5 Ways to Use a Plateau to Break Through Obstacles

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Other than being an elevated landform with a flat top, a plateau is commonly referred to as a slow-down in weight loss, even when your eating and exercise habits do not change. And it’s no fun when you hit one.

But plateaus are not limited to geography and dieting. A plateau can also refer to a decrease in the passion, excitement and energy that typically leads to professional success and accomplishment.

You’ll know you’re hitting a plateau if you don’t look forward to your work, feel stuck or unable to move forward, find yourself doing and redoing but still not getting it done, or anything else that makes you feel less productive and successful than you want to feel.

But plateaus aren’t all bad. In fact, they can offer the perfect opportunity for improvement. Here are five ways to use a plateau to push yourself through obstacles and accomplish more than you ever thought possible.

Work Harder

Much easier said than done, but ramping up the amount and quality of your work can help you get past a work-related plateau. Plus, sometimes the best way to break through is by forcing yourself to do the things you want to do the least.

Try focusing on all of the small or undesirable tasks that you tend to put off. If you’re able to clear a chunk of these tasks from your list, you will likely feel invigorated and refreshed. And be able to focus on more of the work you truly enjoy.

Work Smarter

Sometimes, working harder isn’t the solution, but working smarter is. Try breaking your work into high-priority segments so you focus on one important individual area for 30 minutes at a time. Intense chunks, followed by a short break, can keep you motivated to move because even the largest projects won’t see so overwhelming.

You may want to work these focused segments into your schedule so it’s easier to eliminate some of the common distractions and you can really work smarter, faster and more productively.

Analyze Your Productivity

Speaking of productivity, how much are things like email, social media and consistent interruptions impacting your day? If you stop to think about it, you may be surprised how prominent a role these distractions play in your inability to move forward. Test it by cutting out one of the biggest culprits for a day, or even a couple of hours, to see if you’re able to get more accomplished and generally just feel better about your work.

If the test shows that the distraction is adding to your inability to get past the plateau, work on a plan to eliminate or reduce it. A simple change, such as checking email and social media sites just a few times a day, can be just what you need to get past a plateau.

Spice It Up

If you thrive on a challenge and feel like your daily battles are waning, your plateau may be caused by boredom. Change it up by working different hours than you typically do, taking on work outside of the norm, starting a personal project in the side, or even just getting a change of scenery.

Call In Reinforcements

We all need a little help from time to time. If your plateau is caused by simply too much on your plate, get rid of something. Start saying no, outsource, or partner up with a colleague to make your workload more manageable.

You may also want to consider working with a coach or mentor who can help you regain focus and identify what is keeping that plateau in your way.

Have you hit a plateau recently? What have you done to push through?

Image credit: edudflog

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  • WebMachine

    Nice tips in the article. I know its not always possible, but when I hit a plateau, especially when I am learning a new technology, I find it helps me to move to something different for a day or two … a different project, or learning something new in the field, then I can go back to what I had been working on and become productive once again. I can’t always just work harder and push through the doldrums because I tend to not accomplish anything and start to dislike what I am doing.