When you have required work to do, a mental block can feel like the most painful thing in the world. On an easier day, you might take the rest of the day off or take a long break. But when deadlines loom – a client meeting, legal obligations, or other items on a business owner’s checklist – you have to overcome a mental block quickly so you can get back to work.

Most people are tempted to try social media – scrolling Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn to get some fresh ideas in your head. But you’ll end up taking much more time than you want to: the average person engages with media for 11 hours per day. You don’t need that extra scrolling session (and it won’t help your mental state, anyway).

What does mental block mean?

Having a mental block is fairly simple. Most of the time, it means your brain is overloaded.

There are a lot of psychological meanings as well. It can be as simple as forgetting something all the way up to issues around depression and anxiety. For the purposes of this article, we’re talking about needing to get work done but feeling like there’s something stopping you; like your brain just doesn’t want you to work, but you have to.

It can feel like a case of needing to be better at time management, but there are likely other things at play, too. Either way, you need to get through it quickly so you can get back to work.

Once you understand the root of the problem, you can get out of a mental block quickly – often in 10 minutes or less.

Journal through your mental block

Person writing in a journal | PulseBlueprint
Writing out your circumstances and frustrations is a great way to overcome a mental block

If your brain is overloaded, one of the best ways to solve the problem is to get the thoughts out of your head. How? Writing them down.

If you’re hitting a roadblock or mental hurdle, there’s probably a reason. You’re likely either:

  • Dealing with too much in your head, or;
  • You’re too focused on the details and missing the big picture (happens to a lot of people, so you’re not alone if this is you)

Journal prompts

Get a piece of paper and a pen – this is a no-tech task – and answer the following prompts:

1- I’m in a mental block about my work and it feels like…”

2- “I am trying to accomplish…”

3- “I want to accomplish that end goal because…”  

4- “The work I am supposed to be doing is on…”

5- “The work I am supposed to be doing helps the end goal because it…”

For each prompt, just write what comes naturally. If you need to swear, go ahead. If what you really want to write is that you had a crappy sleep and some days you want to quit… write it down. It’s not meant to be therapy – though it can feel therapeutic – it’s just meant to get the brain waves flowing again.

Impact of journaling on mental blocks

If you’re able to free-write on each of the prompts above, one of two things will likely happen:

1- You’ll clear your mind of the “gunk” that caused the mental block. These are usually just thoughts that come into our minds and find a way to nestle in some corner of the brain. Writing everything out helps to get them unstuck so you can focus.

2- You’ll have a moment of realization and get insight into your problem. Some cases of mental block are caused by a lack of data (perceived or real), and journaling may give you the clarity to realize what you didn’t have. Often, the fear of losing because of “what you didn’t know you didn’t know” can be paralyzing, so getting clarity on that will help you move ahead.