By Eric Quach
I am sure the majority of us, whether writers or not, are familiar with the ever impeding plight known as writer’s block. We have all been called upon to write something in our lives, whether it be a strenuous term paper or just a succinct cover letter. A lot of these situations result in an unconquered first page of Microsoft Word, an adjacent flatscreen tuned to sportscenter, and countless wasted hours. The reason this occurs is not because we are incapable, but because of present obstructions and a lack of will or means to clear them.
NOBODY LIKES TRAFFIC
Although the term writer’s block is commonly known, this “block” in productivity is more universal and does not uniquely pertain to writers. How many programmers out there have found themselves staring at the screen without a clue to what the next line of Java or Python code should be? Or maybe you’re in sales and your current approach has yielded you an empty appointment book. Whether you’re in sales, writing, design, engineering, music, development, or etc., we are all subject to this decreased ability in producing new work or progressing current projects at some point in time.
TAKE IT TO THE HOOP
Many factors, most of which are psychological, can trigger this predicament. Fear, a lack of inspiration, nerves, self-doubt, personal conflicts, general unhappiness, and just plain fatigue are all conscious and subconscious builders of the barriers in your work path. Today I will share with you a few simple methods to raze the endeavor barricades you may face.
1. GET SOME REST
For most writers, designers, musicians, and other creatives, this is a “no brainer.” Close the laptop, put down the guitar, turn off your brain, and wake up refreshed and re-inspired. In many other industries, it is quite common to dismiss this necessity. We live in a world where money doesn’t sleep and caffeine is plentiful so consequently we tend to believe time spent not working is a financial loss. But can we really work when we ourselves aren’t working? In recent years, studies have shown that fatigued employees cost businesses up to $150 billion per year in lost productivity. Our bodies and minds need sufficient rest in order to function at an optimal level. Shut-eye, snoozing, passing out — whatever you want to call it – when your work begins to plateau and you cannot seem to continue or come up with new ideas, sleep can be the snake needed to unclog the drains of your mind and let the juices flow, even if it’s just a power nap. A NASA study has shown that just 26 minutes of rest can improve your performance up to 34%. Many progressive companies already embrace the idea that a rested worker is the best worker. Our next-door Mountain View neighbors, Google, even have sleeping pods in the office. So when you hit that roadblock, don’t grab a refill of espresso. Instead, find a comfortable place and get some rest, so long as the culture of your workplace permits. A little shut-eye can relieve the conscious and subconscious factors that ail your productivity. If your situation does not permit a quick office nap, make sure you get a full night’s rest.
2. STOP AND DO SOMETHING YOU ENJOY
Many of the psychological factors that bar your productivity can be relieved simply by taking your mind off them. Take a break from negativity and distract yourself with a recreational activity you enjoy. Play some pool, listen to music that gets you pumped, read a magazine, watch something that makes you laugh, whatever it is that brings a smile to your face, do it. Here at Axcient, I can always boost my blues by dominating my fellow colleagues in a couple sets of ping-pong. I personally know that when facing nerves, pressuring deadlines, or relationship/ family issues, doing something I enjoy can put me right back on track with my goals.
3. SWEAT IT OUT!
I am by no means a health expert but sitting for eight or more hours at a desk, staring into a framed matrix of pixels illuminated by backlighting, cannot be good for your mental or physical health. And guess what, it doesn’t help your productivity either. As we discussed earlier, short periods of rest can improve your productivity vastly in the workplace and so can activity. Jim Mckenna, from the University of Bristol, conducted a study where, following mid-day exercise, participants’ mental polish and time management skills were sharpened. The employees had a greater sense of self acceptance and experienced an improved ambiance of camaraderie. This hard-earned positivity yields an increased level of confidence, decreased stress levels, and a comfortable environment to aid in tearing down those creative walls. Many employers offer onsite exercise facilities so if you don’t have time to get a run in before, sweat it out after lunch, return re-inspired and take it to the hoop.