13 strategies for getting refocused + unblocked at work

Writer’s block. Mental stagnation. Procrastination. Stuuuuuck. The worst feelings on earth if you’re trying to get something done!

Lately I’ve been feeling super stuck without a clue how to move forward. I sit down to be productive and eventually wind myself into a rabbit hole of random procrastination efforts (the last procrastination rabbit hole landed me on a website discussing the decline of Harajuku fashion in Tokyo. Seriously? How do I find this stuff?).

So how do we get refocused and unblocked once and for all?

The most important thing is to avoid beating yourself up about it or allowing yourself to get more stressed. Creativity can be a process and needs space for ideas to form and grow. I do not recommend stepping away completely, but rather spending a small amount of time focused on the project at hand and a large chunk of time pouring your energy into another creative project. Maybe one that doesn’t require specific results or a desired outcome.

What doesn’t require specific results? I’ve got a few ideas. Check them out below:

  1. Admit defeat. Maybe this isn’t the right timing. Allow yourself to walk away (if only just for a few minutes or a couple days) to unwind and reset. Intend to have a fresh idea in the morning.

  2. Color. Art can act as a moving meditation. Put on some good music, pull out the colored pencils and dust off that adult coloring book. Allow your mind to ease into creation-zone as you select new colors and slowly detach from the stuff you’re stuck on. Set a notebook next to your coloring station to jot down any ideas that may find their way into your brain as you meditate...ahem, I mean color.

  3. Go for a walk. Walk away from where you’re feeling stuck and just get out. Don’t think about what you need to get done on your walk. Think about how pretty that tree is, how fresh the air smells or what you want to eat for dinner. The point is to give your brain space for a fresh start. You’ll probably have a brilliant idea about how to get back on track by the time you round the corner back into your work space.

  4. Work in a coffee shop or new location. Sometimes just a change of environment can spark new ideas or scratch a different area of your creative mind. If you’re feeling edgy, order something outside of your usual iced coffee. The point is to shake up your life and start operating outside of your ordinary routine.

  5. Open a new word document and title it “Word Vomit.” Spew all the words, ideas, frustrations, new concepts and thoughts rolling around in your brain until it starts to clear out and you feel more at peace and clear-headed.

  6. Give the work to somebody else who will actually enjoy it. Is it absolutely necessary that YOU complete this project you’re struggling through? If not, pass it off to someone who cares and get busy doing something more meaningful to you.

  7. Sweat. Go to an afternoon restorative yoga class (my fav) or sprint around the block a few times. Allow your analyzer to take a break and pump some endorphins into your brain. You’ll thank yourself you did.

  8. Set a timer. We need breaks. Frequent breaks. Set a timer and get busy for 30-45 minutes then get up, stretch, make some tea and treat yourself to a 5 minute breather. Whatever you do, remember to find joy in the process.

  9. Get to the root of the cause. Answer these questions after taking 5 long, slow, deep breaths with your eyes closed: Why do I feel stuck? Where is the frustration resonating in my body? How can I nurture myself through this? What do I need to move forward with ease and grace?

  10. Avoid booze and get to bed early. If you’re really struggling, set yourself up for success by gifting your body with a good, full night sleep and a clear head. Replace alcohol or other substances with sleepytime tea and take a boring book to bed. Your Mind-Body will thank you in the morning.

  11. Make a lifestyle change. Develop a morning routine that involves journaling. I use my journaling practice like a repository for my thoughts and feelings–just pouring my fears, frustrations, dreams and intentions for the day onto the page over my morning coffee. I’ve noticed I’m less inclined to procrastinate throughout my day when I set specific goals and I’m typically more focused when I give voice to any fears or problems I’m experiencing before my day kicks off officially.

  12. Meditate. I recommend this if you’ve developed a meditation practice already (If you haven’t, I highly suggest starting one! Just 5-10 minutes a day can be life changing.) Meditation is a great way to calm your mind down and shift your focus off distractions and reconnect with the present moment. Simply close your eyes and focus on your breath. Count 1 for every inhale, 2 for every exhale. Repeat for each breath...1 (inhale)...2 (exhale)...1 (inhale) and so on. If you find your mind is too stimulated to relax, try coloring instead.

  13. Take the pressure off. Are you fishing for sharks before learning how to bait the hook? In other words, are your goals or aspirations bigger than you can handle at this time? Try working toward your goals one small step at a time. How can you break down the project at hand so it feels easier? More digestible.

Remember to let go of your expectations, get out and walk away–even if just for a few minutes and above all, focus on having fun! Make a ritual of taking regular breaks or setting your go-to reset button. There is usually going to be stuff on your plate that’s going to feel hard or make you uncomfortable. You’ll get through it. Or you’ll find someone else to help you through it. However you choose to overcome your obstacles, know that you’re not alone and tomorrow is a new day. And when all else fails, there’s always more to know about fashion in Harajuku.


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