We all get into them, and it takes some of us longer than others to get out of them. No, I'm not talking about the backseat of a two-door car (is anyone else completely inept at getting in and out of those?), but a rut. Sometimes it's a mental block, sometimes it's lack of inspiration. But that time doesn't have to be wasted. Here are my favorite ways to get stuff done even when I'm not feeling it.
1. Learn a new skill. One of my favorite ways to tackle a mental block is to pick something work-related that I want to learn how to do and get to work figuring out how to do it. For me, that something usually involves HTML, CSS, and Wordpress (I'm setting up a personal website for my freelancing), which I know will involve a good amount of time spent researching online. Google is a no-brainer.
2. Read up on your field. Back in my office days, I started each morning catching up on RSS feeds of nonprofit communications and higher education marketing blogs. As a result, I began almost every day with a new idea, and I was able to suggest new ways to do things and keep up with chatter at professional conferences.
3. Answer emails or do other "housekeeping" type tasks. Sometimes mental clutter is brought on by clutter elsewhere...your inbox, your desk, your life, etc. Forcing yourself to answer every email that you can in one sitting not only gets those things off your plate, but also lightens the pressure (which sometimes releases your mental block, too). Likewise, organizing random papers can bring to light some notes (and inspiration) that you'd forgotten about. If an abruptly ended conversation with a friend is still weighing on your mind, clear it up.
4. Do whatever it is you're avoiding. Just get it over with already. In journalism school there's a saying...write your first draft, delete everything but your last paragraph, and write your story using your last paragraph as your new lede. It doesn't work all of the time, but the point is that sometimes you know your first version is going to suck, so you might as well get it out of the way. For me, that means opening up Microsoft Word and writing...whatever. Sometimes it's stream of consciousness journaling, sometimes it's a blog post, sometimes it's fiction.
5. Exercise. I put this last because it's my least favorite of the list. This may not work for those committed to a desk from 8-5, but if you have the flexibility and freedom, get your body (and your brain moving. Even a brisk 15 minute walk can help clear your head. Outdoors and along the water preferred.
How do you get out of a rut?