If you’ve ever been tasked with creating something, whether it is a product, design or copy, you’ve probably hit a mental roadblock at least a couple times. In my experience, it seems I hit a roadblock when I have a lot of different things to do and am trying to create something new and different from my usual style.

While it can be tempting to just shove the project aside and forget it exists, that should never be an option and giving up on projects won’t help you get ahead in your career. Instead, it is important to take a few breaths, and find a way to complete the project.

Here’s what works for me:

  • Stick to familiarity: If you are pressed for time and it is acceptable to do so, follow a design you have previously successfully used. If using a particular design layout and color scheme works for what you are doing, use it as a template for your project. Having a basic template can save you time and sanity when deadlines are quickly approaching.  Templates can also help maintain a brand image.
  • Ask for opinions: And don’t limit it to those in your creative department. I’ve received incredible feedback from colleagues in accounting and sales because they can look at things with fresh eyes. Just remember to trust your instincts on the final product to ensure the quality deserves your name on it.
  • Sketch out ideas: It can be hard to see the framework of a project when it is covered in images and colors. Try sketching out three or four basic layouts on a sheet of paper and go from there. Sometimes laying out the basic skeleton of a project is all you need to build your ideas on.
  • Take a break: When was the last time you were away from your desk? If you are feeling fried, take a walk outside or to the water cooler to refresh your mind and reset the panic alarm that has been going off in your mind. If you can clear the scatter in your brain, it will be easier to focus on your project.
  • Write a to-do list: When I have multiple projects to complete at once, I can get very overwhelmed and it affects my concentration. By writing a list of what needs to be done, I can tackle each project as it is listed and feel a sense of accomplishment each time I cross something off my list.
  • Focus on the end project: What are you trying to achieve? Instead of getting overwhelmed with all the details, imagine the final product in its entirety. Sometimes the feeling of calm this imaging brings is enough to help you clearly see what you need to do to complete the task.

If you can’t tell, I’m in the middle of a block right now, so this is me stepping aside for a moment to calm my stress level and find the best way to complete my projects. It is much less daunting now when I can see two projects are complete pending final approval and the remaining projects are intertwined, so I will be complete soon. This makes things much easier on me and I know I have a greater chance of completing my work if I take the time to focus on completing one thing at a time.