Getting over a rut    

Getting over a rut

“When we are stuck in a rut we are being invited to grow and expand.”

Dana Arcuri

According to Oxford Dictionary, Rut or slump is a habit or pattern of behaviour that has become dull and unproductive but is hard to change. We have certainly felt this way ourselves in life at least one time or the other. In our life there are periods where we don't feel productive at all or we are in a rut. As painful as it is to get out of a rut, it is more painful to stay inside a rut where we are paralyzed by our doubts and see no way out of the tunnel. We want to get out of it yet again succumbed back to where we started or even worse. Our will power getting weaker, our dreams hazier and our life duller seeming like there is no meaning to it. But having feelings like that are fairly common. And being a student it is incredibly easy to go through a period of rut and harder to get out of it.  I will be lying if I don’t get to the period of rut myself so I fully understand the pain of staying in a rut and desperate attempt to get out of it yet being stuck. So, in this article I will share tips that personally help me get out of a rut.

1.   Starting early

Getting over a rut

“Do what you can, where you are, with what you have.”

-Teddy Roosevelt

When we are in a rut, mornings are especially hard. You wake up feeling lost and directionless of where you are going. You know what you need to do yet cannot make yourself do it. You find solace on scrolling through the phone then ultimately falling into more guilt of wasting time and not ending up anywhere. One tip that helps me is to get going is to place a task closely as when I wake up. I don’t plan the task earlier than my usual wake up time but right nearby it. That way, I won’t go through the pain of sleeping in more and waking up earlier. It will be fantastic to wake up earlier but it is harder during those days than normal days personally. I try to wake up earlier and I wake up too if not  I just start from where I do. And this way I can wake up and get started when I know I have something to go through. 

I understand planning can be a hassle but what we can do is place simple tasks near waking so that we would also give out the temptation of scrolling through the phone realizing we have something to do. Suppose you wake up at 7 AM. If you have exams, then what you can do is keep practise test schedule at 7:30 AM or a small topic that you have to read for exams. That way, you realize you have something to attend to and you can go and start it and gain momentum. It can be even exercise or anything as to what exactly you are feeling unproductive about. But then, it is easier to plan and harder to execute. I fully understand the pain of waking up in the morning. What I personally do when I feel so is waking up with the aid of music. I love music and what I do is say a song is 3 minute. Then, I slowly get up and give myself 3 minute to make my bed by the time music ends. It doesn’t take so much time to make bed so I can wake up slowly and finish making bed slowly too. From there on, it gets easier. I wake up and go do my usual morning routine listening to music and start what I scheduled for as per the time.  Having something to look forward, gets us started when we are down with thoughts. As morning shows the day, utilizing the earlier time sets the mood. Once, we are out of bed, it is easier to go around with our day with those feelings slowly dissipating.

 It doesn’t mean we cannot start later from that. For we can make the most out of what we have when we tailor our routine according to ourselves. Starting early also means starting from where we are right now. Yes from where we are we can start. And to get quickly out of rut, starting early is the best solution.

Starting early is also useful for other tasks. Suppose you have to study for tests, you can start earlier little by little so that you won’t get demotivated by enormous piles of tasks that lie in front of us.  

But then the problem is how can we get ourselves to start. I can relate to this feeling that starting is very hard indeed. What I personally do as  I have discussed in my previous article How to stay consistent, that I designate 15 minute for a given task. Someday I will do that much but most often it will increase from there. So, you can start with an easy task with little time to get started. Moving on to tip 2,


2.   Readjusting schedule


Getting over a rut

Getting into a rut can mean our previous planning didn’t work and it also means what effort we are doing right now is not working. So, it is time to readjust  your schedule. Not only by adding but by subtracting tasks from our schedule as well. We have to think realistically how much time we will need. What our tendency is that we pile up so many things at one time. We go strict with ourselves. We do good for a day or two then fall back into the same pattern. Here,  the problem is our schedule. So what we can do is free up our schedule, prioritize things based on urgency, keep out with distraction and give in to what you have to do.. You can use an app to track time of what is distracting you. When you free your time from distraction, you can effectively use that to do the task that we want to. And here I want to again remind you as always Progress is better than perfection


3.   Trying new things

Getting over a rut

“Constantly focusing on the limitations, instead of all the possibilities, is how people become stuck in their lives. It only serves to recreate the same old reality from day to day. And soon the days turn into years, and lifetimes.”

Anthon St. Maarten


Staying in a rut is a very hard thing. Everything feels monotonous and we are bored by the monotonicity of it. So, it can serve as a beautiful reminder for us to try new things. If what we are doing is not working, then it is time to adjust our way of  doing and sometimes it also means adjusting the way we are looking at the problem. While being on a rut, we are often fixated on things that went wrong, things that will go wrong. We did wrong so we cannot do right, now. But what it does is it takes away what we can do right now. It occurred to me one typical morning that I can instead create new memories and new stories this time to tell myself instead of the same old things. Think of yourself as creating new memories everyday. How exciting it will be to wake and embrace it when we allow ourselves to heal from whatever that has caused us to fall into a rut to get up to things that we can do now. It is difficult to see hope in  the future and in us but it cannot hide the fact that there is still endless possibility in the future and in us. No matter how much I write about productivity, I am not always productive, there are days when I find waking up hard too. So little reminders like this can get us going to what it is yet to experience in life. You aren’t a failure. You are someone who tries. And trying new things also means finding a way to solve problems in different ways. Sometimes, it is harder for me to understand a concept from a book, so during those times I look for other resources like other books, Youtube, and ask my friend or teacher. By trying new things, you will then realize that there are so many ways for solving the problems.That way, it is easier to get out of a rut.


