There are tons of literature out there that talk about how to save time and manage time. A lot of them are useful but most of them ignore a key resource related to time: momentum. Usually this term is thought of simply in physical terms; in physics, it is defined as the mass of an object x speed of the object. The bigger the object or the faster it moves, the greater its momentum. From the business perspective, a similar phenomenon occurs, albeit not physically. The “mass” is the importance of the activity/decision (the object). As the organization implements activities faster and faster (and achieves progress faster and faster), it gains momentum. (The slower, the less momentum). Despite the old adage, “Time is Money”, I would argue that “Momentum is Money.” Time happens regardless of what you do; money doesn’t. Momentum, on the other hand, has everything to do with what you do and how and when you do it. (And surprise, so does money).
Have you ever experienced the feeling of high motivation when you’ve been crazy busy? Even more so if you’ve been consistently achieving success? When you’re “on a roll”? The same thing happens to organizations. Digressing back to a related physics concept, “an object in motion stays in motion” (and an object at rest stays at rest). If your organization is actively growing and changing and innovating, it is gaining “momentum” which further motivates more growing, changing, and innovating. Similarly, the longer an organization takes to change or implement something, the more momentum is lost (and the more likely things will stay the same or even deteriorate).
Now, mind you, this doesn’t mean hurry up and do everything, move up all deadlines, cut corners, etc. It’s not about being faster as much as it is about, well, simply staying in motion, consistently. To be more specific, it’s important to stay in FORWARD motion–again, it’s not just about doing stuff and doing lots of it. It’s about building.
Think, what activities will move you forward towards your goals? What activities will BUILD on other activities?
The other side of momentum, is the lack or loss of it. And I think some of that can be attributed to the way we think about time; we think of the effect of time as linear. Say what?
Ok, yes, I know, just like counting on the number line, if you add 5 hours to 1PM and you get 6pm. Time does progress sequentially. But I didn’t say time wasn’t linear, I said the effect of time is not linear. If you start something 15 minutes late and it takes 1 hour, the next thing you have to do will also be delayed (by 15 mins or more), and the next thing and the next thing. You didn’t just lose 15 minutes, you lost multiples of them. (The alternate scenario would be that you shorten the time for the other things, which is another loss).
Let’s say your contractor said to you “due to some unforeseen problems, the project will not take 2 days it will take 6 days”. Mathematically, it’s triple the time–which is bad. Now let’s substitute the word time with delay. “Due to some unforeseen problems, the project will not delay 2 days, it will delay 6 days”. Ignoring the grammar police, see how that sounds different? You know how waiting in a line that doesn’t move feels like forever? You feel the same thing about delays. But delays aren’t just frustrating, they are expensive. What if the project we described means you can’t help customers for 6 days. Not only do you lose sales, you lose customers. For a single customer, the waiting on day 3 is so much more frustrating than it was on day 2 and definitely not the same (probably more) as waiting on day 1. Each customer you have suffers the delay, not just you. Yes, perhaps you can “make up” the time (doing things faster or cutting tasks) but that would be at the expense of doing less than you initially planned. Delay much like decay, has a compounding effect. (A compounding increase is where each time of increase is based on the sum of original amount and its previous increases). But the worst (and possibly more expensive) part of losing momentum, is about having to then fight inertia in order to build it back up again.
How do you prevent the loss of momentum?
Consistent action. Some delays may be inevitable; things might slow down. If you start to sense a drop in momentum, quickly decide and do something to jumpstart it. Find a mastermind, talk to a business coach, have a brainstorming session, go to a training, watch something inspirational, find something to inject new energy into your team/organization. Whatever you do, don’t just manage and nickel and dime your time, make sure to manage your momentum!
What slows you down? What motivates you? What are other ways that can increase your momentum? Would love to know, in the comments below…