Stuck? Get Moving Again With These Simple Steps

Next weekend we’re moving. This week we all had the stomach flu. Needless to say our routines and plans were blown out of the water.

I’m sure you know the sinking feeling of finally feeling well enough to get out of your sick-bed only to be greeted by mess and chaos everywhere in your home.

You’re so overwhelmed you don’t know where to start and crawling back to bed sounds like the best option.

At times like these I rely on two simple strategies.

1. Do Something To Completion

It doesn’t matter if it’s sorting the mail, doing the dishes, or cleaning the bathroom.  Just do something that needs doing.

If I can make myself complete one thing that needs doing it inevitably gives me a boost of energy and hope. That boost is enough to help me start the next obvious task, and I’m soon on my way.

If that one task is all I can manage, at least I know I have a clean bathroom as I crawl back into bed.

2. Clarify – Then Act

When I notice that I’m puttering around, not really accomplishing anything important, I know I need to stop running in place and put my thinking cap on.

I have a note on my desk that reminds me to do the heavy thinking before the heavy lifting. It has two words:


Before we can move forward, we need to identify that right direction to move.

Ask clarifying questions like “What exactly is the problem?” and “What do I really want?” or “If I were to move on this project, what would be the very next step I could take?”

Worrying is not productive thought. If we’ve spent too much time worrying about something then we have all the more reason to stop spinning our wheels and ask ourselves the hard clarifying questions.

I find it extremely helpful to assure myself that I don’t have to act now, I just have to find clarity. That turns off the more fearful part of my brain and allows me to think more clearly.

Once my fears are in words and my problem is clear, it’s often rather easy to think of some simple and concrete action that will bring me closer to my goal.

Don’t overthink it, though.

Once you’ve found some clarity, take the very next step.

Often we want to see the whole path before we take the first step, but any project with some complexity will never be clear from start to finish.

Take the first step and you’ll see what the next few steps should be.

Clarify. Act. Repeat.

Where are you stuck?



Then share your story to encourage us all!

5 thoughts on “Stuck? Get Moving Again With These Simple Steps”

  1. I found Strategy #1 helpful just last night. I was totally overwhelmed by a burden of urgent projects all of which are of high priority, have looming deadlines, and require concentrated thinking. I was completely spinning my wheels, because I wanted to do them all and because I was in a situation where focused thinking was impossible.

    Oddly enough, what finally kicked me out of neutral was discovering yet another project demanding my attention. It had an even more urgent deadline (the end of the day) which gave it highest priority and halted the “this is most important, no this is, no that!” cycle. And while it required work, thought, and some decision-making, this particular project had a structure and a pathway that I had followed many times before. I was able to focus, ignore distractions, get the job done, and go to bed with the satisfaction of good work accomplished. Thus I awoke this morning with less dread of the looming deadlines and more energy to face the work.

    I can’t overemphasize the clarity and efficiency of action that the well-known structure and pathway gave me. Perhaps this is part of what you mean in Strategy #2. We can’t always travel familiar pathways, but it’s very helpful to know that (1) making forward progress on a project with a clear and comfortable structure empowers us to tackle more challenging work, and (2) time spent creating structures (finding clarity?) is not wasted, but lays the foundation for good results. I’m still working on the last — I tend to see the urgent need for results and try to jump right into the work.

  2. What a timely post! I have realised in the last few weeks that I have slipped back into my old habit of using my brain to remember things, and we all know that’s a bad idea! I need to move back to a paper/digital system! So my clarify action is actually to Clarify (capital C) with a brain dump, so I’m printing out the brain dump trigger list from the GTG blog, and attacking it!

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