why small wins are important to get things done


Tim Herrera’s Smart Living newsletter re-introduced the idea of “micro-progress” and I started thinking more about the concept and how I can apply this in everyday life.

My favorite expansion of this concept is in this post by James Clear. In it, he uses Newton’s laws of motion as analogies for productivity. To wit, rule No. 1: “Objects in motion tend to stay in motion. Find a way to get started in less than two minutes.”

Last summer, I discovered bullet journals and have been trying to write down active to-do lists to make sure that I wasn’t missing anything.  I wish that I can say, bullet journaling changed my life, but change doesn’t come that easily.

What I did learn was that merely crossing something off my to-do list creates that feel-good momentum, making it feel like I’m achieving something, even if it’s something as simple as “replying to an email.”

And this feeling is backed by research! Teresa Amabile and Steven J. Kramer shared the results of their fascinating study about progress and small wins.

When we think about progress, we often imagine how good it feels to achieve a long-term goal or experience a major breakthrough. These big wins are great—but they are relatively rare. The good news is that even small wins can boost inner work life tremendously. Many of the progress events our research participants reported represented only minor steps forward. Yet they often evoked outsize positive reactions.

Just crossing-off your to-do list helps to get you in the “groove” or “flow,” helping you to get closer to your ultimate goal.

Don’t get me wrong, “small wins” cannot replace hitting key milestones and completing a major project, but isn’t it great to know that we can trick ourselves to get our asses into gear?


Break down all of your activities into small tasks and cross off your tasks to experience “small wins,” which will ultimately give you the momentum you need to get in the “flow” to complete a gigantic project.

Photo by Agnieszka Boeske on Unsplash

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s