Why We Need Momentum
Think of momentum in this way. Say you're riding a bike. If you pick up lots of speed early on by pedaling harder, you build up energy. This energy, known as momentum, allows you to maintain a certain speed while having to actually pedal less later on. Momentum is particularly important when you're biking uphill. It's also the key to long distance bike riding. You can do something similar with driving a car, speeding up fairly quickly then sort of coasting. This saves on fuel, too.
The beauty of concepts in physics is that the ideas can be applied in other forms. You can actually build momentum mentally and emotionally, as well. Say you have a big project coming up. It doesn't matter what it's for. If you get started on it right away, you have a much higher chance of seeing it through to completion.
Momentum Can Get You Ahead and Keep You Ahead
One of the beautiful things about momentum is that you can actually conserve energy if you build it up correctly. The longer that you put off a task, the more energy you'll have to burn later to get it done. It's like you're pedaling casually, even knowing that a steep hill is coming up along your way. Once you get there, without the proper momentum, it's going to feel like you're going uphill both ways.
When you put off a project, something similar happens. You find you have to use a lot more energy to make up for lost time, even if there isn't a specific deadline. Sometimes that thing doesn't even get done.
So, how do we find the momentum to get something done and done well? There are a few ways to gain momentum without going overboard. If you get just the right amount of momentum in whatever you're doing, you'll find yourself not only seeing things to completion more quickly and effectively, but that momentum can carry into other things you have to do, too.
Ask Someone to Help You Get Started
It sounds like common sense to ask someone to help you with a task. But this isn't always the case. People might not think of asking for help to start on some things. But having another person or persons help you get started is the best way to pick up momentum.
Start Work at a High Energy Time
Know yourself and when you have the most energy. Trying to start something when you're feeling sluggish or not at your best is often not a great way to get the proper momentum. If you have some choice when to get started, if you do, start when you have your best energy. Then, picking up later will be a lot easier, as you already have momentum going with the task. You may not always have this choice, but when possible, keep this in mind.
Avoid Distractions Whenever Possible
One of the biggest threats to productivity is distraction. Email and phone are two of the major ones. You also want to keep your working area as clean as possible. Then again, you may be one who loves to work in chaos. But in general, get started when you can have the least amount of distraction. Distractions kill your momentum by dispersing your energy in multiple directions.
Put a Time Limit on Your Task
Even if you only have twenty or thirty minutes to dive into something, that's enough to get something at least underway. Actually, it's better to spend even just twenty minutes completely focused on a task than three or four hours of constantly being interrupted and having to keep focusing. By setting a short time limit, you can allow yourself to take short breaks without losing your momentum.
Visualize the End Result
One major hurdle to clear in making progress with a task is not keeping the end goal in mind. “When is this ever going to get done?” you may ask yourself. Even with something as mundane as sweeping the floor, visualizing the end result helps you stay focused on the task. You'll feel a lot happier when you realize the end result if you were keeping it in your mind all along. For bigger projects, visualizing the realization of your goals is especially important. One of the keys to building momentum is focusing the energy and visualization is one of the best ways of doing just that.
Being Prepared Keeps You Focused
There's nothing more frustrating than not being prepared when you're setting out to work on something. If you go to get started and you're missing just one tool or don't have all the info you need to get started. These are moments that drain momentum. Even if you have to take some extra time to get what you need set up, it's worth it to set yourself up for building the right momentum.
Whatever You Do, Just Make Sure You Get Started
It's common sense that the only way to get something done is to get started. But sometimes, you can't choose when to do something. Many times you have a certain deadline. Even when there isn't a set time, you can't get any momentum if you don't just get started. While high energy times are best for doing anything, you can only put off doing something for so long. Even if you're not at your best energy level, if it's on your mind, and you have the desire to do something, just set yourself to get started. Whatever momentum you can build is worth it.
The key to building momentum is to make progress every time you put yourself to a task. If you don't have to, don't try to finish a task all at once. There's great benefit in having the end in mind but also knowing that you don't have to finish all at once. It's very possible to spend too much energy at once and actually lose momentum.
The key to momentum is not only gaining it, but maintaining it. The trick is actually stopping when you're ahead. The gaining and maintaining of momentum is different for everyone. Your set limits and tolerance for distractions will be different than another's. But once you find a balance between energy level, desire, motivation, and momentum, you'll find yourself getting things done a lot faster and better.