Monday, November 12, 2012

Three steps to get out of a slump

I have been working from home since May and while I travel a lot, I've been getting cabin fever. 

I love making my own schedule, traveling to community colleges, and working from my very own home office with my husband. But for the past month or so, I've felt like my apartment walls were closing in on me, and I could tell I was being less productive.

First, I blamed it on this large dark green wall in our place. I had it painted a lighter beige. Ahh.

Then I blamed messiness. Need to clean. Better. But I was still not feeling super energized in my space.

Then I blamed my husband. Because that's what you get to do when you're married ;) But then I realized working with him was awesome. That wasn't the problem. 

I was still feeling oddly sluggish. Why? 

I journaled about it last night and I realized something - I had blamed everything and everyone around me but me. I hadn't been taking responsibility for my own energy and productivity. I realized I needed to stop blaming everything else around me and take action. 

Below are the three steps I took to get me out of my space slump, and more importantly, three steps you can replicate to get out of any kind of slump you may find yourself in. 

Note: my definition of a slump = when you don't feel like you're living up to your full potential and realize there is more you could be doing to get where you want to go in your life. 

1. Reflect on the problem: I got out my journal and started thinking about why I was feeling this way - what was wrong with me? I didn't know at first but I just kept writing. Then, I had a flashback to my college days. In college, I always did my homework and wrote essays in the library. Home was for fun, relaxing, TV, reading, etc - essentially anything but work. I thrived when I did my work outside of where I had my fun. I had never made the connection before.

Journal about the problem you are having and think about who you are. Keep writing until you come up with the real cause of why you are in a slump. Don't let anyone else factor into your cause - think about you. It's vital that you take  responsibility for the cause so that you can find the solution. 

2. Brainstorm solutions: Once I realized what the problem really was, I knew I had to take responsibility. I couldn't just blame my apartment or my wonderful husband. I had been trying quick-fixes and hadn't really tackled the root of the problem. So I started listing any idea I could to think about how I could do more work outside of the apartment when I wasn't traveling.

Brainstorm a list of every possible solution to your slump. Don't judge your answers. When brainstorming, nothing is too outlandish. Just write. The only criteria is that every idea be something within your control, something you can act on. 

3. Take one small step: Next, I took a look at all of my ideas and picked the one I liked best. In my brainstorming, I remembered that when I purchased a business travel app a few months ago I had received a free year-long subscription to business lounges across the country. I decided to take one step right away to look into what this entailed. It turned out there was a business lounge in my area, and I scheduled a tour immediately. 

When you find the solution that seems like the best one, take one small step towards action - right away. Tell someone about your solution to keep you accountable. If the solution turns out not to be the best one, keep your brainstorming list and try another idea. 

Me @ work in my new space
I'm writing to you right now from a business lounge with a beautiful view. I got all dressed up to go to "work" today and it felt great. There are ladies in the reception area who are super sweet and made me feel energized. And I've already been more productive in the first few hours here than I would have been with my laptop on my couch. Slump = vanquished.

I hope this formula will help you crush your slump and continue to move towards your full potential.
P.S. Bonus tip for getting out of a slump? Dressing up for the day always feels good :)

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