Almost all of us hit a point in the day where we lose momentum in our work. We may have a successful, busy morning only to come to a grinding halt after a meeting or lunch. We may get stuck in an “analysis paralysis” mindset while switching projects. There’s any number of reasons we feel we have lost our momentum. The question is, what do we do about it?
Change of venue
Get out of your chair. Take a walk. Look out the window. Do anything to change your surroundings for a few minutes. The change of scenery coupled with the change in blood flow is sometimes all that’s needed to get the mind working and the energy to return.
Keep “task candy” handy
“Task candy” in my vernacular are tasks that are quick, easy, low impact, and need to be done. They should take less than 5 minutes to complete and have an obvious result when finished. For example, “clean files off desk” is a good example of a piece of task candy. Keep a stack of these tasks on sticky notes or other scraps so you can take one, complete it, then wad it up and throw it in the trash. A task is done, the sense of completion is present, and you now have momentum to move on to your next thing.
Caffeine or other stimulants
We often turn to our invaluable ally, the coffee cup, when the momentum is lagging. As with any external stimulant while there may be a short term lift there will always be a letdown (usually greater than the lift). I won’t be swearing off coffee anytime soon, but I have found switching to water after lunch rather than another cup of joe takes the edge off the post lunch doldrums.
Often our momentum can be lost when we don’t have a clear sense of direction for the next steps we need to take. Checklists can assist with this. Take time when you’re not feeling particularly creative or inspired and make a list of the steps you need to take on a current project. Now when you cross into the slow part of the day, you can glance at the list and let it do the heavy lifting to decide what should come next.
This requires a little explanation. When you hit a loss of energy take a few minutes to journal the work you have done so far. Since you are just documenting what has already occurred, it doesn’t require any creative thinking. The process of journaling can often draw out things that were missed or actions that need to be taken, all of which can instill new life in the efforts you need to expend for the day.
Momentum isn’t about moving forward at full speed all the time. Momentum is about keeping just enough forward motion to get you through the valleys and over the hills without working harder than you need to.