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5 Tips to Create Momentum When You Feel Stuck

change comfort zone podcast productivity Mar 13, 2022

Practical things you can do right now to generate the energy you need to tackle your to-do list.



One of my happy places is a nice, warm shower. I enjoy it so much that I hate to ever step out, can you relate? But since I can't live my life from there...or the couch, or my cozy bed...I've had to master the art of creating momentum.


In this episode I give you a very simple physics lesson, not to confuse you but to help you realize that the reasons you're feeling stuck are literally science! Our goal is to create the tiniest bit of momentum that will truly carry us through our tasks and days in ways that fulfill us and don't deplete us.


But what if you already know this about momentum, and you likely do, but still find yourself stuck at certain points of your day and your life? I have five very straightforward tips to create just enough energy in the moments you need it most.


Rest assured you do not need to use every one, every time. Take only what you need from these tips, and see how they really apply to me from cleaning, to work emails, to exercise and, of course, showering, as well as a Progressor call-in that we can all relate to.



About a few other things...


Reclaim your creative power and rediscover who you actually are! If you’re ready to come back home to yourself, to be able to say that you know who you are and what matters to you, take my foundation course, “Finding Me.” It’s OK that you’ve lost parts of yourself along the way; but as you learn to anchor back into who you are and align your life to what matters to you, you’ll find that you have more strength, more fulfilment, and more creativity to bring to your important roles and responsibilities.


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Do you find yourself feeling stuck when you have things to do, but maybe you're in your nice warm bed, or on your comfy couch, or in a nice steamy shower. If that's you, that's me too. Today, you're going to hear my biggest tips on how to go from zero to hero of your own to-dos.


Confession for you: I have been a snooze hitter my entire life. Looking back, I just want to say, God bless you to the roommates I had all through college when I had the loudest alarm clock of all time and I hit that snooze like it was my job. I'm really sorry. Night owl tendencies aside, my friends, it is really hard to get going when you just feel stuck.


When you're not in motion, when you feel like maybe you're comfy doing what you're already doing, maybe it's just easier to stay comfy or you feel a little aimless or lost, so you find yourself doing numbing behavior instead, or procrastinating. Oh, the list goes on, right? It's easy to stay stuck when we need to get going.


So today, what I want to do is teach you some easy and practical ways to make things happen, to get going when you are really not wanting to do it. When you're wanting to do anything but. But first let's do a quick lesson on this. Do you want to know why it seems to take a Herculean effort to get going when you are comfy, when you are lost, when you are feeling a little paralyzed? That is because it kind of does take a Herculean effort to get going.


Going from zero speed to really any speed requires energy. It takes energy to create energy. If that makes sense. So there's nothing wrong with you. There's nothing wrong with you inherently. You are not especially lazy. You're not especially broken or unreliable or unproductive. I mean, the list goes on. Stop blaming yourself. It is just physics.


It takes energy to create more energy. So it takes a lot of energy to go from zero speed to any kind of speed. So, I mean, I like to think about this when I'm imagining those bullet trains and my goodness, they are going so, so, so fast, but to make that kind of machine go so fast, even before it starts, even before it goes from zero speed to however fast it goes, like probably hundreds of miles an hour, the amount of energy that is going into those engines like what's firing up, what's revving up before it even starts, is a lot of energy.


So again, it makes sense why it's so hard to not hit the snooze. It's so hard to get out of that warm shower. It's so hard to get off the couch. It's so hard to switch tasks when you need to. And that is because of the energy discrepancy.


So we talked about how that's kind of like a physics thing. Right? But, but let's talk about what do you do with this then, like, let's say, well, that's nice to know Monica. It's not just my fault, but what do I do when I actually do need to get the ball rolling? I do need to get things done.


 Instead of waiting for you to feel like it, instead of waiting for more energy or motivation, this is what you do.


You focus on creating momentum. That ball that needs to get rolling, all it needs is a tiny little push. And when that happens, we have another physics law. The first law of motion, an object in motion stays in motion. Once you get that little push on the ball, that tiny push, the momentum will go.


Momentum creates more energy, and more and more energy. So you might get that momentum going and be able to get a lot more done than you thought in the moment or a lot more done later on in the day. I did a whole episode on how to create momentum instead of waiting for motivation in the fall of 2021.


