I was thinking the other days about how to be more productive and I made a connection to Newton’s laws. Now I’ll be the first to admit I know little about physics or Newton’s laws, but I’m fairly sure there is one that goes something like: “And object in motion will stay in motion and an object at rest will stay at rest unless acted upon by an outside force.” Meaning, essentially, that a ball will keep rolling until it hits a wall, and box will stay still until someone pushes it.
While thinking about this, I thought about how this applies to humans too. I know for myself that when I’m “at rest” or not being productive, I tend to stay in that state until something, whether it’s an outside force or my brain going “okay, quit being lazy and do something!” And generally speaking, once I start on a project or start doing things, I tend to keep going until it’s finished, I have to stop for an appointment or something, or I just tire myself out.
The trick then, is to figure out how I can better be my own “outside force” to get myself moving when I’m being lazy and unproductive. For several months because of my depression, it was incredibly difficult to do that and now I’m out of the habit. So what can we do to motivate ourselves and get moving?
1. Set a timer.
This one works great for me. I’ll set a timer for 15 minutes (sometimes longer, but usually around 15 minutes) and tell myself that I need to work for that 15 minutes. Sometimes I finish what I set out to do in that time. Sometimes I get in the groove (in motion!) and keep going. And sometimes I get to the end of that 15 minutes and call it good. But I’ve done something on whatever the project is.
2. Give yourself a reward.
Set some kind of reward for yourself if you complete the project or reach some other goal. Whether it’s watching a TV show, a favorite snack, a chance to relax or pamper yourself, or whatever it may be, give yourself some kind of reward as a motivation to get the thing done!
3. Break the task down
Sometimes it’s hard to get going because the task seems overwhelming and unmanageable. Break it down into smaller steps and choose one step to work on right now.
4. Set a deadline (and tell someone!)
This one works well for me because I can be fairly competitive with myself. Even better is telling someone else my deadline because then I’m working to make sure I don’t disappoint them and can tell them that yes, I did do what I told them I would. But for smaller things, I make it a competition against myself by telling myself to accomplish the thing in the time it takes for a playlist or a podcast or something to play.
Hopefully these ideas help you to apply Newton’s law and get in motion/productivity and stay in motion!