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This is a common phenomenon for us associates.

When it happens, and if I can afford the luxury, I find it helpful to put aside the thoroughly pointless and confusing mess I am stumbling through with no progress, and only come back to it 1-2 days later. Of course, this assumes the availability of the 1-2 day "reflection period" to begin with. If 1-2 days aren't available, sometimes even 1-2 hours will help. And if even that's not available, I'll meander into the office of a trusted friend at the firm (junior associate or paralegal), and take a few minutes of his/her time to explain my dilemna. Usually the friend will not have answers for me, but forcing myself to try and explain it by itself sheds light on what I'm supposed to be doing.

I'm not sure this is the exact kind of problem you describe in your post. But that's what I understood you to be saying anyway. :)

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