10 Ways to Get Out of a Rut

out-of-the-rutDo you ever find yourself feeling stuck in a rut sometimes? I know I do.

Even though I may have gazillion ideas and projects going at any given time, there are days when I feel like I'm just stuck. Like I go in circles in spite the inspiration. I end up going nowhere, in spite the drive and the passion.

When such things happen, these are some* things that I try to do to get out of that rut --- pronto!

1. Do something completely different. If I'm obsessing about writing, I paint or draw or doodle. If I'm anxious about crafting, I journal or play music or cook. If I'm stressed about Uni stuff, I read or bake or dance. It doesn't matter what I do, as long as it's different from what I'm way too pre-occupied with.

2. Start something new. It doesn't matter if I'm going to finish or not. I just want to start something for the sake of it. Sometimes, just being able to recapture that feeling of newness, the excitement of beginnings... may be enough to spur me on.

3. Join a class or a workshop. Sometimes, getting input from other people... or getting some kind of feedback... helps me to absorb new concepts. Or, try out old ones in a different way. Sometimes, it doesn't even matter what I try to learn... I've attended all sorts of art classes (watercolours, oils, drawing, figure drawing, etc), writing classes (children's writing, romance writing, etc), and dance classes (flamenco, pole dancing, jazz, African, etc). I've even attended a DJ (radio personality) course, a Neuro Linguistic Programming course, Pilates classes, and now, Zumba.

4. Be more physical. I'm no fitness freak, as some of you might already know. But, I do feel that rush whenever I do something more physical - like when I go walking or dancing, or if I do some exercise... even doing chores or gardening might even work for me at times.

5. Create a list. Yes, I'm a listoholic. And, there are all sorts of lists to break out of ruts. There are Gratitude lists, Things To Do lists, Dreams lists, Inspiration lists, and even Prayer lists (if you're so inclined). Creating such lists sometimes gives me enough reason to move, or to hope, or to feel more excited.

6. Practice Mindfulness (and/or Prayer). This mindfulness thing is really just a "new thing" for me (sort of...). And, even though I'm not a real heavy "mindfulness" practitioner, I do find it a very useful thing to practice as much possible. It has healed me in all sorts of ways - from physical and emotional ailments to all sorts of work and personal pains. I'm really and truly amazed.

7. Journal It Out! I'm not the sort of person who sorts out issues by calling a best mate. No matter how close I am with my friends, no matter how much I care about them, I'm never the kind who go crying to them whenever I have something I need to sort out. Instead, I turn to writing. Journal writing in particular. That's why I have all sorts of journals all over the place - my paper journals, my art journal, my desktop electronic journal, my private web journal, my blogs... I access them whenever the need arises. In fact, I notice that the more issues I'm trying to work out, the more I tend to write in my journals (especially the non-public ones). I mean, for example, when I hit a massive snag when writing my novel, I tend to journal the problems, and before I know it, I've got something to work with. I just love it whenever I have those Eureka! moments whilst journal writing myself out of a rut.

8. Allow myself to be inspired by others. Be it through reading books, watching films (or TV shows), looking at art, visiting blogs, flipping through magazines, listening to music... or simply letting people tell their stories to me. I like finding inspiration in what others have done... or are doing. It's amazing to see creative products and creative people at work.

9. Do something crazy or scary. If it's something I've been thinking of doing but never dared before due to fear of failing or some other anxiety... Sometimes, I just go for it when I'm in a rut. Or if I want to avoid getting there in the first place. It doesn't have to be anything big like skydiving or mountain climbing. It can be just simple things... like recording your singing or speaking voice... or saying hello to someone new.

10. Decide to keep things simple. One of the things that gets me stuck at times is this feeling of wanting to do something nice, great, amazing... I want to write blog posts that will blow your socks off. I want to take photos that will inspire. I want to write novels that will amaze. I want to make art that will make your jaw drop. That's why in the past, I end up with no new blog posts for days (and even weeks) on end. Or that I don't pick the camera, or write novels, or make art... When I over-think (which I do A LOT!), I under-do. So, when I'm feeling stuck in a rut, I try to make a conscious decision to find ways to simplify it... Like, don't worry about singing Whitney Houston songs in public, just think about singing lullabies and children's songs to my kids (at home and in school)... Don't think about playing lead guitar of amazing songs just yet, just enjoy playing a couple of chords in the back-up tracks of pre-recorded band music... Don't create a 2-hour feature film at first go, just consider making a 5-minute educational film for class first... Yes, just simplify, simplify, simplify...

How about you? What are YOUR tips and practices for getting out of a rut?


  • * some - I have other things that I do, but I thought I'd share the first 10 that came to mind...
  • Image - Yes, it's a doodle I made using my old Wacom tablet. I've been in art-making/doodling/illustrating rut for a while now, so I thought I'd take on the challenge and play with my Wacom again since I haven't used it in a while. Just to practice what I preach, so to speak. 😉

About the Author Shai Coggins

Shai has been managing and blogging here at ShaiCoggins.com for 17 years. Here, she writes about creativity, productivity, and how to recharge for a better, happier lifestyle. She is the author of Today: Life Journal, Colour Bliss: Kaleidoscopes, and a little known children's book. A serial entrepreneur, Shai also currently runs Vervely.com, a boutique digital media agency offering online content, community, and conversion marketing services. Her blogging experience and digital work have been featured in various media, including being listed in Fast Company's "Most Influential Women in Technology" list. Originally from Manila, Shai lived in Singapore and the USA before moving to Australia with her British husband. They have two children, a pet bunny, and a rambunctious rescue Labrador.

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