Does it seem like getting anything done today is like undertaking a great effort in doing it? With everything going on in the world at any given moment, we are getting distracted by the moment with other things happening around us. Whether it be videos, music, advertisements, co-workers, Twitter, emails, etc., we are constantly bombarded with stimuli that makes it difficult for us to even get going. Momentum can be just the solution to this problem so many people experience.

It appears that more and more, we are being barraged with a deluge of information not just every day, but every hour, minute, and even second. Our information age has allowed our minds to become quickly saturated with content, only for us to be absorbed in so many activities at once that we seemingly make no progress in actions we need to perform. Take, for example, the “Youtube hole.” While possibly not a common term, I’m sure you know what it means, especially those of the younger generations and millennials. The Youtube hole is something I refer to when you begin watching Youtube videos only to find yourself watching video after video after video, unable to break away from the computer and get back to an original task you were engaged in previously. It appears that people fall into this trap and seemingly wake up some time later and say, “How did I get here,” or, “Why am I watching this video 2 hours after the first one I saw?” It is an interesting problem, and one that, I feel, is only going to get worse as more and more content is put online and more entertainment services publish their material online as well. Even look at something like Netflix and see how people binge watch their favorite show. An observation that I have made, from my own experiences as well as reading what others have experienced as well, is that it seems that “Momentum” is playing a large part in how long and how involved we are in actions we are performing.

Momentum, I believe, is one of those factors that you will hear some people mention in how important it is when you want to complete a task or project or complete some other goal that you are looking to do. However, in not stating how useful it can be more frequently, I think it is a point that many disregard or do not consider. It’s funny in that you don’t really consider momentum until you have it, and then by that point, you feel like you are in danger of losing it, since you recognized it. For example, you often hear in sports broadcasts that a team will have the momentum in a game and that the other team must wrestle it away or get swept up by the action and stand no chance of coming back and winning. There are multiple instances of teams being “hot” before or during a playoff series and carrying that momentum through to the Championship. Further, it appears that people often focus on steps surrounding an action rather than the action itself. An example here would be clearing off your desk before you study, rather than the act of studying itself. Sometimes, the quickest solution to our problems is to just dive headlong into them and begin working through them. Don’t spend an hour or even half an hour of cleaning or organizing needless things before studying, for example. Momentum begins with that first step, so open the book and jump in.

I, personally, have found momentum to be a very helpful factor while working and trying to complete projects or assignments before moving onto something else. Another example would be simply writing this posting. I cannot tell you how many times I will open a program, an email, or an html document to edit and move to something else after opening. It is as if opening the document or work was an accomplishment, and I want to move on to something else to start, but never finish. Needless to say, this can be somewhat frustrating when, at the end of the day, you realize you still have yet to complete the assignments from earlier, all the while taking on new assignments or tasks with no chance of finishing those either. It can be quite the conundrum. To help with gaining momentum and (even better) maintaining it through tasks, I will write down several points that I have found to be helpful in starting and, now, finishing the work I set out to do.

The biggest problem I face, and I think many people do who work on computers, is the sheer amount of distraction we can face by simply being online. It is funny to think that a quick typing of your favorite website, Youtube, Reddit, and many others, can lead you down a path of distraction, and especially when dealing with subjects or things that you like, you gain momentum is a negative way leading you away from what you set out to do. What I have found to be helpful are two points:
  1. When you begin your day or when you get home from school, it is important that you start doing the work you do need to do instead of taking a break or navigating away from your goals. Taking a short break is fine, but you cannot find yourself spending more than several minutes away from your task. The more you are away from something, the more likelihood you will stay away.
  2. If you do find yourself being distracted or coming out of a Youtube hole, break away from that activity immediately and distance yourself with another activity. Maybe do something athletic like jumping jacks, push-ups, stretching, etc. to work out some energy. You can take a walk outside, or speak with someone around you like a family member or a colleague. The point is to break up the distracting action so as to “reset” yourself so you’re ready to tackle the actual work.

Once you are under way with a task, it can be increasingly difficult to stay with that certain task, as well. A point that I have found helpful is to have only one window or program open, if I can help it, at a time on the computer. If I cannot have just one, I minimize everything else and just have that one program on the desktop. My thinking is that with the other windows out of sight, then, hopefully, they will be out of mind as well.

The interesting thing is that I don’t find that it takes all that long to gain momentum if you are able to stay with a certain activity for, at least, a short amount of time. Once you gain it, I believe it’s just a matter of going with the moment and continuing with the action. If you begin to get worried about being distracted or moving onto something else, then you have already done so and you are losing momentum. It is at this point that you need to gain it back and continue that action. Otherwise, you may end up stopping yourself and needing to start all over again to reach the point you were at.

I’d like to conclude this post by saying that if you are truly having difficulty and feel that you are unable to progress forward, do not beat yourself up about it. Do not allow negative self-talk to be part of your thoughts. We all know about the critic that is ourselves, and how we can be our harshest critic, but to continue with that kind of talk and still have work or studying to do does not put your mind in the place it needs to be in order to perform well. If you have anything to say at all, make sure it is positive to yourself and encouraging in a way to make you want to continue or get back to trying. Otherwise, keep yourself set to a task and continue with that task for some time and gain the momentum to bring it to completion.

By Matt Buynak Jr. (5/11/2016)


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