06 December 2005

How do you get out of a rut?

Today's post is not an answer but a question: When you are stuck in a rut, how do you get out of it?

[Update: Read the comments to this post -- a lot of great ideas there.]

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8 comments:

BC said...

meditation

Mel said...

Remove yourself from the problem. If it's a task issue, switch to a different bit of work. If it's a work thing, go home and build something with your kids. If it's a life thing, take a vacation and go somewhere you've never been before, doing something you've never done before. The key is to not think about the rut for a while and be able to go back to it with fresh eyes, which means you've got to do something else so you're not worrying about it. I've found that setting an alarm reminder on my computer to remind me to go back to that issue an hour or day or week from them frees up my mind considerably to do other things (rather than worrying that I'll forget).

If you can't do that, try to get a bigger perspective on that rut; talk to a friend or mentor, especially one that's removed themselves from a similar rut. Usually it's not as big a deal as you think it is.

If you're alone, short on time, and stuck, I've found playing the piano or going for a run to be the best ways to get my mind off something for a while.

When you come back to it, try to shake your thinking loose - there are zillions of brainstorming techniques out there, but trying to combine your problem with, say, a tomato - or make your project usable by midgets, or practice your speech in a British accent, or whatever you can do to get something random in there to jar you loose.

Disclaimer: I'm a student, so these work for me and school/research work. Your mileage may vary.

thambi said...

detach - refresh - attach

Graeme Watson said...

If your stuck in a rut you don't have to remove yourself, just change something, anything...

think realistically, if you were really STUCK IN A RUT, you would swerve left, swerve right, slow down, speed up, go backwards, stop, dig a bigger hole, push the car harder, ask for help...

but whatever you do, it's change.

Paul Monaco said...

I find the hard part is actually finding the ambition to get out of it. There seems to be a certain comfort in repating the same patterns. Breaking that pattern causes stress.

Once I commit to the change and work through the temporary stress, the new pattern is refreshing.

Noah said...

I first try to zoom out. What's the bigger issue at hand. I find most of the time when I'm stuck it's because I'm concetrating too much on tactics and have missed something. If that doesn't work I step away for awhile and try to look at it with a fresh mind and different situation. If I'm really stuck on a problem at work, for instance, I'll work on other things for the rest of the day and try thinking about it the next morning on the walk to work. I find the combination of change in environment and fresh mind is extremely helpful.

Tom Brzezina said...

First off, you have to admit to yourself that you're IN a rut.

Next, I think it was Einstein who said something about the thinking that got you into a problem won't get you out of it. Change your thinking. Edward DeBono has some pretty good advice for doing that.

Finally, get help. A fresh pair of eyes may see a way out that you don't see.

Gregg Turnbull said...

I agree that immediate change is needed, but change in what. The immediate fix that fills the mind is to change environment, change scenery...instead of black coffee try some cream and sugar.
Another change is that of perspective. Re-evaluate why you are doing what you are doing. What is your goal? Did you have a passion that has diminshed? If so, why? If your passion has left long ago and your only companion is daily disappointment and your inspirational calendars which fail to inspire you, then run. If you can pinpoint what is weighing you down, making you drag your feet, digging a rut, toss it.