Some Observations On Inertia And A Cool Online App For Getting Things Done

A routine can be a powerful thing in productivity.  It helps instil a sense of inertia and, as I’ve talked about in posts like this, or  this one , keeping the ball rolling is usually a lot easier than initially getting it to roll.  The counter-intuitive reality behind doing things is that:

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Activity leads to other activity.  It creates its own inertia.

Bodies at rest tend to stay at rest.

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The counter-intuitive part of this is when you’re sitting on a sofa and think, “I’m really tired.  I  just have to rest for a second and mentally gear myself up for this”.  Inertia is working at keeping you sitting on the couch.  If there’s a TV on or an internet connection – it’s working double time.

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The reality is that just getting up and doing the thing actually takes less energy that expending the energy debating with yourself about whether or not you have the tools or the energy to do something.

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The caveat is that this assumes we’re talking about moderate activity.  If you’ve just run a marathon, I’m not advocating staying on your feet if you need to rest.  I’m talking about procrastination versus physical exhaustion.

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Procrastination is an energy suck

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Completing projects is invigorating.  It’s that energy that comes from getting something done and thinking, “All right – what’s next?” It takes way more mental energy to keep putting something off than to just deal with it.

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Here are some tips that may be helpful:

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  • Have goals.  If you don’t know what you’re trying to do – you’re not likely to figure out the how.
  • If you have something you’re procrastinating – try to tackle small parts of if consistently.  You’re going to get more mileage out of small daily improvements than trying to cram something into a marathon session.
  • Monitor progress.  This goes along with goal setting but it’s important to check back and see how you’re progressing.
  • Be accountable but pragmatic.  Either to yourself or other people, to get things done, it’s important to be held to your goals.  Along with monitoring progress, being pragmatic (rather than judgemental) about your progress will help as well.  If things aren’t progressing they way you’d like – beating yourself up isn’t going to help the process.  By monitoring things you can see what works and what doesn’t work and adjust as necessary.

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I Done This

Neither a typo or an obscure pop reference, I want to thank my friend Daren Burns for bringing this to my attention.  I done this.com is a cool free online productivity tool that combines some of the tips that I’ve mentioned above,  Here’s a quote from the web page:

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“iDoneThis is an email-based productivity log. This evening, you’ll receive your first email from us asking, “What’d you get done today?” Just respond to our email and we record what you wrote into your calendar. Use your progress from yesterday to motivate you today.”

By helping to monitor progress and helping keep consistency and accountability, this could be something to help get the ball rolling for you. If you have something you’ve been putting off doing (like practicing) try it for a week and see what happens.

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I hope this helps!  Thanks for reading.

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