This is a series of blog posts about PUSHing through obstacles at work. Every workplace is full of obstacles. If you want to be effective (and you want your boss to THINK you’re effective), you’ve got to learn how to get PUSH through obstacles. Here’s Part 1 of the series.
Internal Conflict: Man vs. Self
Last week I wrote about PUSHing through “people” obstacles — those problems that come up when you depend on other folks at work and you can’t just wait around and hope they get around to your project. This week I’ll write about PUSHing through internal obstacles – the ones in your head. Often, I am the biggest obstacle to completing a difficult task. Here’s how I usually get through my biggest challenges. These tips aren’t rocket surgery, but deliberately putting them into practice can really help you PUSH through your own obstacles. In literature, we call this an internal conflict of man vs. self.
1.) Break it up
David Allen’s method for “Getting Things Done” is invaluable for breaking through mental obstacles. Just write down the next step you have to do for each project. Sure, you can write down twelve tasks, but you can’t do all of those today. What can you do next? If the next step is a project in itself, then break it into steps too. What is the next step you can take? It can be as simple as a phone call, an email, or a meeting. Take the next step for each project, then the next, then the next.
2.) Conquer your hardest problems early
Your mind is probably sharpest in the morning. Don’t waste your precious morning time doing c-level tasks like returning phone calls or answering email. Hit the hardest thing that day first thing in the morning, before you even open your email! Then everything else will be downhill from there.
3.) Get some help
If you have trouble getting out of bed in the morning; if you can’t focus; if you don’t feel joy and accomplishment at work, you may hate your job, or you may have a deeper problem. Motivation problems are often related to depression especially those that are work related. Depression is nothing to be ashamed of, but it does suck. Find a counselor or talk to your doctor about these symptoms. You are not alone, and you can’t fix the problem by pretending it’s not there.
4.) Take care of yourself
Get out of the office. If you’re there for 10 hours straight, how effective can you really be at hour 9? Go for a walk, schedule lunch with a friend, or work out. Get your mind away from the office for a bit and you’ll find new energy to refocus on your work when you return.
5.) Take responsibility
In the short run, it’s easiest to blame your problems on others, on the project deadlines, on the planners, or some external factor. But blaming never works in the long term, and it will make you enemies. If you’re behind and it’s because of obstacles in your head, own up to the problem and tell your boss how you’re fixing the problem.
Pushing Yourself: You Are Your Biggest Obstacle
If you find you are your biggest obstacle, how have you Pushed through to succeed, despite yourself? I’m eager to read your responses in the comments.