How I Get Unstuck

Yesterday I got stuck.
So stuck, in fact, that I got very little done, let alone writing. I had my list of tasks that I was meant to work on, but I just couldn’t make marked progress on any of them. Sure, I’ve talked about I’ve used Unstuck to get out of situations like this — most recently on the Unstuck site itself — but even it wasn’t going to help me this time around. That’s because this kind of “stuck” was brought on by forces outside of my work life, and I knew it was only going to be temporary.

Still, it was frustrating.

So I tried other ways to get out that state of “stuckness” instead. I’ve used all of these methods at one time or another when the events of an email gone wrong or some other item of note has me off my game. If you’re anything like me, you’ll find some of the following helpful in your war against stuck.

Walk Away

The first thing I’ll do is walk away from my computer and try something else. Often I’ll do the dishes or tidy up around the house in order to get my mind in a place where it can start to tackle the work challenges once again. A change of pace and scenery can do wonders, and I have found that simply by walking away that I have a renewed sense of vigor when I return to the keyboard.


Another thing I’ll do to get unstuck is to exercise. The best way for me to get back into some sort of flow is to go for a run, with or without a soundtrack of some sort playing through my earbuds. Further to that, I’m using the Nike+ Running app to monitor how I’m doing and I’ve connected it to Path so that my inner circle of friends using it can cheer me on. That combination of getting my body moving and having my friends there in the background to pat me on the back when I’m done creates both a sense of accomplishment and gets my mind moving again.


I really do like cooking…and lately I haven’t been doing enough of it. So I’m trying to use instances of stuck to get me back into the hobby. Cooking is one of those hobbies that can serve a larger purpose when you’ve got a family to feed (unlike my newest hobby, building up a beer cellar). I’ve been adding recipes to Basil regularly, but I’ll often just pull out one of the paper-based cookbooks we have and start going. Whether it’s baking fresh croutons or making a killer slow-cooked dish, making food can also increase my appetite for making words when I’m stuck in the deepest sense of the word.

Video Games

I don’t play many video games at all. But when I do, it’s almost always on my XBOX 360 and it’s usually when I’m stuck and need to find my way out. The games I play have an ending, though…and fairly quick ones at that. I generally play sports games (football, hockey, etc.) because I can play one game at a time and get sucked in too deep. I’ve enjoyed playing RPGs in the past — and still do so in my leisure time — but when I know I’m stuck I don’t play those. It can be too tempting to stay in that world instead of coming back into the real world….and that’s a whole different kind of stuck that you don’t want to find yourself in.

Switch Up Your Tools

One of the reasons I have several apps as part of my workflow is that when I get stuck I can use any one of them to help me get out. I can use:

  • EISENHOWER to help me get my priorities in order
  • 30/30 to help me allocate time to certain tasks (if I want to go that route)
  • My Minutes to look at what areas I’m trying to spend time in “deliberate practice” on (like guitar) and shift into one of those areas instead of the one I’m stuck in

There are other I’ll use (like *bloom to push me into something more unconventional to do that might get me out of my funk or Day One to journal my way out), and there’s also paper to work with — which I use regularly.

Whether it is switching up the app you’re using to get you back into the groove or switching up the platform you’re using (going from digital to analog, for example), it can really help to get me out of that state of “stuckness” by using a different tool.

You’re going to get stuck every once in a while — that’s inevitable. That’s not the problem. The problem is when you spend too much time being stuck; that’s when productivity can really grind to a halt. I invite you to try any or all of the above to help you get out of “stuck”, and get into getting things done.

(And if you’ve got some suggestions on how to get unstuck, let me know. I’d love to hear them and give them a try.)