What’s more productive, and easier, than effort?

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We often think that being productive requires effort. We have to put in loads of time to get it all done. We have to summon the willpower to get past the procrastination. We have to pull together these large kickoff meetings to get the project going

But there is another way to get things done and it isn’t considered as often as it should be.


Allow me what might seem a deviation for a moment.

Let’s look at Newton’s first law of motion which is also known as the law of inertia. The law states that an object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

Lots of jibberjabber that basically say it take energy to get started, and it take energy to change speed … whether that’s an increase or decrease in speed … and it takes energy to change direction. Things tend to continue as are unless you apply a force.

That’s inertia.

As much as no person should be ‘objectified’, we are much the same. To get going on an activity …. especially a large one or an unpleasant one … you often need a kick start. Hence the thought of effort.

The Alternative

The reason we need such a push in the beginning is the level of change we need to kickoff. Like objects we have an inertia as well.

Consider instead that you reduce the degree of change you need to kick start.

So instead of having to write a whole book, all you need to do is write the introductory paragraph. Instead of needing to organise an entire offsite 100-person retreat, all you have to do is define the retreat outcome. Instead of having to organise the summer road trip to your parents, all you have to do is make two (2) lists – one list of everything that needs to be planned and a second list of everyone who can help in planning.

It suddenly feels more doable, less effort … less inertia.

And here’s the interesting thing that happens in those scenarios. Once you get moving on that initial action, you tend to pick the next small chunks. You write another paragraph, narrow your retreat location based on outcome, match everyone who can help to everything that needs planned, and so forth.

And then you start building momentum.

Because the trick is that to overcome inertia, you want to make smaller changes, more often. And before you realise it … you’re moving … and picking up speed … without nearly the same amount of effort.

So next time your mind starts feeling like it’s effort … stop for a minute and think instead: There is inertia here. How do I find a smaller change to start? How do I build momentum?

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