12 Simple Ways to Create Momentum in Your Day

create-momentum

“I challenge you to make your life the masterpiece you want to paint, the novel you want to read, the day you want to wake to.” ―Toni Sorenson

Eat your frog” is a popular life tip for conquering procrastination and accomplishing more. It is based on the best-selling book, Eat That Frog: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time which is founded on a Mark Twain quote that goes like this, “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

The idea behind the tip is relatively simple: Do your least-favorite, most-important task first thing in the morning. You can spend the rest of your day knowing you’ve accomplished something difficult. And easily find the energy and motivation to accomplish more-enjoyable tasks.

I understand the premise of the productivity tip, I really do. I know a large number of crazy successful people who swear by it. And sometimes, it is the perfect way to start your day.

But other times, it is more important and effective to simply build some momentum into your day first. If you are familiar with athletics in any capacity, you already know the importance of momentum. You understand how one little success can change the demeanor of an entire team—one turnover, one blocked shot, one forehand winner down the line. Momentum begins to grow, confidence builds, and the impossible becomes achievable.

In a similar fashion, a good friend of mine makes her bed every single morning. It helps her room and house look cleaner. But more importantly, she says it sets the stage for the rest of her day. One small accomplishment within seconds of waking up. One task completed. Even though small, the brain registers the completed task as a success—and puts momentum for the day on her side.

Little victories lead to big victories. Small accomplishments lead to larger ones. Momentum builds. We begin to feel productive. And the impossible becomes achievable.

Of course, we know that not everyone who makes their bed in the morning has an entirely productive day. Often times, momentum begins to wane as setbacks occur and realities of the day set in. But when they do, our most productive step is to look again for a small victory. Compete one small task in its entirety and rebuild momentum. This principle holds true in almost every pursuit—academics, business, homemaking, and parenting, just to name a few.

How then, might we go about creating this momentum in our lives? What are some opportunities available to us each day?

12 Simple Opportunities to Create Momentum in Your Day

1. Make your bed. Gretchen Rubin, author of the Happiness Project, writes that when asking people what happiness-project resolution has made a big difference in their happiness, many people cite the modest “Make your bed.” It is quick and easy. Available every morning. And makes a big difference.

2. Cook your breakfast. There is something very satisfying about giving yourself enough time in the morning to cook your breakfast. And while Paul DeJoe believes in taking the time to craft the World’s Greatest Omelet, sometimes just allowing enough time to cook scrambled eggs, toast, and juice is enough to get the momentum in your corner.

3. Take a shower. Whether you work at home or the office, starting your day with a fresh slate both mentally and physically can be very helpful. I have been working from home for the last 4 months and have found one of the most important keys to productivity is simply taking a shower, getting dressed, and putting on shoes before I get started.

4.  Eat a healthy lunch. Lunches can be pretty hit-or-miss sometimes. We make a sandwich, grab leftovers from the fridge, or make a quick trip through the drive-thru. Often times, our choices set us back for the entire afternoon. Become intentional about eating a healthy lunch. Your body will be energized for the rest of the workday. And your mind will take pride in the healthy accomplishment.

5. Hit the gym. Go for a run/walk. Recently, running has become one of my favorite afternoon momentum builders. But when I had less flexibility in my workday, spending 45 minutes at the local gym before arriving at the office had significant influence on my day. I used a number of different workout routines over the years, but when I wanted something effective, short, and full-body, I used the Geek-to-Freak workout routine championed by Tim Ferriss.

6. Create a to-do list. I always work better with a to-do list in front of me. It focuses my attention and motivation. And sometimes, just taking the time to write one down can be a helpful step in the right direction.

7. Complete an enjoyable, challenging activity. We all have things we enjoy doing more than others. When you sense your productivity beginning to fade, choose something productive that you’ll enjoy completing. Make it challenging and productive and you’ll begin to feel a change in your attitude towards the less-enjoyable tasks.

8. Take 5 minutes to clean up one small area in your environment. Whether at home or the office, taking a small break from your current project to clean out an area can help clear your workspace and your mind. Remove distractions by clearing off your desk or bookcase. Clean your surfaces or quickly sort out a drawer. The feeling is great. And with the clutter removed, you will be a more efficient worker on the other side.

