Being Fruitful in a Time of Transition: Momentum

Matt Stauffer

I recently moved from Florida to Chicago, and my physical location isn’t the only thing that changed; I transferred cities, regions, climates, jobs, workspace, and much more. Reader Ross Black suggested we write an article about being fruitful in a time of transition, and I thought I might write the article I wished I had read before my transition.

Ross’ email was full of great questions, and I’ll answer a few here, but I’d also love for anyone with ideas to chime in in the comments.

This is a three part series:

Keeping/Gaining Momentum in Limbo

I’m no expert, but I certainly have plenty of experience with struggling with momentum. Here are a few tips that have served me well in my transitional times.

  • Lack of momentum in the long term often is synonymous with lack of direction. If it’s possible, take time to have a clear understanding of your goals.
  • Lack of momentum in the short term is usually connected with difficulty know what to do next. This is where productivity systems like GTD shine; GTD, at least, focuses on breaking every task into little, easy-to-comprehend pieces. How many times have you sat staring at your computer/paper, not sure what to do next? Spend some time breaking all of your goals/tasks into easy-to-understand bite-sized pieces, and then when you’re braindead, you can just pick up a piece and start working on it.
  • Often our limbo in life lines up with a limbo in work; we’ve finished all of our previous projects and have no new projects lined up for a few days/weeks. This is the perfect time to wrap up the old, start the new, and/or treat it like a rainy day:

Wrapping Up Old Things

Many times we don’t realize how much time can go into really wrapping up well. Have you prepared the role for the person coming after you? Are they going to have to email you with questions every day, or, worse, flounder because you didn’t communicate something to them?

Spend this time tying up loose ends–old emails, things you always needed to get to but never did, writing down wisdom and resources that only exist in your head–so that when you start what’s next, there’s a clear and healthy break with your former position.

Also, think: Now that you’re freed of much of the day-to-day responsibilities of your previous position, this may be the perfect time to reflect on your time there, both for personal reasons and also to bless the person coming after you.

Starting New Things

There’s a good chance you’ll have some new projects coming up that will occupy your time, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start something new before they come up. Maybe this is the time to start a new discipline, start a blog, start using a productivity system, or whatever else you know you want to do to be a better person and a better worker. Start it now, before you’re overwhelmed with your new responsibilities, and it will be able to continue when you get into your normal work groove.

Treat every day like a rainy day

What about all those things you put in your “some day” folder? Articles to read. Professional development books and courses. Learning a new language (or programming language.) An entrepreneurial idea that’s festered in the back of your  head for years.

These are the ideas that depend a lot on your employment–of course, you can’t always just take two weeks off and learn Spanish instead of working. That is, unless you’re more capable of doing your job as a Spanish-speaker and your supervisor OK’s it. Use caution here, but get creative; any employer worth their salt wants you to improve yourself, and this may be just the time.


Check back later this week for more tips on transitioning well!

By Matt Stauffer | Posted: Dec 21, 2011
Category: Miscellaneous, Time & Task Management | Permalink | Post a comment | Trackback URL.

One Comment

  1. Marie Stumpf
    October 4, 2013, 7:09 am | Permalink

    This was very inspiring. Our office is going through transition, we have 7 new people who just arrived. Today, our section of the office teamed up and went through old cabinets and files we’ve not looked at in years. Found alot of things useful for others, and cleared out much needed space. This inspired me to work on written documentation of some of my projects I’ve been meaning to work for many months! I think productivity breeds more productivity!


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