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Tired man sitting in office
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“When I’m in a rut, I try to do something that makes me feel really uncomfortable. Most recently, I took an improv class and did a comedy set at a fundraiser for my kids’ school in front of an audience of about 1,000 people. That experience gave me a year’s worth of energy. Doing something that makes you feel uncomfortable forces you to use a new skill set. I realized that the reason I felt so nervous backstage was that I cared so much. Sometimes when we get into a rut, we forget that we care.”

—Randi Zuckerberg, 36, author and founder of Zuckerberg Media

“Sometimes there is a big, looming task you need to check off so you can become more productive and creative. You’ve got to take some time to clear the deck a bit. I do retreats for myself when I need to write. I will go away for three days and say, ”Don’t call me unless the place is burning down.“ Coming back, I feel really rejuvenated because I’ve had an opportunity to focus on myself. It’s not always exciting—sometimes I'll just go to Panera and plant myself at a table for four or five hours. Being away from the chaos and turning the ringer off helps a lot.”

—Gregory Hicks, 46, professor and chair of physical therapy at the University of Delaware

“A work rut can mean a lot of things for me. It can be feeling overwhelmed by what needs to get done, or it can be a creative rut, when the synapses are just not firing. I find when there is a lot of output, whether I’m developing a story or content, I need to take time to recharge and refill the creative well. To do that, I watch a lot of television. I also listen to a lot of podcasts when I’m cooking and cleaning. That’s really helpful for getting my creative juices flowing. I get my best ideas when I’m linking them to real-life stories.”

—Sana Amanat, 35, Vice President of Content and Character Development at Marvel Comics

“I believe fear often holds us back, and to get myself out of that space, I have to literally create space. That usually means achieving the high of some sort of a workout, getting out of the building and pushing myself. I live in San Francisco on a big hill, and when I walk or jog to the top of that hill, it’s the closest I feel to being on top of the world. When I push up the hill and see a view of the city, I feel like I have the space and drive to think about what I need to tackle next. It really helps me get those endorphins going. That’s when I feel most powerful.”

—Cassie Divine, 40, head of Quickbooks Self-Employed at Intuit

“If I am in a rut at work, I change my schedule for the day. We ship everything out of our office, so if I’m feeling like I can’t think of what our next photo shoot should be or I’m stuck on a design concept, I’ll leave my space and help pack shipments. Sometimes I'll head down the street to people watch. In New York City, there is not a second during the day that’s dull. I'll put my jacket on and go outside, and right there in my face is so much to take in. Leaving the office and using my brain in a different way frees up room for new ideas.”

—Mignonne Gavigan, 36, a jewelry designer in New York City