Breaking Inertia

The law of inertia in physics states that an object at rest stays at rest and objects in motion stay in motion unless acted upon by an external force.

The same goes for the law of inertia in getting stuff done. It’s a lot easier to stay the course once you have momentum, but getting started takes a lot of “external force.”

Whether its exercise, writing a report, or getting an airplane off the ground, ​getting started is the hardest part​. You have to apply a lot of energy or force to move from rest into motion.

The good news is, all you have to do is get started and the law of inertia supports you to keep going. So, how do you get started when it’s the last thing you want to do?

Getting Started

We all have a part of us that is the bratty three-year-old that cries, “But, I don’t wanna!” And, despite all your best effort, it’s hard to compete with the will of a three-year-old.

But, all hope is not lost. There are many strategies that work for three-year-olds and they will work for you too. Here are a couple of favorites:

The Fireman Game: I actually saw this strategy on a nanny show. The mother was struggling to get her two young boys to pick-up their toys without complete melt-downs and tantrums. So, she made picking-up part of play time.

The mom was equipped with a stopwatch and the boys put on fireman hats. And, voila! Clean-up was a new game for the boys. The boys were now firemen and only had five minutes to get all the toys picked up and put away, making them heroes of the day.

If you’re struggling to get a task done, pretend you’re on a serious deadline or game show. You have 30 minutes to get as much done as possible. (Cue Mission Impossible music!) Get into the spirit of the game and go!

Just 10 Minutes: This is the game where you tell yourself you only have to do the task for 10 minutes. Start a kitchen timer counting UP, not down. The reason for this is, it’s all just a trick to get you to start. Once you do, you’ll likely go for a lot longer than 10 minutes, getting more done. Counting up prevents any alarms from going off, stopping your flow.

If you’re really struggling at the 10-minute marker, take a break, give yourself a little reward for doing it. And, then try another 10.

Your Inner Brat

This is all about knowing what works for your inner brat. Does she like bribes? If so, what kind? Does he respond to public accountability or the threat of losing privileges? Does she like games?

Your job as the self-aware adult is to figure out what works for you and do it. Don’t worry if it feels silly or stupid. After all, would you rather rest assured in not feeling silly or would you rather get the work done?

The goal isn’t to be the most sophisticated. The goal to get it done.