3 ways to get yourself out of a working rut

I think I finally understand what successful founders mean when they talk about the high of building a company. Of making something real. Of building something new.

It’s been a good few weeks so far in that regard. I started a blog. I wrote 5 blog posts in a day (more on how I managed that – while having a full-time job and volunteering that night – in another post). I generated multiple ideas for my business and even started to think more about which Canadian companies will be playing a part in it all.

Through all this, I came to really value the power of social media – Twitter in particular. I put out an ask, and my twitter exploded. I loved it.

Realizing the power and kindness of the tech community across Canada to help out a random from the internet was so cool.

It was the best high of my life (disclosure: I’ve never done any recreational drugs. So I could be a total dweeb right now and not even know it. Indulge me).

But the low inevitably came afterwards.

Creativity isn’t flowing as it used to. I got into a useless Facebook-comment argument (ugh). And in general I’m feeling like the days have been droning on and I just want the weekend and/or that creative high back. Preferably both.

I felt this high-to-low multiple times when I founded my first company, and it’s not a fun feeling. Before, I didn’t know how to deal with it. I would sit, depressed and unable to work, for sometimes days at a time.

Even as I write this, I feel listless, but here’s how I got my groove back and was able to write again the day after, not stuck in a rut for multiple days or even a week.

Accept that it was coming

I know from years of personal experience that I have a low right after a high. Oddly enough, I used to be in denial about this – I always thought this time would be different.

This time, it really was. I accepted that a low was coming. I embraced that the next day(s) were going to be crappy and my brain was going to hurt.

The internal conversation I have with myself is to say “I know this will be bad, and that’s ok. But I will be ok in time as well and this won’t stop me.”

Keep a record of ideas that pop into your head

On low and high days, you sometimes get a ray of light and a cool idea comes to mind. I wrote it down.

Not every idea will get developed (and some sound really bad when you look back at them the next day), but the process of having a pen/paper or a notepad app on my phone handy meant that when I did have ideas, they were documented.

Keep writing anyways

I found myself in a rut of actually coming up with great ideas, but not writing anything. Eventually, the structure I had in my mind would fade and I would never get the piece written – it would just be another cool item on a bullet list that I didn’t accomplish.

For me, the best way out of a rut is to accomplish something. Let me tell you, starting to write this post was painfully slow – I had no ideas and I rambled a lot. I just kept my fingers moving on the keyboard, and words happened.

Eventually, my logical brain kicked in, mad at the poor grammar and lack of structure, and here I am. Not quite back, but certainly productive and no longer feeling like I’m stuck in a rut. Here’s to checking items off your to-do list.

What have you done to break yourself out of a working rut?

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