Why is it that when you’ve done nothing all day, it feels infinitely harder to get something accomplish? Or when you’ve been blowing through your to-do list, you feel like the energizer bunny of productivity that just keeps going and going.
Inertia is not just a law of mass and motion, but also a major function of productivity.
A body in motion stays in motion….and gets shit done.
You know how they say the hardest part is getting started? That’s why mornings are so important — and my favorite part of the day. How you get started sets the tone for how productive you’ll be.
Get Started When You Wake Up
When your alarm goes off in the morning, do you hit snooze and go back to sleep? Ever notice how it just makes getting up that much harder?
For me, immediately accomplishing a task in the morning — something as simple as making my bed — puts me on the path to having a more productive day.
Get up, make bed, have coffee, work. Then by the time I’m at my desk job, I’ve already got the ball going. This is why routines can be awesome.
But once you’ve mastered the morning, how do you keep yourself moving all day? Especially when you’re stuck at a desk — the ultimate inertia-killer.
The To Do List
When you sit down to work, do you find yourself staring at your to-do list and getting so overwhelmed that you do nothing at all? I know this feeling all too well. The easiest thing becomes “do nothing” or “wait until you’ve procrastinated so long that the task you HAVE to accomplish makes itself known via looming deadline.” That last one takes the ever-challenging decision-making factor out of the equation so you know exactly what you have to do next — always helpful when you really don’t know where to get started.
But without stressful external pressure, how do you get yourself moving?
You have two options:
- Tackle the most important task first to get it out of the way, or
- Tackle a small, easy task to get the ball rolling.
There are different schools of thought on this. One the one hand, getting the important work out of the way ensures that anything that has to get done actually gets done. But I personally find that taking on the big stuff first is a great way to keep myself procrastinating even longer, until something absolutely has to be finished.
Instead, my preference is to get the ball rolling with easier tasks. As I accomplish small tasks, satisfaction in my work builds and I’m much more likely to roll into some of my bigger projects.
[Tweet “Sometimes it takes a few small tasks to get you started before you can take on the big ones.”]
One thing to be wary of, however, is that you don’t spend all of your energy on completing small, less pressing tasks. You want to spend only enough time to get you motivated to keep working and then tackle the large ones. The worst thing you can do is spend so much energy on small tasks that by the time you finish those, you’re too mentally exhausted to tackle the large ones.
The trick is to get yourself moving and then capitalize on the momentum before it runs out. After all, motivation and decision making are limited resources.
Be Wary of Breaks
If you need to keep getting things done, the worst thing you can do is take an unnecessary break. Be careful about letting yourself take a few minutes to sit down and rest because as the momentum leaves, the chances that you’ll get back up and keep going rapidly decline. Try to use your momentum to get everything you need done before you even consider a break. Your breaks should come only when it would be okay if nothing else got done for the day — it may take more energy than you realize to get started again.