by Carthage Buckley, Stress and Performance Coach
We all have a lot of work to do each day. We seem to be living in a world of never ending busyness. Busyness in itself is not a good thing. There Is no point in being busy if you are only busy doing the wrong things. The key to productivity is to identify the important things you need to do and start making progress with them. In fact, busyness is often just a way in which you distract yourself, consciously or subconsciously, from your most important work. Busyness is most often a form of procrastination. Often, we choose busyness because we can’t bring ourselves to make a start on the big, important projects in our schedule.
If you find yourself distracted by busyness, it is better to take some time out to identify the actions you need to take in order to make build your momentum and start making progress on the important tasks/projects. Once you build your momentum, you will often find that you no longer care whether you are busy or not. You just want to keep making progress by continuously doing the right things.
7 Simple strategies to build your momentum
The following 7 strategies will come in useful when you are struggling, and you need to build your momentum so that you can get your most important work done.
1. Create a plan
Before you can make progress, you need to know what is involved. You need to break the entire project down into each of its constituent tasks. With bigger projects, there will be a lot of tasks involved so it is worth taking as much time as you need to capture all of the required tasks.
Don’t be afraid to ask people you respect to look through your list of tasks and point out anything you may have missed. After all, if you are to repeat the project or, work on a similar project in the future, this list of tasks will give you a great starting point.
Once you are confident that you have captured all the tasks, it is time to start creating a plan for getting it all done. Before you start assigning times and slots, make sure that you are aware of all the resources available to you, including people. You can then start to make a good plan for getting it all done.
2. Delegate, outsource automate
As I pointed out in the last point, big projects can have a lot of tasks which need to be completed. When you look at the full list, it can be overwhelming. You may feel anxious and it can kill your momentum before you even begin. To help you out here, you need to get as much off your plate as you can. Each task you get off your plate, reduces the sense of overwhelm and anxiety.
I mentioned the importance of being aware of all of the resources at your disposal. This is where they come in handy. Before you start taking everything on yourself, you need to determine the answers to the following questions:
- Which tasks can you delegate to somebody who will be able to do the job as quick and to as a high a standard?
- Which tasks can you outsource to somebody who will be able to do the job as quick and to as high a standard
- Which tasks can you automate?
- Are there any resources which you can purchase/hire to help you do the job quicker and/or better?
Answering these questions will often allow you to get a lot of tasks off your plate, reducing your workload, freeing up time and increasing your confidence in your ability to get the job done.
Most of us like to keep our word. We really value our integrity and we want our friends and colleagues to value our integrity too. It is possible to use this to build your momemtum. All you have to do is tell somebody whom you trust and respect that you are going to get the project done. If permissible, you can even give them a copy of the project plan so that they can hold you accountable.
And there is one quality that this person must have. They must be strong enough to call you out if you are not getting the job done or if you are trying to B.S. them. You don’t want them buying whatever petty excuses you come up with. They should use their own integrity to call you out when you are letting yourself down. Because in the end, it is your fear of letting them down that will prevent you from letting yourself down.
Note: While this is a good strategy to use every now and then, if you need to use it the whole time, then you have more serious issues with your momentum and motivation which need to be tackled.
4. Seek help when stuck
Your Ego can be the biggest culprit which blocks you when you try to build your momentum. No matter what you are trying to achieve, you will face problems and obstacles along the way. If you are too proud and independent to ask for help, you might well face that problem for a lot longer than necessary.
It is not your job to solve every problem you face, but you do need to get every problem solved. That may just sound like semantics but I assure you that it is not. Just as you don’t have to be the one who completes every task; you don’t have to be the one who solves every problem.
By all means, develop some resilience by initially trying to solve each problem yourself but realise when you are getting nowhere, Put your Ego to one side and reach our for help. You can then get the problem solved quickly and build your momentum again.
5. Sit in the chair
I first received this advice with regards to meditation. Many people want to meditate but they struggle to make the time in their day for this valuable practice. The advice is quite simple. Don’t try to get yourself to meditate. Don’t focus on the meditation initially. Instead, just go sit in the chair that you mediated in. That is the first action you take when you meditate and taking that first step allows you to build your momentum. Once you are sitting in the chair, it is much easier to then begin your mediation.
This tip doesn’t just work for meditation. For example, I use it with the gym. I pack my bag the night before and once the alarm goes, I jump out of bed; use the bathroom, get dressed and grab my bag. Within 10 minutes of the alarm going off, I am on my way to the gym. Then when I get to the gym, I know my first task is to warm up on the treadmill. It is only when I am on the treadmill that I start thinking about my full workout. By that stage, it is too late to consider procrastinating.
Whatever you are struggling to do; identify the first step you need to take and just focus on doing that rather than focusing on the whole activity. If needs be, focus on the second step and when you have that complete; think about the third step. You will build your momentum to a point where it is easier to keep moving forward than to turn back.
6. Eliminate the unimportant
If the task you are putting off is really important then you must find time for it in your day. If there isn’t time then one of two things are true:
- It isn’t as important as you thought, or
- You are giving time to something which is less important
From my coaching experience, it is usually the latter which is true. There are usually unimportant activities in your day which you can easily remove to make more time for the important task. Quite often, eliminating the unimportant is enough to build your momentum and give you the kick start you need to take action on your important projects.
7. Do the easy parts
If you are a regular reader, you may think that I am contradicting myself here as I always say that you should never prioritise based on how easy something is to do. But that is not what I am encouraging you to do here. When you prioritise, you prioritise based on the overall project i.e. you want to make progress on the project.
If you are struggling to build your momentum, beginning with the easier tasks in a project can be a very sensible thing to do. You are still making progress on your most important project and as such, you are completing important work. Once you have built your momentum, you can then get stuck into the most challenging parts of the project.
Note: It is imperative that the easy parts are tasks which actually need to be done. Otherwise, you are wasting your time.
There are all manner of experts who will let you believe that they are always full of energy and never procrastinate. They are talking from where they sit. It is perfectly normal to lack a little energy and enthusiasm from time to time. There is no need to panic. A bit like your car on a cold Winter’s morning, you may just need a little kickstart. Your objective is to build your momentum and kick yourself into gear. Once you have done that, you will start to make steady progress on your tasks and projects. You may not get as much done as on a high energy day, but you will make far more progress than you would by getting upset with yourself. So, next time you find yourself short on energy, just build your momentum, however long it takes; and make the best use of your time that you can manage. There will be better days too.
About the author
Carthage Buckley is a Stress and Performance Coach who helps entrepreneurs, management and driven professionals to identify and eliminate the sources of stress while developing and implementing strategies to realise their objectives and create a happy, healthy and successful life.
The principle philosophy of Carthage’s coaching is that the individual can shape their own world, rather than waiting for their world to shape them. Working from the inside out, it is perfectly possible for each person to create their own life, allowing them to fulfil their personal desires while living in harmony with the world around them.
Carthage has lived and worked in 5 countries and continues to work with clients all around the world, both in person and via the Internet.