It's one o, my favorite episodes I've ever done, like a solo episode. So I highly recommend you go back and do that. But what I want to do today is give you some practical tips. On actually how to, just do that little tiny push on the ball, how to just start to create that momentum. Practical ways you can create the momentum when you'd rather just stay stuck.


So I have a couple for you. I'm going to give there's about five. And with those, I have examples underneath each one of them. And I'm going to go a little bit more rapid-fire but also try to blend in some practical examples of how this plays out for me, how it could play out for you.


I'm going to try to also mingle in examples of home life, like home responsibilities with cleaning, home management, anything else that we have to do with managing the home. Maybe some personal development things like going for a walk or reading a book or whatever it might be that way, as well as work items, because we have such a variety of incredible listeners here that I want to make sure that you don't feel like I'm just talking to the stay-at-home mom or that I'm just talking to someone who works outside of the home.


Okay. So here they are, my friends, the biggest tips to create momentum when you'd rather stay stuck.


The first is to do something to start. This comes from the episode that I recommended, again, instead of waiting on motivation, you create momentum. My number one way to do that is to do something to start. The reason I'm saying do something is because oftentimes why we stay sitting on that couch or in the warm bed or the shower, or it's hard to switch tasks, is because we are thinking of the whole enchilada that we need to do.


So of course we're not going to get started because we're thinking of all. So this is where you kind of hijack your brain a little bit. You kind of step in and you say, no, we're just going to do something. We're just going to do something and we're going to do something to start.


So when you were imagining what you need to do next, how I would do that is just break it down to what is the very first step that goes with that whole thing that I want to do. So let's imagine you need to clean the kitchen. Instead of thinking of all the multi-steps that go into it, sweeping the floor, clearing the counter, washing the counter, washing the dishes, washing the sink.


Boy, I know it goes even more than that. Start with the first step. What if that was to just clear the table? And that's all you'd say to yourself, I'm going to do something to start. I'm just going to clear the table. You can do this with a bigger work project too. Like maybe you have a big assignment to deal, instead of thinking about all, go back to that very, very first step.


And if that's all you do for that day, that's still a win, but I bet you, it will create momentum for you to go on from there. So that was my first tip is to do something to start. Think about what is the first step that you can get going with.


My second tip on how to get going is to focus on time. Now here's where I have a couple of quick methods for you, different ways that I focus on time. And with this, what I'm trying to say is I'm using some kind of time metric to get going. The first is blast off. This is something I learned from Mel Robbins years ago. I actually have not really read many of her books or listened to any of her things, but this somehow came to me through a friend.


And with blast off, what you do is you count down from either 10 or five and you go 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, and you say blast off. And that's when you get up or you move or you just take a first step, you start walking like you create momentum just by getting going. This is literally how I get out of the shower every single day.


I am a very cold person and being in a nice, warm shower is so hard for me to get out of. So every time I'm in the shower, I count down from 10. And when I say blast off, I turn off the water and I open the shower curtain and it somehow trains your brain. So it gets used to switching tasks or switching energy or getting going on other things, when you say blast off.


So after you apply it to one area, you're able to apply it to other areas. Like it helps me get out of the bed when I need to, or get off the couch. And I'm just feeling a little, like, I just want to sit there and drown and numbing behavior, like scrolling my phone. It helps me get going. The second method I have under focusing on time is the two minute or less rule.


This comes from the power of moms. And I first heard it from Merrick White, who was a moms meeting attender. I have never been one of those, but she shared about this idea years ago and she's one of my friends. So I, I love that idea that I've used it in so many other ways. And the rule from this is if it takes two minutes or less, just do it, just do it.


And this is when we are really setting realistic expectations of how long things take. Because sometimes, like, I don't want to do something, 'cause I think it's going to take so much time. And if I say, oh, if it really does take two minutes or less, just do it. And you'll be surprised how many tasks around the home or work that actually take two minutes or less, or maybe the first step is two minutes or less.


Going back to that tip number one. Right? So examples for me are like switching the laundry usually takes me two minutes or less. Maybe looking up a number of someone I need to call later, maybe emailing someone to set up a meeting for work. And sometimes I can dread these things foreve,r for months. And I finally do it and it takes me way less time.


