3 questions to get unstuck and start making progress
Frustrated? Procrastinating? Stuck?
You've scrolled through all the timelines, checked your email 10 times, and now what? You don't feel like working...
This is a common state of mind nowadays. Fortunately, there are ways to escape feeling stuck, and one of them is a brief moment of reflection.
All you need is to ask yourself a question or two, and you'll find a way to tackle what's in front of you. What sort of question? Well, that's what this post is about.
We'll give you 3 simple questions that help you start addressing something, instead of avoiding it.
Whether you're avoiding a work-related task or a personal decision, this post will help you clarify what you need to actually do, right now.
1. What haven't I done yet? Why?
This simple question helps you clear your mind and capture unfinished business.
Most of us walk around with a lot of unresolved tasks on our mind. I need to buy new coffee beans. I should respond to Jack. I need to message Ben about Friday... All this mental clutter piles up.
Asking yourself "What haven't I done yet?" and writing down a list is a battle-tested way to capture that unfinished business so that you can deal with it more deliberately.
Once you it write down, you can choose to go into greater detail by asking why. Asking why you haven't done something is useful for thornier to-dos, things that have been on your mind for a while and just don't seem to be going away.
What haven't I done yet?
- Working on a presentation
- I don't know where to start
- It doesn't feel urgent
- I want it to be awesome, but I don't feel good about the slides I made
Once you write it down, you can figure out how to tackle those reasons.
Note: You might also find that you don't actually want to do something. That's fine (so long as it doesn't interfere with you job or business). It's fine to let some things drop. Maybe the marathon you wanted to run next month is not what you actually should do.
If you feel stuck, overwhelmed, or unfocused, ask yourself:
What haven't I done yet? Why?
2. What's stopping me from doing this?
This question is useful for tackling persistent to-dos and difficult decisions.
The key is to list obstacles and excuses, so that you can start eliminating them and get closer to "just doing it."
Let's take an example.
Goal: I want to exercise.
What's stopping me from doing this?
- I don't have a gym membership
- I don't have a routine / don't know what to do, specifically
- I don't feel motivated (on my own) ...
Once you write it down, you can usually figure out how to address those obstacles.
Maybe you don't need a gym membership because there's an outdoor gym nearby. Maybe you can find a simple 25 min workout routine online for free and stick to it. Maybe you can tell a friend who also wants to workout more and make plans with them.
If you find it difficult to make a change of some sort, ask yourself:
What's stopping me from doing this?
3. What is making me frustrated or discontent?
This question is a little different from the other 2 - it's more broad. A lot of us feel discontent. While discontent can be useful, if it's becoming chronic, it's not going to help our mental health.
And here's the thing: Sometimes the things that make us unhappy on a daily basis aren't huge issues, but little things that pile up.
Here are some examples of small things that can cause frustration on a daily basis:
- Cluttered room
- Pile of dirty clothes
- Broken bathroom lock
- Disorganized work files
- Full email inbox
Add all those up, and your day becomes a sequence of one small frustration following another, making your mood ever darker... Unless you make a list and address those issues head on.
The 5/30/60 minutes it takes to address recurring sources of frustration will help you feel better every day, and that's worth it.
When you're not feeling great, but you don't know why, ask yourself:
What is making me frustrated or discontent?
There you go - the 3 questions that will help you get unstuck and start making progress are:
- What haven't I done yet?
- What's stopping me from doing this?
- What is making me frustrated or discontent?
Use these questions if you feel stuck.