n 1687, Sir Isaac Newton published his groundbreaking book, The Principia: Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, which described his three laws of motion. In the process, Newton laid the foundation for classical mechanics and redefined the way the world looked at physics and science.
What most people don't know, however, is that Newton's three laws of motion can be used as an interesting analogy for increasing your productivity, simplifying your work, and improving your life.
Allow me to present this analogy as Newton's Laws of Productivity.
Newton's First Law of Productivity
First Law of Motion: An object either remains at rest or continues to move at a constant velocity, unless acted upon by an external force. (i.e. Objects in motion tend to stay in motion. Objects at rest tend to stay at rest.)
In many ways, procrastination is a fundamental law of the universe. It's Newton's first law applied to productivity. Objects at rest tend to stay at rest.
The good news? It works the other way too. Objects in motion tend to stay in motion. When it comes to being productive, this means one thing: the most important thing is to find a way to get started. Once you get started, it is much easier to stay in motion.
boost your productivity with the physics of productivity first law
So, what's the best way to get started when you are stuck procrastinating?
In my experience, the best rule of thumb for getting started is the 2-Minute Rule.
Here's the 2-Minute Rule adjusted for productivity: To overcome procrastination, find a way to start your task in less than two minutes.
Notice that you don't have to finish your task. In fact, you don't even have to work on the primary task. However, thanks to Newton's first law, you'll often find that once you start this little 2-minute task, it is much easier to keep moving.
Here are some examples…
Right now, you may not feel like going for a run. But if you put your running shoes on and fill up your water bottle that small start might be enough to get you out the door.
Right now, you might be staring at a blank screen and struggling to write your report. But if you write random sentences for just two minutes, then you may find that useful sentences start to roll off your fingers.
Right now, you might have a creative block and be struggling to draw something. But if you draw a random line on a sheet of paper and turn it into a dog, then you might get your creative juices flowing.
Motivation often comes after starting. Find a way to start small. Objects in motion tend to stay in motion.
Newton's Second Law of Productivity
Second Law of Motion: F=ma. The vector sum of the forces on an object is equal to the mass of that object multiplied by the acceleration vector of the object. (i.e. Force equals mass times acceleration.)
Let's break down this equation, F=ma, and how it can apply to productivity.
There is one important thing to note in this equation. The force, F, is a vector. Vectors involve both magnitude (how much work you are putting in) and direction (where that work is focused). In other words, if you want to get an object accelerating in a particular direction, then the size of the force you apply and the direction of that force will both make a difference.
Guess what? It's the same story for getting things done in your life.
If you want to be productive, it's not merely about how hard you work (magnitude), it's also about where that work is applied (direction). This is true of big life decisions and small daily decisions.
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