Balance Goals Managing Self Planning Wellness

What to do when you’re stuck!

Written by Denise Mortati

Recently, I had a file I was working on that I just couldn’t finish. Loose ends couldn’t be tied. Documents were missing. The client just couldn’t understand why I needed so much useless (to them) information. It was a matter that was really trying my patience. It got to the point where I didn’t want to think about it anymore, and where I was starting to have nightmares about it. I was stressed every time I had to meet with the client, and every time I picked up the file.

This type of thing happens to us all the time. If it’s not a legal file, it can be a relationship that stresses us, or another type of task that is weighing us down, or even a closet or drawer that has needed organization for the longest time.

So, I’ve come up with a little game that helps me get through these difficulties, big and small. I promise myself that I am only going to allocate a small amount of time to the task: for me, it’s fifteen minutes. I set a timer, and get to work. I do whatever I can do in that time frame, knowing that it will be over soon, and I can move on to something else. I have convinced myself that I can do anything nasty for fifteen minutes. And I tend to work more efficiently, and get more done, than if I sit down with an open-ended plan to work on a file. There’s less procrastination. And when that timer goes off, I close the file and walk away, guilt-free. For something that needs more time than that, I may schedule a second session later on in the day. I keep doing this until I’m up to date.

You can choose any amount of time that works for you, and that you think you can stand. If you can’t stand chatting with your mother-in-law, promise yourself that you will only spend ten minutes on your phone conversation. Tell her that you’re off to an appointment, or that someone’s at the door, and end the call when the timer goes off. Although I understand that it’s a fib, it can be very liberating, I assure you, and overall, healthier for your relationship.

If you have a closet that has been stuffed past the point of capacity, set the time and take fifteen minutes to purge and organize. It’s definitely a start in the right direction, and can often motivate you to come back again another day for another round.

Call to action: What have you been avoiding? Can you schedule fifteen minutes to work on it? Set a timer and GO! As always, let me know your results in the comments below.

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About the author

Denise Mortati

My legal coaching practice helps attorneys rediscover their passion and look forward every day to a fulfilling career. I do this through one-on-one, group and corporate coaching, using specialized techniques and practices that help to clarify goals and priorities, and balance work and personal time. I support clients in finding peace in their careers and within themselves. I’m also a practicing attorney in a solo practice, so I, too, am “walking the walk” with my clients! I feel that my life’s mission is to change the paradigm of what a law career is “supposed” to be. Contact me at or visit my website,

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