Getting Unstuck

If you’re looking for a new job or happily employed, there are moments in your professional life when you feel immobile, despite your best efforts. Here are a few pointers for getting unstuck.

MariKondo Your Life

In the bestselling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, Marie Kondo suggests getting rid of anything that doesn’t spark joy. This, of course, pertains to not only your house, but to your career. What can you declutter from your resume, office, and desktop—virtual or physical? This concept also translates into professional commitments. What activities can you stop doing, improve upon, or delegate?

Always Be Closing

As Alec Baldwin’s character asserts in the 1992 film Glengarry Glen Ross, always be closing. How does this pertain to the information fields, you ask? Think about projects and tasks that you can finish. What has been lingering on your to-do list that you’d love to complete? Then commit your time to finish it. Assign yourself one task that you will prioritize for the day. Focus on it with Jedi-like precision, and you will feel the victory of progress.

Feel the Pain

What action are you dreading? Do it before all others. Often it’s just a matter of getting started. Use the Pomodoro technique; many free apps are available. Using a timer, work for 25 minutes with a five-minute break. For particularly heinous tasks, promise yourself that you only have to do one Pomodoro’s worth of work. Once you start, you’ll usually want to continue. Even if you don’t, you’ll be surprised by how much was accomplished during that period of constant activity.

Procrastinate Like a Champ

Or do the opposite and harness the power of procrastination. If you have something that you must do, put it off by accomplishing smaller tasks. Keep track of your to-do list with the role-playing productivity game Habitica (a personal favorite) or good old-fashioned pen and paper. While the main activity won’t get done until later, you’ll do all the things you needed to do anyway while whittling away your excuses for not focusing on your primary task. When the other responsibilities are done, your only choice will be to work on your main assignment. 

Reach Out

Be a person of action, and think about ways in which you can re-engage with the field.  What book, podcast, or blog post should you check out to keep up with the profession? Attend the next professional event in your area. Sometimes institutions host tours of their facilities or overviews of their projects. Often they are organized by local professional associations, but you can go on personal tours if you reach out to someone at the organization. You’ll be surprised by the generosity of your fellow librarians and archivists.

Mine Social Media

Search LinkedIn for career information. Look at people with jobs you’d like to have. What have they done that you can replicate? If you find someone in particular who has a path that interests you, ask them about their career trajectory. Research organizations with positions or departments that appeal to you. Follow them on social media to get updates on their activities and to find ways to engage with them.

Write Professionally

Contact journals for book review opportunities. Many journals are looking for reviewers, and the requirements for entry as a reviewer are low. You’ll be reading what you should be reading anyway, for free, and will contribute to the profession by offering your opinions on the topic. Contribute to a blog or start a blog yourself. And don’t forget to consider writing for LinkedIn! That’s how I just got unstuck.

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What do you do to get unstuck?

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