I’ve been feeling stuck. For weeks and weeks. And not sure why.
Have you ever felt that way? Are you having trouble getting unstuck too?
What I’m stuck on is finishing my next book: Go With the Flow! The Clutter-Clearing Tool Kit for an Organized Life (aka The Clutter Flow Chart Workbook).
I mean, it’s been less than a year (my previous book took two years), and I’m very close to finishing, but meanwhile, I’m stuck.
I can’t even call it writer’s block, exactly, because the book is all written! It’s even been edited by a talented colleague. But I haven’t incorporated her suggestions on my end yet. Why not? Dunno. It does involve a lot of decision-making, but the edits are all things that I can either adopt directly, or I mostly know how I want to handle them, and they are all things that will definitely improve the book. It seems do-able. So, yay, right? But there are other things to do too. So many things.
What would I recommend to a client?
OK, I’m a professional organizer. That includes time and thoughts. I HELP PEOPLE GET UNSTUCK!
So, what is my advice to myself?
(NOTE: This is practical advice for reinvigorating a project. It’s not a solution for major life issues requiring therapy, or medication, or a life/business coach. Also consider your general health and the well-being of your household. Are you eating well, sleeping enough, and exercising? How about drinking enough water? I know I need that for my brain to work! Do you need help Getting Back on Track?)
1. Ask myself WHY.
Why am I doing this project? Do I still want to do it? Why now?
- YES I DO still want to do it! I am compiling ALL 17 of my flow charts and their companion articles, most of which have never appeared in blog post form, into one handy resource to help people declutter. Because I am no longer in the business of helping them individually. I want to leave an organizing legacy, if you will.
- I want to do it NOW so I can move on to other things (like more genealogy research and more family stories) and stop feeling guilty about not having finished this yet.
2. Break the project down into smaller tasks.
Project: Finish Book
Smaller, less intimidating, tasks (include a verb in each one):
- Incorporate edits into final draft.
- Finish editing flow charts for consistency (content, color, etc.)
- Format flow charts for book purposes (convert PDFs to 300 DPI JPGs).
- Decide whether to include endorsements. (Use old ones? Ask for new ones?)
- Decide whether to include a page for professional organizers about what they can, and can’t, do with the book, considering I will no longer be custom-branding individual charts for them.
- Finish cover design.
- Self-publish on KDP. (Easier said than done! There are many small steps, too long to list in this blog post. But I did it last time. I can do it again.)
3. Schedule time to work on it
Don’t wait until I “feel like it”.
- There’s no real reason why I couldn’t spend a couple of hours a day on this. Late morning is my most productive time.
- Reserve the time on my calendar, so others don’t schedule on top of it.
4. Ask for help if I need it
- Reach out to my Authorship & Publishing group with specific questions.
- Re-read old Clutter Flow Chart endorsements for inspiration.
- Re-read motivational blog posts:
- Are You Stuck in a Rut? by Seana Turner
- Motivation to Get Unstuck by Linda Samuels
- Are You a Perfectionistic Writer? by Hazel Thornton (There’s nothing like searching the Nonfiction Authors Association blog for “motivation” and finding your own blog post!)
- Paper Doll’s NaNoWriMoMoMo (Novel Writing Month Monday Motivation)…Even for Non-Writers by Julie Bestry
- The Procrastitivity Zone by Hazel Thornton (The clock is ticking if I want to get this book out before Thanksgiving, which I do. It’s time for less procrastination and more productivity!)
- I could spend all day searching for motivation online. But I’m stepping away from the internet! If you are a colleague who has written a post that fits, or if you have one to suggest, please feel free to mention it in the comments!
5. Monitor progress
- It is tricky for a writer to know how much time, or how many words, will be required before it feels finished. If I knew how long everything would take I would pick a due date and work backwards from there. But I don’t.
- So, I’ll fall back on my “Progress Equals Happiness” motto. The issue being that I have NOT been making progress on this project, so I’ve been UN-happy about it.
- Do SOMEthing on the book every day. Even the littlest thing will help.
6. Celebrate milestones
It’s important to celebrate along the way, not just when I hit the “publish” button.
- Try alternating writing time with TV time to ensure daily writing (because TV is an enjoyable reward and also an existing habit).
- A new hot tub would be a good reward for hitting the “publish” button, but the research can also be a massive rabbit hole. It can wait. Step away from the internet!
Do you think this will work for me?
Are you having trouble getting unstuck too?
What is your project? What helps you get unstuck?
Does this post give you any ideas or reminders that you think will help you?
Please share with us in the comments below!
Copyright 2022 by Hazel Thornton, Organized for Life and Beyond
Author of What’s a Photo Without the Story? How to Create Your Family Legacy
Please contact me for reprint permission. (Direct links to this page are welcome!)
ALL of the things you suggested will help you get unstuck. Recently when I was stuck…really stuck…think Crazy Glue stuck, during my process of thinking and not doing, I ended up with an accountability partner. She was unofficial in the sense I didn’t go looking for one and I didn’t call her that.
But I realized after our first “brainstorming to get unstuck” call, that she was THE thing that got me going. From that call, I had doable, reasonable actions, felt reinvigorated about the project, and had someone to ‘report’ back to who was also doing things to help my project along.
She’s been amazing and absolutely got me over the finish line. Guess who is was? My youngest daughter, Cassie!
What a nice surprise accountability partner! Thanks for sharing, Linda.
I really like how you broke the process down into steps and showed your own personal examples! I’ve been kind of stuck on a project that I really want to do but just keep finding other busy work. Tomorrow, I will start my day with your blog and break it down. Thank You!
Thanks, Lisa! I would love to know how it works out for you!
I love the way you outlined the steps, and will definitely refer to this next time I get stuck.
Thanks, Janet! I have to say, it’s working for me!
Hazel, what a GIFT this post is (as is all your writing)! Your honest and straightforward style is both humorous and impactful. These are all such great steps to get unstuck! Thank you for sharing this to help others get unstuck too. You’ve got this!!
Awww, thanks, Sue! What a nice compliment! And a welcome word of encouragement.