Morning Momentum: The #1 Factor That Makes Or Breaks My Productivity

If you’re into productivity, I’m sure you’ve asked yourself this question before:

“Why am I so productive on some days, but completely unproductive on others?

I am yet to figure out the answer to this question completely. But I have identified ONE main factor that influences whether my day will be highly productive or a complete waste of time.

In this article, I will reveal to you what this factor is, the theory behind why it makes such a big difference, and how best to make use of it in your own life…

THIS Is It

Alright, what’s this mysterious thing that has such a huge impact on my productivity? It’s something I call morning momentum. Fancy name, but it’s really just about how productive I am during the first few hours of my day.

You see, the more work I get done in those first few hours — aka the more morning momentum I have — the more productive I tend to be during the rest of the day.

And it works both ways. So, the less work I get done in the morning hours — aka the less morning momentum I have — the less productive I tend to be during the rest of the day.

This phenomenon is actually quite easily explained…

Why This Works

I believe there are two main reasons behind why this works.

Reason #1: Newton’s First Law

I’ve never been into physics, but Newton’s First Law comes in handy to explain my morning momentum theory. It states:

“An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion.”

By applying this to productivity, we can conclude the following:

  • Once you’re working hard and are getting a lot of work done (you’re in motion), chances are you will keep working hard and getting stuff done (you stay in motion).
  • Once you’re wasting time and aren’t really doing anything (you’re at rest), chances are you’ll keep wasting time and doing nothing (you stay at rest).

If you’re productive during the first few hours of your day, Newton’s First Law says that you’ll stay productive for the rest of the day. If you’re not productive during the first few hours of your day, Newton’s First Law says that you’ll stay unproductive for the rest of the day.

You probably witness this in your own life all the time. When you’re in “doing mode” you kind of just keep going and grinding without much effort. Yet if you’re in “chill mode”, it can be very hard and effortful to get back to work again.

Reason #2: The Progress Principle

Teresa Amabile is a professor at Harvard Business School who studies how people and their productivity are influenced by everyday life situations in organizations. When she analyzed 12,000+ diary entries from 238 employees in seven companies, she found something remarkable that she then coined as The Progress Principle. She explains:

“Through exhaustive analysis of diaries kept by knowledge workers, we discovered the progress principle: Of all the things that can boost emotions, motivation, and perceptions during a workday, the single most important is making progress in meaningful work. And the more frequently people experience that sense of progress, the more likely they are to be creatively productive in the long run. Whether they are trying to solve a major scientific mystery or simply produce a high-quality product or service, everyday progress — even a small win — can make all the difference in how they feel and perform.”

Let me repeat that:

Of all the things that can boost emotions, motivation, and perceptions during a workday, the single most important is making progress in meaningful work. And: The more frequently people experience that sense of progress, the more likely they are to be creatively productive in the long run.

So, if you want to have a productive day, you must make progress on meaningful goals. Which is why it’s so important to start your day with lots of discipline. Get out of bed as soon as the alarm rings. Complete your morning ritual. Eat a healthy breakfast (or practice intermittent fasting). Get to work on time. And once you’re there, get as much work done as fast as possible.

That way you’re making the all-important progress. You’re getting in motion. You’re building momentum. And once you have that, things keep going by themselves.

Some Practical Tips to Start Your Day Productively

Quick recap: The first few hours of a day play a key role in how productive we’ll be on that particular day. The more we get done, the more disciplined we are, and the more progress we make during those first few hours, the more productive we will be all day long. This is easily explained by Newton’s First Law as well as The Progress Principle.

Therefore, to have a highly productive day, you must absolutely dominate the first few hours of that day. You need to smash through your morning ritual and knock out one task after another to get in motion, create momentum, and make progress.

If you mess up those critical morning hours, you’ll basically be screwed for the rest of the day. You’ll always face an uphill battle and frankly… chances are your day will go to shit. To make sure that won’t happen to you, check out these tips…

Plan your day the night before. Planning your day the night before ensures that you’ll know exactly what to do during those first few crucial hours of your day. This allows you to get a lot done without having to do a lot of thinking and wasting precious willpower. It also completely eliminates questions like, “What should I do next?” (Not knowing what to do usually makes me waste time and give in to distractions.)

Never hit the snooze button. Hitting snooze is one of the worst possible ways of starting your day — it’s starting with a setback instead of progress. It also drains your willpower, creates unnecessary stress, and leaves you more tired and groggy than when the initial alarm went off. You must find a way to eliminate this habit once and for all in your life.

Overcome initial resistance. I get it… you don’t want to take a cold shower. You don’t want to do your morning meditation. You don’t want to eat that frog. You just don’t feel like it. Well, if you want to have a productive day, you better learn how to overcome that initial resistance. Getting started is really all it takes. Remember, once you’re in motion you’ll stay in motion. So: Just. Get. Started. It’ll pay off big time.

Work on your willpower. Two years ago, I had close to zero willpower. I would always hit the snooze button, never follow through with my plans, and procrastinate the shit out of my life. Today, I can proudly say that my willpower is pretty high, meaning I can force myself to do a lot of things that would’ve been impossible even just a year ago. How did I get here? By learning everything about willpower I could and actually applying it. Willpower is a muscle — it grows bigger with use. And with a big enough willpower muscle, you can do things you never thought possible.

And there you have it. These tips will hopefully help you be more disciplined in the morning so that you can get in motion, make progress, and create the necessary momentum to have a great day.

Want to go further?

Do you want to see some other strategies I use to make the most out of my day? Then download my top productivity hacks by clicking the link below:

My Top 7 Productivity Hacks to Get More Done (free PDF)


A version of this article originally appeared on njlifehacks.com