A woman puts her head in her hands, apparently stuck.

What’s giving you that mental block?

1024 768 David DeWolf

I do my best writing on a plane. There’s something about a dedicated block of time, no interruptions and nothing else to do that puts me “in the zone.” On one infamous trip across the Atlantic Ocean, I was able to write 12 blog posts in a six hour flight. I’ve written eBooks, presentations, proposals and many other things in that space.

As I took off for San Francisco this morning, a five-hour flight ahead of me, I looked forward to filling up my queue of upcoming posts. It has been awhile since I had dedicated time, and so I was ready to take advantage.

After two posts, my productivity dropped to nil.

I was out of topics. I had no idea what to write about and couldn’t seem to come up with anything.

After spending the next hour in fits and starts, trying desperately to come up with something relevant, I couldn’t help but ask myself what was going on.

Here’s what led to my mental block:

I have not been in the habit of diverse thinking.

Lately, my writing has been coming one post at a time. In the past, I have had more opportunity to spend dedicated time churning through a series of ideas. I had a process to capture ideas and a process to flesh them out.

Habit is powerful. Being out of the habit eroded my process and made it more difficult to start back up.

I had a few other things on my mind.

Focus is what you say no to, not what you say yes to. While trying to come up with a new topic, I realized that I had a few other things that were nagging at me. Pending deadlines and other thoughts that I haven’t had an opportunity to really ponder yet were bogging me down.

Our most creative thoughts come when we have a free mind. Having pending items deteriorated my ability to come up with new ideas.

I had a short night of sleep and a long day.

Yesterday consisted of a series of meetings from 8 AM through 4:30 PM. Worse, one of them was nearly six hours long and full of dedicated thinking where I had to be “on my game.” This not only put me a bit behind, it wore me out.

Our minds are the freshest and do the most powerful work when we’re fresh. My long day and short night’s sleep was preventing me from putting my entire mental capacity to work.

When you have a mental block, do you know why?

Do you take the time to figure it out and fix those things in your life that are preventing you from being “on your game”? If not, give it a try. Simply getting rest, clearing your mind, or building routine might help. Even better, you might discover your own mental block.