So kind of you get this running track in your brain of what things actually take less time than you think and have that rule in mind too. If it takes two minutes or less, just do it. And the third method that I have for you under the focus on time tip is to lower the time overall. Now this is when you can honestly set a timer on how long you are willing to do something, whether that's brainstorming for a work project, reading a book, maybe 'cause you really want to read a book, but it just seems like it's going to take so much time. No, set a timer for five or 10 minutes. Set a timer on how long you're going to allow yourself to clean a certain area or do a task. One of the ways I've applied this is swimming. I have not swam in two years, by the way, since the pandemic started, but there's a whole history behind this.


I'll save you the long saga, but basically I hate swimming. Hate cold water, had to learn how to swim for exercise years ago. Again, another long story. And the only way I could get myself going to the pool and actually in the pool was, I lowered the time overall of what it took for me to swim. So typically like a workout, we think, oh, it needs to be a half an hour.


Nope. I lowered that time expectation. And I told myself all I had to do was be in the pool for 10 minutes. And just even standing in the pool was all it took. And I did that and I stayed at that level for a long time. That's still that standard still got me to the pool most days. And you know, by the end of my swimming career, before the pandemic started, I was usually swimming at least 30 minutes, but oftentimes up to an hour and still every time, this is what got me to the pool.


When I did not feel like it was telling myself, I only need to be in the pool for 10 minutes. Once the momentum is going, you can ride the momentum wave, which is really fun. So the second tip again, was to focus on time. I have three more tips for you as well as a call-in from one of our progressors, who's sharing about a scenario she is facing, but first let's hear a quick word from our sponsors.


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In my years of working on this podcast, one of my biggest concerns has been that women love to learn about personal development, but they find it really hard to live it out. We all know that habits matter for example, and we want to improve them so that we can be who we want to be. But most of the advice out there on habit formation seems only relevant to some superhuman class of women. Not those living real lives. Soon, I'm releasing a whole course on habit formation outside of perfectionism. Before it's fully available to the public, I am going to be doing a discounted presale that is invite only. I won't be sharing about it on my podcast or Instagram, but to get that invite, you can sign up for my, go getter newsletter


Let's do a quick recap. The first tip I have for you is to do something to start. And the second tip was to focus on time. The third tip I have for you is to make it enjoyable. You might've heard this two weeks ago in the episode I re aired when I did an interview with Rachel Nielsen from her show 3 in 30 takeaways for moms podcast, and we were talking all about procrastination.


I talked about how you can stop procrastinating when you make a blah task more enjoyable, so it feels good. And one, way we can do this is by pairing it. And that's, again, an example, I use in the procrastination episode where you pair a blah task with a yay reward. So examples on this for me is I take a task that I do not like to do, like folding the laundry or putting the laundry away.


That's my nemesis. I'm pretty sure you know this, or cleaning the kitchen or even work tasks that I just like dread doing. I pair it with something that I do like to do. So music is a big momentum creator for me. I listen to music or audio books while I'm doing some chores I don't like to do, that's one example.


Another way you can do this is let's say you need to have a meeting with somebody. Maybe you go on a walk while you have that meeting, or you suck on a sucker or a piece of chocolate while you are having that call. It really helps to pair things. So that was the first way you can make things enjoyable is by pairing the blah tasks with a yay reward.


The second part of that is to outright reward yourself. If you lower the hurdle by just giving yourself a lower time amount where you're like, I only have to do this for five minutes, I would still pair, add this tip with it. So this is where you give yourself a little reward after you've hit that smaller time limit, after you've even just done the first step.


So for me, after I make an outline for the podcast, which is something that I often can get in my own head about, I tell myself, I get to watch an Architectural Digest video on YouTube, where celebrities tour their homes. I don't know why I love that so much. So I reward myself. Maybe after you check in with your boss, what's a kind of reward you can do?


 Play your favorite song, give yourself a hand massage with lotion, call a friend? You get to decide. So that was the second method to making it enjoyable, is to reward it. The third method I have for you is to use a bead jar. This is something that one of my strive hive members introduced to our community years ago. And she just has a big jar where she just adds beads to it throughout the day when she is doing something that sh e struggles to do.


And this is where I would have like a list in mind. So, you know, like whenever I do this thing, I get to add a bead to the jar. And maybe it's a couple of different things. Like whenever I respond to an email, cause if you're like me, that's hard to keep track of, or a message. You can put a bead in the jar.