9. Write 750 words. Whatever your skill set, the process of sitting down to write words can be beneficial. It stimulates your brain and helps to clarify your thoughts. As Dawson Trotman once said, “Thoughts disentangle themselves when they pass through the lips and fingertips.” The words don’t even need to be shared. Just commit to writing 750 words (or you could try 500) about anything on your heart. You’ll find it therapeutic. And probably far more momentum-building than you ever thought.

10. Wash the dishes after dinner. The intentional habit of washing the dishes and cleaning the kitchen after meals is an important one for me. It is the final step in our family meal. It is an important accomplishment. And when the kitchen is clean, evenings feel freer and more alive.

11. Reset your home before going to bed. Find a simple, 10-minute evening routine that works for you and your family. You will end your day on a note of accomplishment and start your morning with a clean slate. Even at the end of the day, you can build momentum for the next. And your mind will be less cluttered at the office tomorrow if your living area is less cluttered at home.

12. Make out with your spouse. Seriously. He’ll be happy. She’ll be happy. And ideally, both of you will feel fulfilled afterwards. Whether this is accomplished in the morning, afternoon, or evening, everyone feels better about themselves and more prepared for the far less-exciting responsibilities that lie ahead.

Your most important work needs to be completed. But sometimes, the most productive thing you can do is set yourself up for success in a small way. And allow momentum to carry you forward.

Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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Comments

  1. says

    Joshua,

    I’m so glad I don’t have to eat a frog! I love the idea of interspersing the day with these simple ways to gain momentum. It always feels better to make the bed. Sneaking in the exercise is harder for me, but I did it today and it was fabulous. I haven’t been making out yet, but I did say, “I love you.”

  2. says

    Procrastination has been a big problem for me my whole life. Even right now, I’m posting a reply to this blog just to avoid doing some other boring chores!

    Great article!

  3. says

    Only just found your blog and liked this article, I agree do your least favourite task first and also tell those nearest and dearest to you ‘I love you’ three words that mean so much……..

    All the best Jan

  4. brenda says

    I can not believe this. I must be a Minimalist. This is how I live, this is what I do. One other thing I must add is I have down sized. I live in a very comfortable tiny house with all my basic needs, no extra junk in my trunk, and I am dept free. What a wonderful feeling it is to have this freedom and to enjoy things in life that is not stuff. I thank GOD and am great full for each day. Kinda cool to know there are others like me.

  5. Anthony says

    I have to say, the last one made me laugh a lot. I mean, I completely agree, I just didn’t expect it on the list! Of course, I fully support it!

  6. Eva says

    I read this yesterday and was challenged by your number 9: Write 750 words. I checked your links and was hit (I felt it in my body) by the fact that “You don’t control the outcome, just the process.” as Jeff Goins wrote. (in 500 words link).

    I immediately opened my not very often used diary and read what I wrote the last time about six months ago, by the way the only day in 2013… To my surprise I mention there two persons that have been in my life for about 15 years and how they try to convince me the need to write, that it is part of my calling in life and so on! I did’nt remember this until I read it yesterday. Very odd to read it when you just the minute before was challanged on this blog to start writing. So…

    Today I wrote 770 words in 20 minutes. They came like a flood from inside. Couldn’t imagine I had so many words in such a short time. Now I don’t consider them really mine actually. I have no control over the outcome, I just have to respond to the decision to write every single day. I’m glad I can use my own language since writiing in English takes a lot of time and energy. ;)

  7. says

    I love this post because it is exactly what a lot of us writers that work from home need. Procrastination is so easy when you have nothing hanging over your head. Without the threat of deadlines or bosses, you can easily slack for days and days without doing anything useful. The guilt keeps on growing as well when you are not doing anything productive, until the point where you kind of go into a panic where you can’t get anything done because you are so scared and emotional. At that point, having my partner Thenix calm me down and encourage me to get down to work doing the ugliest project in my mind really helps.

  8. everlearning says

    Great post! I do all of these things and have for years (sure, every once in a while something gets skipped). But for me, this way of life is one of the keys to a successful day! Some things are routine: making the bed, clean-up at night, writing, exercising, etc., but I have to say one of the most important things I do is prepare a to-do list for the following day sometime in the afternoon/evening of each day. Then I put numbers next to each item and #1 goes to the thing I least want to do and each following number goes to the next least-liked thing. Usually by mid-morning my day is sailing and I feel so free. Most of the rest of my day proceeds peacefully, slowly (with intentionality), and without any agitation or stress, and I am free both in reality and in spirit to do the things of my heart’s desire.

