How to get unstuck

I have had a problem for the last two weeks. I've been sick and all sorts of other things have been going on as well. So I kind of lost my writing and productivity groove. Now I feel like I have so much to get back on track on, that there's no chance i'll be able to do everything. And all my life, I've had the problem of having too much to do, but now it's even worse. 

We all have a different definition of what success is to us. Some think it's money. Some think it's fame. But something we all could agree on is that it takes productivity to get success. Luck is a thing, but it's rare, and you can't count on it. 
So we have to do things to get somewhere. 

But what if you feel stuck, and can't get anything done? 

If you're in a rut, unable to fill in all the little boxes in your great, endless to-do list, here is what you should do: 

1. Reevaluate your goals. 

We tend to overestimate what we can do in a year, but underestimate what we can do in a month (Tim Ferriss).

New Year is not the only time to think of and set goals. To be productive, you have to be constantly reevaluating and re-prioritizing. It's not enough to do it once, twice or even five times a year.

If you feel like you can't get anything done, the problem is often in your goals. Either they're too big, or your priorities are wrong. One tip I heard some time ago was that you should set three goals per year, three goals per month and three goals per week. This way you can always see how your smaller goals fit with your big ones, and if you're actually getting any progress.

After you think about your goals and make changes, you also need to make a new plan to achieve them.

You have to take small steps every day, and we have a plan to know what those steps are.

If you want to write a novel, it's easier to chop the amount of work into smaller chunks, like chapters or scenes. With a plan that consists of small goals, your bigger goals feel more achievable. If you do not yet have a plan for your goals, make one. Like, now.

2. Focus on one thing at a time. 

I have a problem with trying to do everything at once. We call it multitasking, but a more suiting term would be productivity-murdering. Instead, if you try to focus on one thing at a time and give that task all of your attention, you'll get it done much faster, and it will also give you a self confidence boost to help you in your next task. 

As you make your plan for reaching your goals, prioritize. Try to be focused and finish tasks one at a time.

Let me repeat that because this is important:

Finish tasks one at a time.

3. Change your environment. 

When I feel like a scene is particularly difficult to write, I often go to write in a different location. I am not sure about the psychology of it, but it always helps. Changing your surroundings will change your mindset for productivity. Even if it's just a different room, or a different part of the room, going somewhere else for a moment will definitely help with your productivity. 

Also, when you're taking a break, don't stay in the same place. Go for a walk, look out the window for a while or go into another room and stretch or something. This will help your mind clear up as you get back to work, and you can see what you're creating in a different way. 

4. Set a timer. 

If your workload feels overwhelming, you should set the timer for 20 minutes, work as hard as you can for that time period, and then take a break. This technique is also called the pomodoro technique, and it has become more popular in recent years. 

Ever since my first Nanowrimo, I've done writing sprints. What you do is that you take your timer, set it for 5-30 minutes, and then write until the timer sets off. In Nanowrimo it is often a fun competition, where you see how many words you can write in that time and then compare your results to your writing buddies'. 

It's not only super fun, but it's helped me win Nanowrimo two times. It makes writing much easier, and faster, too. 

5. Clean up. 

This sounds weird, but cleaning or arranging helps with getting unstuck. I often it do by accident as a way to procrastinate, but afterwards I am able to be so much more productive.

As writers, we are often messy people, and our desks are full of piles of maps, character profiles, timelines, chapter outlines and loose post-it notes. Just cleaning those piles into a folder can help you organize your mind.

While you organize, your brain has time to process the information in front of you and the information already in your head. There are so many things to remember when writing a book that sometimes your mind gives up and gets blocked.

Just like running helps you clear your mind and get energized, cleaning helps you sort all the information into the right places so that your brain can keep working. 

I hope these tips help you get unstuck, if you're feeling like you're getting nowhere. I'm going through a period like this right now, and writing these things down and finally getting a blog post out really helped me get back into the productivity groove of things.

Sometimes you just have to force yourself to do stuff, especially if it's hard. Because if you really want something, you will have enough willpower. Even if it feels impossible. 

When you are overwhelmed, simplify. In the end, it's really not that complicated. If you want results, you need to work for them. If you want to have finished product, you need to finish it. 

Really, it's that simple.

And when you feel like there are a thousand things on your plate, it's very hard to see that it's actually not as impossible as your brain makes it out to be. You are in control of yourself, and you can do anything. 

See you soon! I'd love to hear about the results you get with these techniques. Please comment below and tell me if they are helpful to you, and what I might have missed :)

Love, Em.

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