4.   Pacing yourself

Getting over a rut

“What does ‘stuck’ mean?” “It means I should make some big decision, I should do some enormous thing. And I can’t do anything. I can’t stand my life, and I can’t change it.” “Maybe it’s not an enormous thing,” he says. “Maybe you have to do one small thing and then another small thing.”

A.M. Homes


All of us function quite differently. So it will be unfair to expect everyone to work as equally efficient. Most of the time, the reason why our planning fails is that we try to do so much in a short time which can lead to failure and us disheartening. So pace what you can do to your limit with breaks in between. Especially in our medical field, the content we are reading is enormous, so even if we plan to finish something in a certain day, it can take a lot more time than what we think. This constant pushing ourselves leads us to breaking down. I recently went through the same thing. My friend reads way faster than me. And I have friends who do so much one after another despite the same study volume we have to go through. I feel like I have to do more and more. The schedule was packed and each planning was started with how much I can achieve in a given day. And obviously I was bound to fail because of the study volume itself and exhaustion.  So what I did was I extended the deadline for some tasks while cutting off some of my tasks meanwhile. I also blocked out distractions and focused on the urgent tasks only. That way, I finished slower than usual but I felt quite better. Through this, I realize change happens in a simple way that by doing a little at a time. It reminded me that my pace was different from that of others and I can still do things at my own pace. There are things I can do at a faster rate and there are things that do take time. I realize I have to work through it and also abiding the fact that change takes time. 

Most of the time, changes are like that. They are subtle. They take place without our notice. So what matters is going slowly each day without a fail starting little by little. I recently read a book called Atomic Habit by James Clear. He starts by how an accident while playing baseball changed his life. Due to his accident, he lost his position in the baseball team. He was disheartened but while staying in the dorm, he made simple habits like sleeping and waking up early and making bed. He went on to become a top male athlete. His habit also enabled him from being a blog writer to now a phenomenal book seller. His book Atomic Habit is a highly popular book of our time where he describes how to create lasting habits. He says in the book that habits tend to compound in the long term. So, it doesn’t matter even if it is little, what matters is to keep going. Things however mundane it seems, slowly add over the time. You might not believe that writing a page each day can lead to a book someday. So, start slow and keep going.


5.   Accepting

Getting over a rut

“What would it be like if I could accept life--accept this moment--exactly as it is?”

Tara Brach, Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha


Recently, I have been reading this beautiful book “Radical Acceptance” by Tara Brach. I found a fundamentally beautiful thing in the book that is to accept ourselves as it is. Even our not so perfect flaws and our emotions. Our innate nature is loving. So when we open up to what we feel and listen without judgment that our heart opens up with love for us. 

Most of the time, what we do when we are stuck in a rut, we just want to get out of it quickly and don’t check on ourselves what is going on with us. There may be judgments within us now more that we are not able to do anything. We are thinking ourselves as a failure and we are really lacking inside.

As we operate with this self inadequacy that something is lacking within us due to being stuck in a rut, it even empowers the feeling that something is lacking within us. That something is wrong with us. That we are not likeable. During times like this what we can do is take a pause and listen to what comes to our heart without judgments. Changes are hard. We go through periods of up and down. What we can do is we can accept our emotions in both highs and lows. We don't always feel the same always and it’s okay. It isn’t our whole identity. We are as dynamic as our soul is. If you are going through hard times, it's always okay to seek help from your loved ones and professional help too. You can write what is bothering you in paper and all the feeling of fear and inadequacy. You can look up to finding motivation and also look for ways to make yourself feel grounded. I normally go to soothing music during those days. There are days when I find hard waking up in the morning, and continuing through the day. I feel lost and question life itself. During those moments, I just let go of what I have to do and sit there and listen to myself and slowly pick myself or sometimes just do different things and come back at problems later. When things get overwhelming, I take a break and not do anything. To be very honest I still find it hard in maintaining balance in my life till now and getting over this need of perfection and falling into rut at times. When I just let life flow, life open up itself. It was beautiful just I couldn't appreciate it. I have learnt to be patience through this experience and still have a long way to go. But I have learnt to enjoy this journey. Some days are good some days are tough and I am only a human with so much emotions. It's okay to feel not fine some days. I feel now that happiness is not only the parameter to judge a good life but a good life also lies in our strength to handle life in both high and low. A good life doesn't only consist of happy moments but a mixture of happy and sad moments like how day and night compliment each other.  So, I want to assure you it is very natural to fall into rut. Let's accept our emotions and keep going for it and not forgetting to enjoy our life for life is now.

“Pain is not wrong. Reacting to pain as wrong initiates the trance of unworthiness. The moment we believe something is wrong, our world shrinks and we lose ourselves in the effort to combat the pain.”

Tara Brach, Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha



Getting over a rut

This concludes my article. I hope it will be helpful to you. If you like the article, sharing would mean a lot to me. I would love to hear from you too what you do to get out of rut yourselves. You can follow me at my Facebook Page, Pinterest and Instagram where I would be regularly updating. Thank you see you next time till then stay safe.