5 Simple Ways to Stop Feeling Stuck – Step 2: Make a Bored List

This is Part 2 in a five part series.

Read the introduction

Read Part 1

If I had to pick one emotion that lines up with feeling stuck it would be boredom. I’ve never been one to get bored easily. As a kid, I would spend hours on my own talking to myself and

Boredom – feeling weary because one is unoccupied or lacks interest in one’s current activity.

You’ll notice that this definition omits one of the things I considered essential for boredom as child: not having anything to do. What I’ve realized is that boredom isn’t about not having anything to do. As an adult, there’s always something to do. Boredom can stem from two things:

  1. Not doing anything

  2. Not liking what you’re doing

Both are problematic and stem from different underlying causes, but one thing I’ve been experimenting with lately is a simple solution that I think applies to both.

The Bored List

I call it the Bored List. What I realized is that when you’re an adult there’s no excuse to be bored. There’s always something that needs to get done. For a lot of people, it’s more difficult to rest—to stop hacking away at the never ending To Do list—than to start.

Feeling bored is not a normal experience for me, but lately I’ve found myself with more free time than usual (thanks horrible NYC winter!) and I’m not spending wisely. Feeling bored is a symptom of being stuck.

A teacher once told me that bored people are boring. I’m not sure if that’s true, but I do think that bored people are forgetful. When we’re bored, it’s not that there’s nothing we want or could be doing, it’s that we’re not remembering how we want to spend our time.

I’ll sometimes find myself with chunks of times where I have no commitments and I have no idea how to spend it. This is where the Bored List comes in. If I find myself reaching for the remote or falling down a YouTube rabbit hole (I recently discovered the early Lonely Island videos and I’m dead), instead of automatically giving these things my time I first review my Bored List. It’s basically a list of ongoing projects or things I want to work on when I have time. Some things currently on my Bored List: clean out craft shelf, download photos from phone, plan Europe trip.

I taped my Bored List to my laptop and put it in the Notes on my phone. Anytime I find myself reaching for these things when I’m bored, I instead review the list and remind myself of the things in my life that need my attention.

What helps you keep boredom at bay? Let me know in the comments!

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5 Simple Ways to Stop Feeling Stuck: Intro

If I had to choose one word to describe how I’ve been feeling over the past few months it would be stuck.

Maybe it’s the lack of sunlight, maybe it’s an excessive amount of chocolate (looking at you post Valentine’s Day sales), or maybe it’s just a life phase. Who cares. It doesn’t matter why, it just matters that feeling stuck is the worst.

Here are a few of the things that popped up when I asked the internet for a definition of stuck:

  • be or remain in a specified place or situation, typically one perceived as tedious or unpleasant.
  • be unable to progress with a task or find the answer or solution to something.
  • be unable to get rid of or escape from.

The thing with my particular flavor of stuck-ness is that nothing’s wrong. My job is great. I love my apartment. There’s no external reason for me to feel this way (besides Winter, but I have no control over the weather so I’m going to ignore that factor). It’s just me. I’m the problem.

Someone emailed me about this recently. They have young children and a busy life and want to devote more time to writing, but find that when they have time at night they are often so exhausted they just scroll through Facebook because it’s mindless.

I can so relate (not to the children part obviously but to the exhausted, lacking energy, defaulting to lazy habits part). I want to end my days feeling worn out by the things I’ve done and rich conversations I participated in—not bleary-eyed and sluggish from wasting hours staring at my phone.

Turns out, there’s actually a scientific basis for this exhaustion. Researchers have found that procrastinating leads to significant health issues and higher stress level. This specific study was on college students who procrastinated.

The stress of procrastinating in work or school or even on necessary life tasks (ex: that doctor’s appointment I’ve been putting off making for two years because I’m a lazy coward) is one thing. But what if we spend our entire lives procrastinating on our greatest aspirations? What if we delay living itself? That’s more than stressful. That’s soul sucking. It’s debilitating. That’s the kind of procrastination that leaves us with no energy at the end of the day.

I’ve written before about how to make yourself do something, but this week I want to explore what it means when we feel stuck and how we can get out of a Life Rut even when we feel trapped. I’ll be posting solutions that have helped me in the past and reporting on things other people have said helped them unstick their life.

Come back tomorrow for Part 1 where I’ll share my best tips and tricks for beating bad habits.

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