Momentum has a profound effect on willpower and productivity. Negative momentum can hurt your productivity tremendously and positive momentum can help your productivity tremendously. This article will describe how to stop negative momentum, how to build positive momentum, and how to sustain it.
You might notice that when you’ve been sitting around all day, it’s a lot harder to go to the gym than when you’ve been busy all day. Conversely, when you’ve been working 12 hour days every day, it’s easier to keep working than when you come back from a long Summer vacation.
Below are six tips on harnessing momentum to boost your productivity.
1. Cut Negative Momentum
Feeling unproductive can hurt your confidence and make you even more unproductive. You first must cut negative momentum before you can start building positive momentum. Recognize that what you’ve done (or not done) in the past is in the past. Don’t beat yourself up for something you can’t change. Be in the present moment. In the present moment, you have a choice about how to proceed. This is a tactic I’ve learned from meditation.
2. Start with Small Wins
Like pushing a heavy object, going from standstill is the hardest part. Once you get it moving and start building momentum, it gets easier. For personal productivity, start with small, less intimidating tasks. Trying to tackle a huge task without a warm-up seems daunting. Failing to do so would be discouraging. Start small to build some momentum before trying to tackle bigger tasks. The confidence you get from the initial accomplishments will help you with larger tasks later on. To illustrate, if you want to run a marathon, you wouldn’t start by trying to run a marathon, you would start by trying to run a mile or two.
3. Reward Yourself for Accomplishments
Rewards give your brain some validation for hard work, which gives confidence and makes you crave more. Give yourself rewards after significant accomplishments. I’ve recently started taking James Altucher’s advice of writing a list of small wins and accomplishments at the end of the day–like a reverse to-do list. Writing down my accomplishments reinforces my productivity and helps build momentum. After major accomplishments you could go out for a nice dinner or dessert.
4. Stay Consistent and Form a Habit
Once you build the initial momentum, sustain it by forming habits. Make a habit of continuing work hard and completing tasks. Do your best to stay on a consistent schedule. Get yourself used to working hard and completing tasks every day.
5. Take Pride in your Work
I’ve recently gained an appreciation for the feeling of pushing myself. I take pride in being productive. Pushing yourself, while difficult at the time, makes you stronger for the next time you need to work hard. Like running for those extra few minutes or doing that last rep at the gym, giving your brain and body the experience of pushing through will make it easier to push through next time.
6. Take Breaks to Sustain Energy
Once you’ve built momentum, don’t forget to take breaks when appropriate to avoid burnout. Taking breaks will help you sustain your momentum and productivity over time. Be conscious of when you’re getting a lower return on the time you’re putting in, and just take a break. Keep yourself craving that feeling of pushing yourself. Don’t get sick of it. It might hurt your productivity in the short-term, but it will help you tremendously in the long-term to take breaks. Some feel they should always be pushing themselves as much as possible, but in practice, it can be quite detrimental to your productivity in the long-term to overwork yourself.