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Or: the goal is to be a monkey swinging through the trees
I’m sick in bed today, so this one is short and involuntarily ironic.
When thinking about working and getting things done, I often come back to the idea of momentun.
Here’s how I think about it: when you’re being productive, checking off your TODOs one after the other, continuing or doing more seems easy. You’ve built up momentum and use it to propel you forward. A monkey swinging through the trees. Contrast that with not having started at all and everything you have to do feeling like too much, too much to even start.
Momentum is the difference between “Hey, I made 5 phone calls I’ve been putting off for weeks just now; sure, I’ll call the doctor too now and make an appointment for next week” and “I’ve been scrolling on my phone for 2 hrs; I’ll take the trash out later.”
Nothing revelatory in these lines, I’m sure. Yet it still feels to me as if the idea of momentum is underrated. Or more specifically: I don’t see a lot of folks consciously making use of it. Momentum isn’t just something that sometimes happens to you – you can create and use it.
Instead of slogging through that pull request that’s too big and that feels like it’ll never get merged, try splitting it up. Again, nothing new here – everybody knows small PRs are better. But have you ever tried shipping small changes just to build up momentum? I often do that when sitting down to work on a small project. Instead of wondering what I should do or not daring to attack that big thing I’ve been pushing in front of me, I’ll start by cleaning up the README, or the
todos.md file, or adding another test. After three commits, three more seem much more achievable.
There’s two ideas here: organizing work in such a way that allows me to keep momentum (small changes and small tasks that build up to a bigger thing but give me the satisfaction of checking-off todo items) and consciously building up momentum by not starting with the insurmountable-looking task but instead with things you know will give you momentum.
With that, back to bed.
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