• Leave a task unfinished
When Ernest Hemingway was in the flow of writing, he would stop mid-sentence at the point where he knew what he wanted to say next and leave his desk, rather than complete the sentence with a full stop. It meant that when he returned, he had a place to start. One of the biggest blocks to a new venture is knowing where to start. You freeze up, you can’t get into it. But leave a task unfinished at the end of a session, knowing what you need to complete, and you have a very precise place to start for the next one. It’s great for people who find it difficult to get momentum at the beginning.
• Work in a different environment
If you’re not getting very far, move away from the space you normally work in. When I’m writing at my desk I get distracted by other tasks, and feel anxious; I feel like my editor is on my back saying ‘you need to get this done now’. So I’ve taken to working in bed, on a train, in a museum, in a local park. I have a completely different writing experience. Getting into a different, non-working environment helps us access our creativity more easily. And, it reduces anxiety, because we’re taken out of an environment that we feel pressured in. This makes us more effective. If you’re finding it difficult to write the first draft of a novel in your front room, go sit in a coffee shop for an hour or two. If you can’t revise for the evening course you’ve taken up, take a chair into the garden and work.
• Plan with colour
Look at a boring to-do list and it can feel more like a chore than something to get excited about. That’s why I use a lot of colour when writing task lists and scheduling in appointments in my diary. Sometimes all fractions of your life can merge into one, but if you use colour it’s an easy way to split it up. Colours then begin to be associated with different things. I use green to denote an activity I’m doing for me, blue for when I’m having developmental time, red for a meeting, for example. I always get excited when I see green in my diary. (Obviously, don’t spend too long decorating your to-do list, and not enough on the project yourself.)
• Look for ideas in unconventional places
If you’re starting a new business, the likelihood is that you’ll read a shelf-load of books about business. But when we look in the most obvious places for ideas, we can be led to believe all the best ideas have already been taken, and we can easily get de-motivated. We also get stuck, focusing too hard on the things that have been done already. Try looking in unusual places instead. 2012 is the year I’m going to blog more. I’d been looking at coaching books and websites to help formulate my ideas, but not getting too far. Then, at a friend’s house, I casually picked up an interiors magazine and the ideas started coming. Many of the headlines were not only great for interiors features, but would also make great headings for my blog posts.
Jackee Holder is a coach, coach trainer and author