I consider myself a fairly efficient and productive person — most of the time, I get a lot done and I get it done in the most effective way possible (in my humble opinion). At times, though, I find myself staring at my to-do list (which I swear grows before my eyes), not taking action on anything.
Recently, I’ve instituted a new rule for myself — whenever I stall out, I ask myself one (shockingly) simple question to get back into action.
As in, “Why are you stalled, Cristina?” (Yes, sometimes Cristina talks about herself in third person).
Depending on the task, the reasons why I’m stalling vary. Because we love transparency, here are some specific examples:
TASK: Coworking directory outreach
Why I was stalling: I wasn’t exactly sure what we wanted to say when we reached out to coworking spaces and I didn’t have a concrete list of who we wanted to reach out to.
How I solved it: I broke this task into three to-dos: 1) draft an outreach template and send it to Sara for review (this got my ideas out of my head and onto “paper” and let her weigh in with her ideas); 2) make a list of 10 coworking spaces to reach out to, starting with the obvious ones — spaces where I know people (10 felt like a manageable number); and 3) do the actual outreach (and Boomeranging emails to come back in a week if I hadn’t heard back). Boom!
TASK: Work through affiliate marketing spreadsheet (where we track our efforts to increase affiliate revenue on the site).
Why I was stalling: I was intimidated because it felt like a huge undertaking with no end. I figured, “Why start if I can’t finish it right now?” Silly, I know.
How I solved it: The spreadsheet has about 15 columns, so I committed to tackling just the first column (adding all affiliate programs to our resources and tools page). Doing this sparked tons of ideas, so the other columns are slowly filling up!
TASK: Add new content to my ecourse.
Why I was stalling: I straight up just didn’t want to do it, partially because I thought it would take a long time.
How I solved it: I knew exactly what I needed to do, so I committed to working on it for 15 minutes. I was done in 10.
Task: Write a post featuring location independent individuals in non-conventional roles (think: not a designer, developer, or freelance writer).
Why I was stalling: I had done my initial research and realized that finding enough people to contribute just wasn’t feasible — even if I could find them, the effort I put in would far outweigh the benefits of the post.
How I solved it: I gave myself permission (and asked for Sara’s blessing) to “complete a project by dropping it” (thanks to Arianna Huffington, author of our first #OWSBookClub book, Thrive, for that one!). It was a good reminder that not every single idea needs to be acted on.
Look at that to-do list and identify why exactly you’re stalling. Then, follow this handy guide for getting back into action:
- If the issue is: you’re overwhelmed → break it into smaller tasks
- If the issue is: you don’t know what to do → figure out who to ask or where to find the answer (try asking in a Facebook Group or using the solution to everything, Google)
- If the issue is: you don’t want to do the task, but you need to → just commit to working on it for 15-20 minutes (the Pomodoro technique is great for just getting started)
- If the issue is: you don’t want to and don’t need to do it → drop it like it’s hot!
There are certainly other factors in play sometimes — maybe you truly don’t have enough time or you’re mentally drained — so in those cases, do what you need to do, be it
slamming gently closing your laptop and getting outside for some fresh air and screen-less time, taking a little staycation, fitting in some exercise, curling up for a power nap, or giving yourself permission to postpone some projects.
Go forth + get into action!