The Power of Momentum

Do you ever have days when you’re trying to get something done but keep telling yourself things like:

“Okay, I’ll start after I read one more blog post.”

“I’m just going to scroll through a couple more things on my Newsfeed.”

“It’s 1:21.  At 1:30, I’ll get back to work.”

“I’m almost done with this chapter / episode / article of my newest book / Netflix show / magazine.”

“After I eat a snack, I’ll be more focused.” 

I find myself using these rationalizations all the time.  And they seem productive because I feel like I’m giving myself a little break, which will set me up for success.  

But what I’ve found is that I’ve usually got it backwards.  One of those rationalizations can easily snowball into another until 2 hours have passed and I’m still telling myself, “I’ll start in 3 minutes when it’s 3:45…”

Momentum is powerful.  Once I start on the procrastination track, it can be incredibly hard to escape back to being productive.  But on the flipside, a tiny accomplishment is often all it takes to get the ball rolling and start a chain reaction of productivity. 

And the irony is, once I’ve accomplished my goals for the day, I can really enjoy pure leisure time instead of stealing minutes of distraction by procrastinating throughout the day. 

It can be hard to get started though.  In physics, kinetic energy is “the work needed to accelerate a body from rest to its stated velocity.”  Once a body is in motion, it will stay in motion until a force changes its velocity – which is what we call momentum. 

It can take a lot of initial energy to get a ball (or our brains) rolling, but once it’s in motion, we are quite literally “on a roll.”

If you find yourself constantly getting stuck in procrastination loops, it can be helpful to break the procrastination momentum.  Standing up is a simple but effective tool I use to force myself to break my attention away from whatever I’m using to distract myself. 

Then, to start the productivity loop, I focus on accomplishing one small item on my to-do list.  The momentum builds pretty quickly, and soon I find myself wondering why I was procrastinating in the first place. 

How do you use momentum to your advantage to accomplish more of the things you actually want to do in life?  I’d love to hear your tips and strategies in the comments! 

Posted on March 19, 2015 .