Whether you’re trying to create a presentation, write an article, or compose an email, nothing is worse than having a mental block you just can’t seem to bust through. It invokes the same feelings of frustration and panic you experience as when you know you need to get to sleep but can’t. But, don’t let those feelings get the better of you. Try these five quick tips to overcome your block and finish the task at hand.
Turn Off the Distractions
Despite what you may have been told, multi-tasking is a myth. In fact, multi-tasking actually delays your progress and delivers poorer results, according to research from Stanford University. So shut down the email, unplug the phone, and close any unnecessary computer programs so you can focus on the task at hand.
Consider the Why
Sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of why you’re doing something. Think beyond just the need to check something off your to-do list and visualize what you want to happen as a result of your effort. If you can’t fully comprehend the end result, then you probably don’t have all the information you need to start this project in the first place.
Let Go of Perfectionism
Give yourself permission to not get it perfect the first time. The pressure to immediately produce something that is free of flaws is unrealistic, and will only serve to further squelch your creativity and ability to think. You can always go back later and make corrections once you have written your general thoughts down.
Getting something – anything – down on your paper or screen can often serve as the final push that completely breaks through your mental block. For some reason, going from a completely blank page to a page with a few thoughts scribbled on it can make a huge difference. Just keep putting your ideas down on paper until you have your break-through moment.
If nothing else is helping, try to just shut it down and walk away for a while. Have a quick coffee break, try focusing on another project for a while, or take your lunch break. Sometimes even walking away from your desk and talking through the project with a teammate can be just what you need to get your spark back.
The good news is, just like sleep eventually comes when you’re tired, your mental block will dissolve and you’ll be able to complete your task. Just make sure you don’t give up too quickly when you first hit your block – there is a great feeling of accomplishment on the other side if you just push through!