Sometimes we start the day with the best of intentions but then get discouraged with our progress by mid-day. Discouragement leads to a slower pace and can be a never-ending cycle of not accomplishing as much as we’d like. We found a little secret for how to build momentum in your daily productivity, so that you can look back and be proud of your progress.
Why it’s a good idea to start with your most important task
You’ve probably heard that when you have a list of to-dos, it’s a good idea to start with the most important task, or the task that absolutely must be done. This is a great way to ensure that you accomplish your top priority. Who wants to finish the day and regret not completing what was most important? When you break down your daily tasks, we definitely agree that it’s helpful to prioritize what should be done and what must be done.
The problem with starting with the most important task
The problem with this strategy is that sometimes the most important task is also the longest and hardest task. You may be determined to make it your top priority. However, when it’s 3pm and you’ve been working hard all day without having checked anything off your list, it can be frustrating. It’s discouraging to not be able to see your progress. It’s hard to feel a sense of accomplishment if you haven’t actually been able to complete a full task. We found a strategy for how to build momentum in your daily productivity so that you can stay motivated even in the longest, hardest tasks.
How to gain momentum in the hardest tasks
The problem with starting with a time-consuming task – no matter how important it is – is that the goal is simply too big. In order to gain traction and feelings of accomplishment, you need to break down the task and set smaller goals. These goals will allow you to feel immediate gratification and propel you forward with a desire to keep achieving these small milestones. Pretty soon, the small milestones will add up to big achievements!
Enter Anthony Trollope
Anthony Trollope was a very successful Victorian-era author who accomplished impressive amounts of writing in a surprisingly low amount of hours. In 35 years, Trollope wrote 47 novels, as well as many short stories, nonfiction works, and plays. He did this writing while working as a post office inspector by day. His job kept him very busy and required him to travel often.
Trollope balanced his time by writing for three hours every morning before going to his job at the post office. He paid his servant extra to wake him up with a cup of coffee every morning to begin his writing.
How did Trollope accomplish so much?
How did he do it? What was his secret for accomplishing such large goals as novels—and so many? How did he stay motivated when each goal (an entire novel!) was so immense?
Instead of staring at the page for three hours each day, contemplating what to write, Trollope broke his time down into 15-minute chunks. He set his stopwatch in front of him and required himself to produce 250 words every 15 minutes. Trollope did not multitask, he simply focused on his stopwatch and his writing.
Instead of being held prisoner by writer’s block or by the vastness of his entire goal, Trollope simply focused on these small, 15-minute goals. In this way, he was able to produce an incredible amount!
“A small daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the labours of a spasmodic Hercules.”
― Anthony Trollope
How can you implement Trollope’s strategy?
We have lots to learn from Trollope’s method of breaking his sizeable goals into bite-size segments. If you have a large task at hand, try breaking it into sections. You don’t have to do them back-to-back, even. Try requiring yourself to have laser-focus on your work for twenty minutes. Then, take a quick break–send the dog outside, wash a few dishes—and get back to it for another twenty minutes. Set yourself a goal for only that short section of time. The feeling of accomplishment will snowball and help you gain momentum to be even more productive.
While Trollope didn’t have social media to distract him, he surely had other distractions. Human beings weren’t meant to multitask. Yet, when we sit down to work, we often find our brains going in a million directions.
Setting yourself bite-size goals in shorter amounts of time will make it easier to focus on only the task at hand. When you know you have to accomplish a certain amount in fifteen or twenty minutes, it will be much easier to resist the urge to check your Facebook real quick or glance at your email. Staying focused will allow you to squeeze out the maximum amount of productivity in the time that you have.
We hope this tip helps as you explore exactly how to build momentum in your daily productivity!
Is there a recurring task that just always seems to be a drag to accomplish in your week? What strategies have you found to keep yourself motivated?
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