Note: Prefer listening to reading? Scroll to the bottom for an audio narration of this post.
Common sense is not always common
Last weekend I began reading the book "Mini Habits" by Stephen Guise (review coming soon) and encountered his views on momentum, motivation, and willpower. While much of what I've read thus far seems more common sense than ground-breaking, I have to admit it wasn't common sense for me.
Maybe just the mere reading of his words on momentum started me down a path of productivity that was inevitable; perhaps not. Either way I can say this past week has been the most productive week I've had in a long time, and I don't feel the brakes being applied anytime soon. This snowball of getting stuff done (pardon the tired metaphor for momentum) started down the hill despite my coming back from Dragon*Con with the common "con crud".
It All Started Wednesday
Aside: My spouse would tell you I was highly productive on Tuesday but I don't take credit for that productivity because it all came from my calendar. I never feel like getting to and attending the appointments on my calendar carries the same weight as marking things off a task list. It could be the lack of a decisive "I did this thing" check mark or I could just be mad. Do you find yourself not taking the same credit for appointments as you do tasks? Let me know by commenting below.
Around noon-thirty on Wednesday I decided to sit down and check my email for the day and found an offer from Texture, a service I use, in my inbox that would be perfect for sharing. I had just over an hour in which to create an entirely new section on my website, write, proofread, change, proofread again, second guess and post my article before I was to call my coaching client. Challenge accepted!
Once I had created the article, I set out to create the webpage that will house all of my future "Stuff I Love" posts. From there I realized that page should go under an "About Keith" section, so that was created next. Then it hit me that "About Keith" is a ridiculous section to have without having any information about me; guess what happened next.
I'm quite sure the "about me" page is on a few different task lists, but it was not on my list for Wednesday. Likewise the "Stuff I Love" section has been in my mind since at least this time last year and is probably on my Someday/Maybe list.
When I woke up that morning, I never intended to do anything with the site, and in just over an hour a I had created a new section, two new pages and began my blogging "career"!
Momentum Carried Me Forward
As people in possession of an ADHD brain, it can be difficult to get the "push" we need to start the ball rolling down hill. It may be however that we need to look for smaller ways to get started. A simple email got me started and I was so pumped I continued down the mountain of previously undone stuff.
Post coaching call, I made the decision to edit together the segments of audio I recorded the previous week but had discarded as "not good enough" for a podcast. Somehow the idea of getting an episode out was now more important than the inner critic whose sole goal in life seems to be putting me down. Having recorded a quick confessional introduction and lacing together the words, breaths and pauses recorded in late August I found myself with my first episode in six months.
I also wound up breaking my Subscribe and Review page (on the list to be fixed) by fiddling with it, sent a bunch of emails I'd been meaning to do, came up with a flurry of new topics for future posts and podcasts, registered at the last-minute for a program I've been wanting to attend, and even put a few things on the old task list.
All this from a simple email!
Momentum Continued Despite a Day Off
Each Thursday generally finds me with a scheduled day off where I try my hardest not to be productive. This would seem an easy task for a guy that is posting about how hard it can be to get started (that is the crux of this post, right?), but nonetheless each week I'm admonished to "have a good day off" as my spouse heads off to work. Easier said than done, but this past Thursday I did indeed spend the day relaxing and taking care of my cold.
Much to my surprise, the momentum I'd built up on Wednesday carried through to Friday, where again I got a bunch of stuff done, much of it unplanned officially but contained somewhere between my head and completion. I even went far out of my comfort zone and did something I believed myself unqualified to do, yet found I am not only qualified, but actually very good at doing. More on that in a future post (gotta keep you coming back after all).
How did this happen, and how has the momentum that I started on Wednesday carried forward to today?
TL;DR - What I Learned
It turns out that momentum can be paused for a period of time and still carry one forward, as long as it doesn't stay paused for so long that it becomes part of the mountain. Using my now over-apologized-for metaphor, I put a wedge in front of the snowball on Thursday and Saturday. Friday and today (Sunday), I removed that wedge and the ball started downhill again.
Had the wedge been left in place Thursday, Friday, and Saturday that snowball very well may have melted and refrozen just enough to become part of the mountain. In other words, I very much doubt I'd have made a post to my Facebook page earlier today, and written this post to be published first thing on Monday.
I've also learned there is no certain amount or perfect type of momentum needed to get the ball of productivity rolling. The next time you find yourself unmotivated and depleted of willpower, look to the tool of momentum to begin checking things off your list. Look for a small task, followed by another, that can be done in "challenge mode" to get that snowball rolling again. Before you know it you'll be on the path to productivity!
In other words, I've learned there is no "perfect" (for about the 1000th time). ;-)
I'm curious to know whether you've found yourself suddenly driven forward by the power of momentum. Is it a tool you use regularly? How do you find it when you've let the ball sit for too long? Please share and comment below.