This is the question I ask myself every day since a few weeks. I'm working on a big project proposal which I want to have finished before the little one takes its first glimpse of the outside world. It is my top priority and I spend a lot of time on it, not only during "working hours". The rough plan for the project is there - already since a few months - but since then it seems I am not progressing at all. Parts of the project are a bit outside of my general expertise, so I'm reading a lot of papers to get a solid literature background, but for some reason this does not help my project idea to grow. When I did my PhD I thought that reading 3 papers per day is just as much as I could intake - this number has increased significantly and I got a lot better in deciding if a paper is worth reading in full length or not. So besides from my general displeasure when I realize that I printed out a bunch of papers from the same set of authors and they all show exactly the same stuff, sometimes even with exactly the same wording, I'd say my reading evolves very well - just not the project.
So what is all the time spend on reading worth if I can peal a good project out of it? My head says it is still progress and the turning point will come, but emotionally it is deeply frustrating that I can't see obvious progress steps and that I can't tick entries on my to-do list, because none of them is really finished yet and will not be finished until the stuff is handed in. And the weeks fly by *whoosh* - there seems to be no significant time between Monday and Friday and all my effort to get started on the project early on (and I got started early on!) went down the drain already months ago. Can somebody please drop a bag of motivation and confidence at our door?