We all have days where we sit there, looking at a blank screen, wondering what to do next or, even worse, knowing what we have to do but our brains are drawing a blank.
Instead of sitting and staring and, in some cases, getting increasingly frustrated (which in turns leads to more sitting and staring), here are some ways to kick start those neurons and get inspired.
1. Accept you are in screen saver mode
Accept that right now is not going to be the time you write that killer pitch or close that tricky sale. Stop trying to flog a (temporarily) dead horse.
2. Do something else.
Have a to do list that is full of quick, easy tasks that you can do when you have hit that wall. Do them. Ideally, make it something that uses a different part of the brain to the part you are trying to use. So if you are trying to write a report, get up, do some filing. If you need to concentrate but can’t, make that phone call to get client feedback. The minute you accept you aren’t productive in the way you want to be at the moment, you can fill your time with something else.
3. Do something that pleases you
I love lists – actually, I love ticking things off lists. My husband loves an empty inbox. My colleague loves everything in its place. Whatever it is that you get that silly little buzz from, do that for a while. Get that little kick, then while you are riding on it, return to the job that stumped you. I bet you can tackle it now.
4. Look at the big picture
Ask yourself: What’s the worst that can happen if I don’t do this now? If the answer is: I have to do it later but that’s ok, then leave it. If the answer is something like: “if I don’t deliver this now, then I will fail to hit that client deadline, so will get a reputation for not being able to deliver which will mean I won’t get more work and will eventually get less work from other clients and then go bust”, then you might find you have motivated yourself to plough on.
5. Move, breathe, get out.
Countless of gurus, coaches, books etc say this and it’s true. Move – we call it “Taking a file for a walk round the office” – as much or as little as you can. Take a deep breath. Or two. Or three. Ideally “Get out”. This means change your scenery. Go and make a cup of coffee. Even better, walk to the cafe down the road and buy one.
6. Go to where you get inspired – or challenged
This is different for everyone and depends on what you are doing. It could mean reading various business articles to get new ideas or see things from a different perspective. It might mean calling a friend or colleague who always helps you see things differently. Whatever it is for you, know what it is and make it work for you.
Finally, have a complete and utter back-up plan for when it all goes hopelessly wrong. In the words of one friend, whose life and career went way off track and she was uninspired, bereft of the ability to solve her problems, “Screw this. I’m off to the beach”. 24 hours later she was in Thailand, returning 3 months later with bounce, zest, focus and a plan. It works for some people. Find out what works for you.