Wednesday, November 3, 2010

On Momentum

Kuvassa maalaus Ruiskukkia vuodelta-- 1975--Veikko Vionoja

I do a lot of skimming as I’m looking for blogs to tweet on Twitter.

Sometimes I stop and read the post carefully—and that was the case with a blog post on Work Awesome that I came across the other day.

The article’s author, Oleg Mokhov, made a great point about starting the day out with good momentum. He recommends leaving the last task of the day unfinished so that you can quickly pick up where you left off the next day and polish the task off quickly—thus racking up a speedy ‘win’ to set your day in motion.

He recommends outlining each step needed to complete the task the day before—so there’s no ambiguity that could lead to procrastination. He calls that procrastination start paralysis.

I’ve always used this idea with my writing—I never leave off the day with a scene that I’m not looking forward to writing (a complex scene, a scene with lots of characters, etc.). I try to end my writing time by leaving off at a spot where I’m excited about picking up the next day. Then I sketch out a really quick mini-outline of what I’m planning on writing the following day. This means that I’m eager to pick up my book the next day and don’t put it off.

But it seems to me that it would also help my productivity to quickly complete off a non-writing-related task the next day. Some mornings I wake up already feeling deflated, thinking about all the work I have in store for the day. It would probably help my writing out if I completed a task I started the day before—I’d feel encouraged by my progress right at the beginning of the day.

I have a suspicion that one of the things that grabbed me about this article, when I was skimming it, is the Hemingway quotation at the bottom. :)

The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day…you will never be stuck.

Hemingway’s quotation was parsed by another blog, The Second Act, some time back. They listed the benefits to this method:

You :

  • Avoid being stuck
  • Keep the momentum going
  • Start your day by the rewarding work of finishing a task
  • Boost your self-confidence and motivation levels before starting the next task
  • End your day on a high note
  • Put your brain to purposeful rest when you stop working
  • Allow you subconscious to work profitably on it = the bigger picture = your goal.

Again, this seems to work just as well with non-writing tasks as much as meeting our daily writing goal.

I like the idea of starting out the day with a win. How do you build momentum at the start of your day? Or are you finding it later on?