    • everlearning says

      Forgot to add that when I first started this numbering process years ago, it was hard. Now that I know the value of getting those first few hard things done and how good I feel as the day progresses, it’s almost as though that #1 thing becomes my momentum starter, and odd as it may sound, I look forward to “conquering” that first thing or those first few things! I should also add that all this is easier for me because by the time I start my to-do list, I have spent an hour or more in meditation and prayer (and that’s usually where my writing comes in), showered (unless I’m going to run in the morning), and have eaten a good breakfast with my family. It all makes for a pleasant day and again, I am thankful to Joshua for sharing these great ideas!

  9. denise says

    great post. i can or do all but the exercise so i will go for a walk today. i write more than 1000 words for my job everyday but i will do the 700 for pure pleasure. thank you for the insight, i feel lighter already!

  10. says

    Hi Joshua,

    I love that you highlight the idea of ‘momentum’ rather than the idea of getting the least appealing task done first. I have a few small and regular actions that help me to keep focused and moving through my day. The morning shower, stopping and making myself some food, or a cup of tea. Sometimes I’ll stop what I’m doing and just walk outside for a few minutes of fresh air.

    All of these things feel nourishing to me and so I try to make them a regular part of my day. And I think the real power lies in having a string of activities that runs through your day, what they are doesn’t matter so much as the fact that they feel nourishing and energizing to you, having a few points in the day where you come back to activities that help fuel you helps to keep that sense of momentum alive.

    Momentum feeds momentum, when I am on a roll and also looking after myself, the tasks that seem least appealing to me have less power to throw me off center.

  11. Rose Cole says

    Having a routine of keeping your life and stuff streamlined and it order makes all the difference in the world. I do most of these things everyday and prep for the next day as well and I can tell you it can make or break your day depending on whether you stick to it and stay disciplined or you get a little lazy and start letting things go!
    As always, thank you Joshua for helping me stay on track!

  12. says

    I am a firm believer in #11, Reset your home. I cannot live without doing it. Sadly, as part of my reset, I lay my clothes out for the next day. It’s sad because I do it on my day off. I can’t help myself. I’ve been doing it for over 40 years. My friends mock me but ha ha, the jokes on them, I have lots of free time to write, read, ride my bike, nap!

  13. says

    I really identify with making your bed part. It makes a room look sooo much better and gives you your first “win” for the day. Plus, I just LOVE Gretchen Rubin!

    Also, love, love Brian Tracy’s “Eat That Frog” book, one of the few paper books I didn’t get rid of when I minimized my paper book collection. (I like everything on the Kindle now!!)

  14. says

    I so agree with the bed making. But that’s mainly because I absolutely cannot bear to see an unmade bed. I am a bit of a neat freak but an unmade bed really pushes my buttons (I’ll not be bidding for that Tracey Emin installation!) But it is part of getting up and “going to work” even if you are only going into the room next door. I always get properly dressed, usually laying out my clothes the night before, I brush my hair and put on some lipstick and perfume. If I don’t then I know I won’t be in the right mindset and the day will just meander by leaving me behind.

  15. says

    What great ideas! I focus on doing one task (out of my usual routine) daily. The earlier I can do it the better as my momentum definitely minimizes as the day goes on. Thanks for a great post!

  16. says

    I’m bookmarking this post. I might even print it and put it in my diary!

    My day goes so much better when I get upp, do something that needs to be done and feel good about my own productivity before breakfast, and yet there are STILL days that it seems like a better idea to stay in jammies, leave last nights dishes (thus not haing a blank slate next day) and all that kind of thing.

    Thanks!

  17. says

    Great article Joshua!

    I agree that sometimes getting some momentum going first thing in the morning is better than eating the frog, but not always. I really think it depends on how your day is going to look. Some days are better with a frog in the morning, some are better with momentum. What works best for me is to switch between the two and maximize both performance and happiness.

Sites That Link to this Post

  1. Your Life as Art | In A Tickle | January 14, 2014
  2. Weekend Links | January 18, 2014
  3. Our Bedroom // MISTER MISSUS | January 22, 2014
  4. Creating Momentum | January 27, 2014

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