One of my favorite Cure songs is called “Doing the Unstuck.” While the Cure is not typically known for upbeat lyrics, this song is just that — and inspires me whenever I feel like I’m in a professional or personal rut:

“It’s a perfect day for doing the unstuck
For dancing like you can’t hear the beat
And you don’t give a further thought
To things like feet”

“It’s a perfect day for dreams come true
For thinking big
And doing anything you want to do.”

But even with Robert Smith’s encouragement, doing the unstuck is a lot easier said than done. So this week, I’m dedicating my blog posts to tips that help me get unstuck.

Here’s the first one:

Limit the amount of energy you spend on urgent, yet unimportant things.

A friend of mine once told me she’s in a war with her email inbox and that she exhausts herself trying to win it. Can I get an amen?

We will never win the email war. But why do we still try?  My theory is that trying to win the email war gives us instant gratification. We’re doing “work” right? We’re being “responsible” right? No. We are answering email.

The real creative work — the work that will get us unstuck — happens outside of email. It usually happens outside of meetings. And it normally doesn’t give us instant gratification. Alas, there’s no satisfying sound effect ping involved. (And man, I have to admit that I sure do love that email ping that announces loud and clear  “somebody needs you now, Alia!”)

Last year, because of some health issues, I was forced to stop trying to win the email war. As part of my health regimen, I carved out several hours of un-interrupted time a week when my only goal was to write, strategize, think and be. Focusing on un-urgent, yet important things transformed the way I work. It’s challenging, yes. But much more gratifying.

I still answer my email. But I prioritize other activities above and beyond it. And it’s been a key to getting me unstuck.

What do you do to get unstuck?