Maybe when I clean the dishes, I could put a bead in the jar, put away the laundry, whatever. Add beads to a jar. And even that will help you feel good. You might have a whole reward if you hit a certain level, but that alone will help create more momentum because it feels good to do that. And the last way you can make something enjoyable is to record yourself on the fast motion on your phone, like just set up your phone, put it in the speed up, like speeding it up.


And as you do that record yourself. And I know that sounds so dumb, but I do that with my kids. Sometimes, when we have a whole area that's really hard to clean, we put on the camera, we put it on fast motion. We record ourselves cleaning and afterward we watch it. And it's weirdly enjoyable to watch that.


And it helps them be more proactive about what they do. They're excited to see the progress they've made. And it's fun. So again, our third tip to get going is to make it enjoyable. The fourth tip I have for you is to make the task easier, make it easier. I like to think of this as lowering the hurdle.


And with that, that means you lower the expectations that you have. Basically you give yourself permission to do something really messy or to not do well. I have to do this every single time I'm preparing a lesson for the Sunday school that I teach at church. I'm teaching the adults and I am scared out of my mind every single time I teach them.


Like having a classroom of 20 adults is so much scarier than doing a podcast for however many of you who listen each week. So to get out of my own way, I make it easier by lowering the hurdle. I lower my expectations and I do a bunch of the other stuff we talked about. Like, I start, I do something to start by focusing on just an outline.


And with that, I even give myself a time limit. I only need to spend 20 minutes writing this lesson. And, but the biggest thing I do though to get that momentum going, is I tell myself, I can just take a, just make a totally crappy outline and I sit down and I say, this can be terrible. And once I get that terrible going almost every time, it turns into something that I can actually use pretty quickly.


And it's to me because I've created the momentum I needed to get going to create that full lesson. So make the task easier, lower the hurdle with your own expectations, by allowing yourself to create something terrible. The other way, we can make things easier is some of the other tips we just shared.


Like, start just doing the first step, limiting the amount of time you're willing to spend on something. One other way that I like to make things easier is by giving myself a limit on how much I'm supposed to do. So if I have a huge room that looks like a bomb went off. I say, I only need to pick up 10 items and I get going, or I tell my kids we're each picking up 10 items.


My parents used to do this growing up after like family home evening or something, we'd like each have to pick up 10 items around the house. So we lower that number. Maybe I only need to do one load of laundry, even though I have six to do, I only need to put away one basket of laundry. Maybe I only need to respond to five emails when I have like 30 to respond to.


Lower the number, lower the amount, give yourself a limit on the amount of things you need to do, or even the amount of. So those both go under the fourth tip, which is to make the task easier. And the final tip I have for you is to report in for duty. This is when you can get a little accountability, buddy, that you can quickly text things to.


Maybe you struggle with the same thing. Like maybe you're taking a writing class together, like I am supposed to be. And I get so overwhelmed by that because it just seems to take so much energy. But sometimes when I know that I have another friend doing something like that, that I can just send a quick text to and say, I'm starting the lesson right now. Or I'm giving myself 10 minutes to do part of this lesson. Or even after to just say I did this, that's a great way for me to get going.


Maybe you could have someone who's meeting you to go. Maybe you have someone to text each time you get up at the time that you are supposed to be going to bed or even better yet the time you're supposed to be going to bed, texting someone right before and saying, plugging in my phone, going to bed.


So get an accountability, buddy. And the second part of reporting him for duty, you can do like a call where you, you name something, you call it out. In the book Indistractible, Nir Eyal talks about train conductors in Japan who they point and they call out something when they're doing a task. This is what I do oftentimes to get me off the phone and off the couch, I say, I'm getting up now and I'd like, do it, or I'm going to go wash the dishes now.


And I, and it almost helps me go and do it. So call out what you're going to do, and that can help you get things done.


So, what we're going to do now is share a call-in from one of our progressors sharing, a scenario that she is facing when she is feeling stuck in that late afternoon slump, which I think we all can really relate to.


"Hey, Monica, it's Meg. I am so glad you asked this question about when I feel stuck because I feel really stuck right now. I have a problem with my schedule, sometimes I have, so I know I have a certain amount of time while my kids are at school to get things done. And if that time goes by too the first, like, let's say I have to pick somebody up at three o'clock. So I know I have to leave at 2:40. If I waste any time at the beginning of my time alone, then I feel like I can't make up that time. So I ended up just reading a book instead of doing my chores or, you know, whatever I need to get done. And so I sort of like, throw the baby out with the bath water and I don't get anything done in the time that I have, instead of realizing that those little small things that could get done in 15 minutes can still get done, even if I wasted time at the beginning, you know what I mean? Anyway, thanks for this episode in advance. I'm very excited to figure out how to get unstuck from my stuck places."


