Posted on September 12, 2023
Recently I was the guest on a live podcast and a participant asked me, “How can I overcome procrastination?”
I said, “That depends on what’s driving the behavior.”
The root cause of procrastination might be any number of things. For example, a shortage of self-discipline or willpower. Or motivation. Or raw energy. Or whatever.
So, I suggested we approach the problem using a concept from physics:
“Instead of trying to overcome procrastination, let’s focus on managing inertia.”
The term inertia comes from the Latin word iners which means idle or sluggish. The dictionary defines it as a tendency to do nothing or to remain unchanged. When you display inertia, you tend to persevere in your present state, continuing what you’re already doing. For example, if you’re static and immobile—e.g., stalling—inertia influences you to remain that way. And you probably call it procrastinating.
But get this! Once you are in motion, inertia tends to keep you in motion.
This means you can hack inertia and make it your friend. The key is to mobilize yourself and begin doing the task that needs to be done instead of delaying and making excuses. Once you’re in motion, inertia sustains your efforts and powers you forward. It’s an easy two-step process:
Simply commit yourself to 60 seconds of self-discipline. . . one quickie minute of the right behavior. That’s not much to ask. This puts you in gear and primes you to continue, just like Isaac Newton says in his first law of motion.
Sometimes I find myself wanting to skip my workout at LA Fitness. I won’t be in the mood to pump iron and sweat, so I start thinking up excuses. But if I make myself pick up the car keys, grab my gym bag, and start walking to my car, I keep going and complete my exercise routine. One minute of purposeful action and I’ve got momentum on my side. Inertia begins working on my behalf.
It’s sort of like the struggle you face when trying to get up an hour earlier in the morning. The minute while you’re getting up can be difficult, but being up for the next 59 minutes doesn’t take much effort at all.
The most critical phase is the first minute.
If you start moving in the right direction and stick it out for 60 seconds, Big Mo kicks in. It’s a one-minute drill that gets you over the hump and turns inertia into your goal-achieving motor.
ABOUT DR. PRICE PRITCHETT
Price Pritchett is one of the foremost experts on fast-growth strategies and breakthrough performance. His firm—PRITCHETT, LP—is recognized worldwide for its thought leadership on mergers, corporate culture, change management, and accelerated achievement. These writings define the behaviors and individual mindset underlying fast growth and innovation.READ MORE