“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.