Thank you so much for calling in Meg. Totally, totally, totally relate to this. I know all of us do. So listen, I have a couple of tips for you that go beyond just the five tips I gave to everyone. Although I do recommend those. So of that list, I would recommend you just kind of pick out one or two, that sound good to you.


But this kind of is one of those tricky times of day that I want to give you a couple more ideas on, okay. The first is maybe me telling you it's okay to rest during that time, just from your description, I've listened to that voice memo a few times, it sounds to me that there's this narrow window of time in the late afternoon, where you find yourself doing other things outside of your to do's and you're frustrated by that.


What if the answer to this was really simple and it's that you are allowed to rest in the late afternoons. So, Greg McKeown talked about that in our episode last week, maybe you should go back and listen to that, but rest is a responsibility. So maybe that can be one of your responsibilities in the late afternoon, just an idea.


Some other things to help you troubleshoot this is to think about what are the obstacles getting in the way of you getting going, in the afternoon. Is it that you have this all or nothing obstacle where you think you have to do everything and you set yourself up to doing more of nothing instead? If that's the case, focus on that first tip I gave you, which is to do something to start.


And some of the other tips as well. Setting a time limit or a number limit might help you. Maybe one of the obstacles for you is that you just don't even know where to start because there's too many things to do. And you're overwhelmed. What helps me is to assign some general tasks to certain times of the day.


Like I always put the dishes away in the morning. I always clean off the counter after dinner, but maybe there's some tasks that work really well for the afternoon. Like you starting a load of laundry or you folding some laundry. Maybe a good task in the afternoon is preparing the snack for your kids after school so that you can just sit and connect.


What are some of those regular to-do's that come up that you can count on for the afternoon? So instead of feeling like a chicken running around with their head cut off, you can have a little bit more focus of a limited number of possible tasks you can choose from, instead of looking at a huge long list or feeling so overwhelmed, you don't know where to start.


And as part of that potential list, I would consider what are some things that take you 10 minutes or less to do? Maybe you can make a list of those items, write it down and put it on the inside of one of your cabinets. Like tape it up. And when you're feeling that, okay, I have 20 minutes, I feel like I've rested enough today.


I want to do one of these things, open that cupboard and take a look at the list and choose one. And I would again, make sure it's a lower amount of time. Something that is easier to do so that you can create momentum and feel more energy again in your life, especially for the big afternoon rush when your kids are home.


I hope that Meg's example was helpful for you and I also hope this whole episode gave you the hug and kick in the pants that you need to grow. The progress pointers from this episode are going to be a little different because I'm just going to go through those big tips.


Number one, when you want to create momentum and you want to get going, instead of staying stuck, number one, do something to start. Two, focus on time. Three, make it enjoyable. Four, make it easier. And five report in for duty.


Your do something task is to choose one of these items and do them. If I could give you just one to do, I would do blast off. Try blast off for me, do 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 blast off and get off the couch or get out of the shower or go and put away that laundry.


Okay. Do blast off for me. And I would love to hear about it. And from those I hear about, I get to spotlight a progressor from the community. And today the progressor spotlight is a woman named Lauren who emailed me and she said, or she DM'd me and she said,


"I've heard your procrastination podcast before, but this time it really hit me. I'm applying to online graduate school and it's a daunting process. I'm applying to four schools. And I have been telling myself to just start the application thinking that that was starting small, but that was actually very vague and still to big. Instead, I'm refocusing on just doing one page of one application by tomorrow. That is a bite-sized chunk I can handle. Thanks for the reminder."


 Lauren that was the perfect example of this. Oftentimes that's what we're doing, right? Our expectations of what the task actually is, is still so big that it's not doable. It requires too much energy. And I love how she broke that down to not only the first step to start with, but making it easier.


She's combining two of our tips there. So well done, Lauren. I am so grateful that you took the time to listen today.


I was hoping that you could do me a favor, share about the podcast with a friend or a family member, and a step beyond that as to leave a rating and review on apple podcasts or Spotify, this podcast cannot grow without you.


I'm so glad you're here. Now go and do something with what you learned today.


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