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The science behind making a change that lasts | The JotForm Blog

Momentum vs Friction

Not breaking the chain leads to momentum, the force that allows something to grow stronger or faster as time passes. But like everything else, momentum has an equal and opposite reaction.

Friction is the resistance caused when one object is moving at a different rate than another. Friction the enemy of momentum, the force that breaks the chain.

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The science behind making a change that lasts | The JotForm Blog

The science behind making a change that lasts | The JotForm Blog

https://www.jotform.com/blog/dont-break-the-chain/

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Key Ideas

"Don’t break the chain"

This is a productivity and motivation technique used and popularised by Jerry Seinfeld.

Each day you complete your task, you put an X in your calendar. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. The temptation to skip a day will be weaker because you'll enjoy seeing that chain form, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt.

Momentum vs Friction

Not breaking the chain leads to momentum, the force that allows something to grow stronger or faster as time passes. But like everything else, momentum has an equal and opposite reaction.

Friction is the resistance caused when one object is moving at a different rate than another. Friction the enemy of momentum, the force that breaks the chain.

The compound effect

Sustained momentum toward a singular goal creates a compound effect. 

This means that consistent, incremental changes can result in fundamental changes over time.

Gary Keller and Jay Papasan

Gary Keller and Jay Papasan

“Where I’d had huge success, I had narrowed my concentration to one thing, and where my success varied, my focus had, too … Success is sequential, not simultaneous.”

This endowed progress effect

This shows that a person who feels like they're making progress toward a goal is more likely to complete it and faster than a person who feels they’re starting from scratch.

Creating momentum

  1. Start by defining your one goal, the purpose of your chain. Schedule uninterrupted times into your day for it.
  2. Pursue your chain using whatever tools make sense to you: you can choose to use a digital calendar or an analog one.
  3. Create outcome-based requirements for every link you add to the chain.
  4. Set reasonable boundaries that keep you on track, not scare you away.

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Behavior chains

Creating new habits that stick is easier if we make use of our current routines, instead of trying to fight them.

Use "if-then planning": choose a regular part of your schedule and then build another “link in the chain” by adding a new habit. For example: "If it is lunch time, then I will only eat meat and vegetables.”

Simplify decision-making

Making repeated choices depletes our mental energy, even if these choices are mundane and pleasant.

If you want to maintain long term discipline, aim for fewer decisions during the day: identify the aspects of your life that you consider mundane and then ‘routinize’ those aspects as much as possible.

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'Eat that Frog'

This is a productivity method developed by Brian Tracy. The 'frog' refers to the most important and most impactful task you have to complete.

If you work on it first thing e...

Clarify your goals

If you don't know what your goals are, most likely you won't be able to identify and prioritize the specific tasks you need to work on to achieve those goals. 

Write your major goals down and break them into tasks. Your goal tasks are your frogs, the things you want to work on first thing every day for greater productivity and success.

Think long-term

... to make better short-term decisions.

If you question the consequences of doing/not doing a to-do before you start on it, it not only makes it easier to find your frogs, but it also makes it easier to find time-wasting tasks that are better deleted from your list or delegated to someone else.

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Getting Things Done: the basics

  • Capture. Write down everything you need to do.
  • Clarify. Break down each task into an actionable next step. 
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The 2-minute rule

If a task takes less than 2 minutes, then do it now.

If the effort to keep remembering a task is more than just getting it out of the way now, then do it.

Fixing small tasks

  • Fixing things is empowering. Our confidence increases or decreases based on our ability to make progress. 
  • Any progress builds momentum (and your mood): No matter how small the task is, crossing it off your to-do list gives you a boost of momentum and enhances your mood.
  • Small steps turn into habits: When a task is easy to do and quickly completed, it’s much easier to turn it into a habit.

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