situation).
Or try some new stimuli and evoke your senses with a novel taste, scent or view. Bring your project notes to the coffee shop or the beach. If you can’t get away, close your eyes and take an imaginary trip instead.
Do some brainstorming. Invite yourself to think out of the box—don’t censor yourself at all based on the current reality that you know; imagine that anything is possible. Try using crayons instead of a pen or computer; use pictures instead of words.
It’s tempting to avoid a project or decision you’re stuck about. You might throw yourself into “busy work,” or procrastinate and do nothing. Neither of those approaches will get your project off the back burner.
Don’t try to tackle the entire project at once. Make a commitment to yourself and to one other person that you’ll spend a specific amount of time (5-15 minutes) on just one small action related to this project.
Choose one step that you know you can complete, so that you can build on that sense of satisfaction to make your next commitment.
Here’s where you’ll need that courage again. It’s time to look at WHY you got stuck on this particular project, and to consider getting it off your desk for good. What is it about this project that’s keeping you stuck?
1. Maybe you didn’t want to take it on in the first place.
2. Maybe it goes against your personal values.
3. Maybe you’re not sure what’s expected of you or how to complete it.
4. Maybe it doesn’t fit your skills and talents.
5. Maybe you’re not interested in it and have no emotional connection to it.
If any of those are the case, you could free up your energy by either scrapping this project, revising the project terms or delegating it to someone who’s better suited to it.
Getting stuck happens to the best of us. Getting unstuck can free you up to accomplish what you’re meant to accomplish, one small project at a time.