Monday, March 18, 2013

The Law of Inertia, or how productivity begets productiveness

[CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 | Flickr user askal.bosch]

Back in my freelancing days, productivity was like a good hair day: sometimes it just came naturally, while other days it seemed like nothing I could do would move a task toward completion. An odd phenomenon did arise, though. On days I was productive, I was really productive. On days I wasn't, I really really wasn't.

According to Dictionary.com, inertia is defined as the following:
The property of matter by which it retains its state of rest or its velocity along a straight line so long as it is not acted upon by an external force.
In this case, "matter" = me and "straight line" = productivity.

Why is it so easy to keep moving once you're already grinding away?

Your mind is already moving
Whether it's coffee, exercise or some other type of morning routine, it usually takes a person a little time to get their brain moving in the morning or after lunch. This makes processing information and making good decisions a little slower. But when you're already warmed up, you carry the good mojo on to the next task, making

You get productivity high
How good does it feel to cross items off your list? How about the very last item, the one you've been putting off for so long? So. freakin. good. We crave that good feeling, and it keeps us moving. If you're being physically active while completing your list or laughing it up, it could even be a chemically induced feeling (endorphins...natural chemical, of course).

The operative state, then, would be how you begin your work day (or working session). I find that jumping right in to work, rather than lingering over reading informative (not action-oriented) emails, sets me up for a more productive day. As a freelancer, even taking the time to get dressed in the morning could throw off my rhythm (the best routine I found: jump out of bed, pop in the contacts, brush my teeth, make my coffee and get straight to the computer).

Do you find that the laws of inertia apply to your work habits? What do you do to get off to a good start?