Workplace tips: 6 ways to get past a ‘work block’
In the course of almost every job, there will be a task that’s either difficult or boring. You know the kind of thing. It’s the one that gets put off until tomorrow, the one that takes a back seat whenever anything else comes up, and the one that is always at the back of your mind or weighing ever more heavily on your shoulders as the days tick by…
It’s a classic case of procrastination and it’s a vicious circle. You build up the task in your mind as something you just don’t want to engage with, therefore, you put off getting started. You postpone it time and time again, and, all the while, it’s there niggling away in your head. The only way to get rid of it is to knuckle down and do it – but it’s sometimes hard to!
Are your reasons valid?
Ask yourself what is stopping you from doing it. Is your answer reasonable? If so, be proactive and enlist help from co-workers if you need it. Alternatively, if you’re having genuine difficulties carrying out the task or if what you’re being asked to do falls outside of your skillset, ask your manager for a meeting to discuss the way forward.
If that’s not the case though, then it’s time to set aside those excuses! Here are some steps you can try to help you through the process…
- Be practical. There are two main scenarios. First: the task is huge and daunting. Be practical and break it down into chunks and ask for help from others, if appropriate. Second: the task is not difficult but is a bore and a chore. Don’t break this down any more than you have to. By all means, take short breaks from it as you go, but dedicating yourself to it and going from start to finish is the best option – don’t prolong your agony by spreading it over a longer time than is necessary.
- Visualize the future… Focus on the benefits of completing the task and imagine how you’ll feel when it’s done and dusted!
- Dedicate time to focus. Block out time on your calendar for this specific task. It’s your chance to take control and get it done.
- Eliminate distractions. This is a really important one. Be disciplined with your internet, put your phone in a drawer, hide your email and messaging notifications, apply ‘Do not disturb’ settings, and whatever else you need to do to create a pocket of uninterrupted time where you can concentrate and work effectively.
- Make yourself accountable. If you’re really struggling, you need someone to make you accountable. Tell a co-worker about the task and get them to keep asking you about it till it’s done. Explaining to them why you haven’t finished is going to get more and more embarrassing the longer you put things off…
- Is it good enough? Ok, you’re nearly there! But is it good enough? Make sure it’s good quality but let go of your perfectionism and don’t hang on to it for longer than you need to, tweaking here and there and delaying its progress. Get it done, get it gone, and free yourself up to do more enjoyable tasks!
Learn and improve
Regardless of whether it’s a huge, important project or simply a personal achievement in the course of your work day, it’s a joyous moment when you’ve overcome that hurdle and completed the work. Take a note of what worked from the process you’ve just been through and bring it into play next time.