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Getting unstuck

While working on a project or an idea, it is common to get stuck along the way, when we simply can't seem to figure out what comes next. We don't know what options to try. We see what the end goal is, but we can't find a path connecting us to that place. 

In such situations, it is easy to get frustrated. And it is even easier to be distracted by something else - think social media, Youtube, Netflix, email, Slack, the news, etc. 

If you plot the amount of time you spend on getting unstuck on the x-axis and the probability of getting unstuck on the y-axis, you'll get an inverted U-curve. 

Until a certain point, the more time you spend thinking of ways to getting unstuck, the more likely you are to come up with a way that works. But after that point, the more time you spend, the less likely you are to figuring out how to get unstuck. 

The distractions of the kind I listed above make us abandon our efforts too quickly, when spending more time will actually result in higher probability that we'll get unstuck. When we can get a dopamine hit by accessing one of those, focusing on how to get unstuck becomes a difficult task. 

This is how professional writers overcome writer's block - they set a schedule and force themselves to make an attempt to write at that time whether they feel like it or not. And they set their schedules long enough to reach the tipping point beyond which more effort will be detrimental. That's when they take a break and go do something totally different. 

This is how teams make progress on projects. By having a daily standup or a weekly check-point to report progress. 

Getting unstuck, to a large extent, is about avoiding distraction. Figure out how you can best set yourself up for that.

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