In a moment of desperation, yesterday evening I texted a friend who's a professor at another university. My message: "Well, it's 6:45 and I've graded 0 minutes today. Fail."
Moments later she wrote back, "Also 0 minutes. Aaaaahhhhhhh!"
In my defense, I changed the sheets on all the beds in our house, which has to count for at least one check in the day's productivity column. In her defense, she cleaned her sink of dirty dishes and watched three episodes of Downton Abbey on Netflicks.
Sometimes a human simply cannot function beyond this on a Sunday.
As we fired texts back and forth debating the cost-benefit analysis of starting to work versus throwing in the towel for the remainder of the night, she sent this gem of a text:
"I should decide one way or the other and live freely in that decision rather than sit in this purgatory I'm in now."
That simple one-liner stopped me in my tracks because it offered something that had eluded me: the permission to make a firm decision. I could choose to work. I could choose to not work. I didn't have to hover in that painful middle realm where I continually thought about grading without actually grading, which doubly fails because I neither make progress on work nor gain rest from it.
Decide one way or the other. Live freely in that decision.
That might be the best advice for getting unstuck that I've ever received.
As for her suggestion that I, too, should start watching Downton Abbey? Well, that might be the best advice for how I can get stuck more often in the first place.