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Five Ways to Get Unstuck if You’re Stuck

It’s been a week. A really good week and an exhausting one at the same time. And yet there is no beer in the fridge.

According to the #YourTurn Challenge, Day 5 is advice day and the question is this: What advice would you give for getting unstuck?

Related, I have five pieces of advice, as follows:

1. Do it for 3 minutes. That’s it. Just work on the writing thing, the drawing thing, the cold call thing, the practicing piano thing, or the email thing for 180 seconds. If, after 180 seconds, you find that you’re still stuck, give yourself 3 hours to do something completely different. Then come back and try it again for 3 minutes. (Bonus: It’s how I wrote these blog posts. Sheer brute force.)

2. Reward yourself. Seriously, it works. I told myself that I would not be able to buy the Desk app that I have been wanting for a few weeks until I completed this 7-day writing challenge. Normally, I would have bought the app first and then hoped I would follow through. Nope. I’m following through and then getting the app as a well-deserved reward.

3. Get some sleep. Don’t push yourself on an empty stomach or a tired brain. Nothing good will come of it. You’ll get hangry at yourself or your family or your boyfriend and that piece of writing, that drawing, that call, that piano piece, or that email will be fetid. You don’t need that. You do need sleep. (Arianna says so, too.) But promise yourself that when you wake up refreshed, you will work on your project for 180 seconds.

4. Be kind to yourself. It takes months and sometimes years for people to find a way to get unstuck. It does not happen easily. I’m doing this challenge because I was so fed up with my procrastination and dissembling around shipping that this seemed the kindest way to fix the idea of writing. Beating up on myself was not working. I needed a vehicle that would help me and I’m thankful for Seth Godin and Winnie Kao for challenging me. And for their impeccable timing.

5. Put it on paper. That means throwing some notes on an empty part of the newspaper or writing it on a fancy Moleskine. Just put it on paper. Once it’s out there and in the world, you’ll find that the idea will stick to you. Maybe a bit like a spiky seed pod.

Extra bonus material. For what it’s worth, here are a few things that have not helped me get unstuck: paying someone to do the work for me, reading a book about getting unstuck — though it can be inspiring and I’ve read a few dozen of them, consuming alcohol, and eating great sushi. Just to be clear, none of these work.

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