Inertia is an evil, and momentum is the antidote. As the saying goes, you tend to regret not the things you did, but the things you didn’t do. Inertia is that feeling of lethargy that stops you from doing what you need in favor of doing what you want. What you want tends towards the comfortable and familiar, anything that maintains status quo.

Inertia is death by a thousand cuts. When you postpone the hard stuff, you miss an opportunity to make progress on your goals. And it is more than that – each bit of progress you could have made would have had a compounding effect: when you understand part of a problem, you automatically start working it out in your head while doing other things; you talk to other people about it; you connect the dots when you see related patterns.

The key to fighting inertia is building momentum. Any kind of momentum, in fact. Just pick a thing that you want to do regularly – that you are willing and able to make time for – and do it religiously. The only catch is that this thing should give you a feeling of accomplishment at the end of the hour. For instance, I picked blogging as something I always look forward to doing. [1] You could pick a sport that you enjoy, if you like.

Once you have picked your thing, keep doing it. Then pick other important things on your list and start doing them alongside your thing (immediately before or after). For instance, reading Probabilistic Graphical Models right after writing a blog post.

[1] Another thing I look forward to doing is installing Gentoo, but let’s not go there….