App review: Unstuck for iPad

If you need a little help to get beyond a tricky problem or personal issue, Unstuck can help walk you through the process and identify your next step

NameBrainstorming: Unstuck
At a glance:Works through the causes of being stuck in a step-by-step process
Summary:A tool to help work through a problem

If you have a problem, whether it’s a work big project that’s bogged down, a personal dilemma that you’re not sure how to tackle, or just a moment of procrastination, iPad app Unstuck can help solve it.

If you’ve ever considered changing career, or starting one, then you may have run across a book called What Color Is My Parachute. Unlike some career books, it doesn’t tell you what to do, but it walks you through the process of figuring out what drives you, and lets you jump from there.

In a similar way, Unstuck doesn’t deliver one single solution. Instead, it walks you through your feelings of being stuck. Unstuck walks you through the experience of being stuck in a five-step process, from feelings and emotions, to effects, thoughts and actions. You can only move onto the next step once you complete the step you’re on, but only one of the steps is tricky to accomplish, no matter how bogged down you might be.

Take the emotions step, for example: you’re offered a set of cards to choose from. You might pick that you are ‘tired’ or ‘hazy’, and Unstuck offers a descriptive sentence and a sliding scale, so that you can rank how tired or hazy you are. Or you could reject it and choose something more appropriate.

Next, you’re asked whether it’s affecting work or home life, or both, and whether it affects you or you and others around you.

Then comes the hard part. A blank sheet of paper with just “I’m stuck because...” written at the top invites you to write out some of the reasons you’re stuck. Sum up the problem in a sentence or two - no more than 200 words. Because Unstuck recognises how daunting this can be, it provides examples that others have written recently.

So far so good, but there are a few steps left in our sticky journey.  “What thoughts are you having?” asks the app, pointing out that the thoughts you’re having may be triggered by the feelings about being stuck, and that can affect how you get unstuck. Again, this is tough to figure out sometimes, so Unstuck makes it easier - it has a stack of twenty or so cards, which you sort into “so me” and “not me” categories.

That’s the thinking done. But what are you doing? You get to choose three actions from a list of possibilities, such as “flip-flopping”, “pursuing other projects” and “not giving it your all”.

Done? So is Unstuck. It categorises you based on your responses so far.

For my stuck moment, the app labelled me an “Idle Achiever”. Apparently, 23% of the Unstuck community is also having an Idle Achiever moment right now, so I don’t feel alone.

If you think the diagnosis is inaccurate, there’s a chance to try for an alternate one. That’s particularly useful if things are close, but don’t quite hit the mark - you can refine the answers you gave previously.

If you’re happy that you’ve been summarised accurately, Unstuck has some advice and a gallery of tools from which it will offer one for your situation. It told me that to get unstuck, I would have to commit, and that the next step for me was to “explain away procrastination”.

My selected tool was the app version of a five-year-old that asks a lot of questions, and I spotted a couple of things that might be holding me back. If I had no success though, I could tell the app I had no solution and try another tool, or start over.

Unstuck saves your past stuck moments, so you can see what’s worked for you in the past, and you can always just go straight to the gallery from the menu if you’re impatient.

Unstuck is great if you like outside input when you’re puzzling over something, and it tackles things in a very pretty, engaging package.

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Zara Baxter

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