Activation Energy

With a long to-do list, it can seem daunting to begin working on any one task. We often make our to-do lists known by posting them on our family whiteboard in the kitchen. Sometimes I overestimate what I can physically accomplish in one day. But what really helps me is to know that each task comes with a resistance to get started.

In chemistry, it is the activation energy required to begin a chemical reaction. It’s usually a spike in energy required at the beginning, and then the reaction carries on itself with little or no added energy. Just beginning your day requires activation energy – getting out of bed (higher energy) vs hitting snooze (low energy). 

The five second rule really helps here because you build a little beginning routine by saying 5-4-3-2-1 to yourself and then moving. The other great tip is that the first task on your list usually requires extra activation energy because you are taking on the meta-task of working through your list. That means that future tasks are easier to begin. This is why some recommend to do the hardest task first (Eat That Frog-style) or some might say to do an easy task first because you just need to get the ball rolling.

Whatever you choose, just start. It won’t be that bad and you’ll be done before you know it!

Comments are closed.