Hitting walls with a project? Going in circles? Try the Stuck Wheel

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Hitting walls with a project? Going in circles? Try the Stuck Wheel

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There are times in projects when you get completely stuck.

You may find yourself going in circles, with a million reasons why you can’t continue. These could be the fault of the client, overload of tasks, or a general bad feeling about how it’s all progressing.

For example you’re:

waiting for more information from someone else
not enjoying the project
struggling to understand the clients needs
overwhelmed by too many tasks
Every way you turn there is another reason NOT to progress, so nothing gets done.

This happens to me from time to time. I am often working on several projects at a time, and it can be easy to keep heading towards the easier ones than the harder ones. As a freelancer I don’t have a line manager to talk to, so this is one of those times when I need to play both roles.

That’s why I started using a Stuck Wheel.

Some of this stuff may seem really obvious, but it’s helped get me out of a stuck project many times.



You Will Need

A4 sheet of paper / large notebook

2 pens of different colours


Scannable Document 2 on 19 Nov 2015, 14_02_07

Stage 1

Write the name of the project in the centre of an A4 sheet of paper and draw a circle round it.

Then, creating a ‘spider diagram’ (and leaving space between each entry and the edge of the page) write down each of the problems you are facing with the project. All of them. They can be an insignificant or as personal as you like, no one else is going to see this. The idea is to capture all of the BLOCKS you are facing with this project. Think carefully about all the things you need to do, and why you can’t do them right now. Remember: there are no stupid entries here, so if you just hate the project, and don’t want to work on it any more, write it down. Just make sure its not the ONLY thing on your wheel!

Connect each problem to the central circle with a line.


Stage 2

Now it’s time to act like a boss for a moment.

Using the other pen, go through each of the problems and write a response to them. for example:


BLOCK: waiting for a response from client

ANSWER: email or call client for a response


BLOCK: don’t have the software i need

ANSWER: set aside some time to download and install the software


This seems pretty obvious, but it’s amazing how often these little easily solved problems can sit and fester, and halt the whole project.

However, when I do the STUCK WHEEL there are always some emotional blocks as well. The answers to these will depend on the particular project but could go as follows:


BLOCK: I’m worried XYZ will happen

ANSWER: it might. Plan for XYZ to happen by doing ABC


BLOCK: I don’t feel like doing this right now

ANSWER: (if the project is not urgent) – schedule a time to do this in the future, forget about it for now and do something else

ANSWER: (if the project is urgent) -TOUGH! you have a responsibility to your client and your business. JUST GET ON WITH IT


Seriously, this is how I talk to myself in my STUCK WHEEL. Sometimes you need someone to kick your arse, and in this instance, it has to be yourself.


Scannable Document 3 on 19 Nov 2015, 14_02_07


Stage 3

Read back through your answers and transfer any actionable items to your to-do list (in my case a bullet journal).

email client for confirmation on something
schedule a day to work on this another day
download X software




About Author

Caroline Beavon

A communication professional with 12 years journalism experience and a genuine passion for new technologies. An experienced blogger and social media user

"I’ve enjoyed working with Caroline on a data visualisation project for a complex £1.5m government funded programme running across Birmingham and Leicester. It’s been a high pressure programme with tough targets to meet, so finding the time to collect and make sense of all the data, from a range of sources, has been difficult. With Caroline’s help we managed to prioritise the key information and she then presented it in a clear, easy to grasp manner. Just what we needed. I found her dedicated, easy to work with and very fair on pricing. I would happily work with her again and I commend her and her work to you" Dave Conroy, Programme Manager, Timebank