A Quick Overview of Momentum Planning

Imagine waking up each morning and knowing that the small steps laid out in front of you led into a bigger plan that builds the type of meaningful life you want to live. All you have to do is show up, work your list, and follow the prompts.

That’s exactly what Momentum is designed to help you do. 

Productivity isn’t just about crossing as many items as you can off a chronological to-do list. That’s not what moves you closer to your goals. It’s actually about prioritizing, setting realistic goals, and crossing the right things off your list so you can move your best-work forward. And that’s what the Momentum App is going to help you do.

The Momentum Planning Method

Momentum is the new, app version of our popular Momentum Planner, which has been downloaded more than one million times. If you’re familiar with our Momentum Planning method, you know that it helps you: 

  • Gain clarity and avoid overwhelm
  • Stay focused and finish your projects
  • Do more of your best work

Momentum Planning is the continual process of making and adjusting plans across all time perspectives. Each shift in timescale is a shift in perspective. Within the Momentum app you’ll be able to make and see your plans at the monthly, weekly, and daily perspectives. These different views were designed to work in concert and will help you both chunk big projects down into doable blocks and tasks, and clump your smaller chunks into larger, linked units.

Core Principles of Momentum Planning

Momentum was built with these core principles in mind that may simultaneously support and frustrate you:

  1. Commit to no more than five active projects per time scale. Struggling to make progress on your goals? Often the reason is not a problem with focus, efficiency, or procrastination but an overload due to overcommitment. Momentum has tips and hints built in to alert you when you’ve taken on more than five projects during any time scale. 
  2. Constraints help us focus on the things that really matter because they account for the fact that our reach always exceeds our grasp. Limiting the number of project slots creates displacement which allows us to make better choices. At each time view, Momentum allows you to prioritize, confirm, or defer a project so you can stay focused on what’s most important to you.
  3. We need different levels of detail at different altitudes of perspective. The level of detail you need at the daily view is far greater than what is needed at the monthly or quarterly view. Momentum allows you to keep multiple time horizons in your sights so as you plan your day you can look to your projects for the week, as you plan your week you can look to the month and so on. When you need clarity of purpose, shift up; when you need clarity of action steps, shift down. 
  4. Chunking your projects down into manageable parts is a critical step in moving from idea to done. The best way to get big goals done is to break them into smaller, doable parts. Start by thinking about WHAT aspects of the project need to get done. Momentum will prompt you to include discrete project chunks at each time perspective and allows you to easily move them around if you need to shift and sequence as the inevitable emergent project comes up. 
  5. Make your project chunks actionable by using verbs. Using a verb-noun construct for your project chunk not only informs what action you need to take but the verbs themselves hint at what size of a project you’re dealing with and in what order the actions should be taken making it easier to chunk, sequence, and plan your project in Momentum.

For more details on these core principles and other essential skills for doing your best work visit our Momentum Planning Resources page.

How to Do Your First Round of Momentum Planning

The hardest part of Momentum Planning is doing the first round, because it’s not completely obvious where to start. Here’s how to do your first round of Momentum Planning on Momentum: 

1. Start with the week-level perspective.

The week is the best place to start your Momentum Planning in the app. It’s just big enough for you to see a bit of horizon to plan, and just small enough to be manageable for taking action on your projects. Your weekly dashboard gives you that Goldilocks view without the overwhelm of being too much in the clouds or too much in the weeds. And seeing your monthly projects listed alongside provides perspective on the goals your weekly projects are feeding into. 

2. Review and capture any deadlines or events.

Look at the week ahead and account for any meetings, events, or deadlines that will influence how many blocks you’ll have available and when they are. 

3. Review, adjust, and capture your (no more than) five projects for the month.

This provides context for what your five projects for the week should be.

4. Decide what your five projects for the week need to be.

Remember you don’t have to fill up all five project slots  — you are committing to doing

projects, not just writing them down. 

5. Chunk your projects into blocks and tasks for the daily level. 

Reference your project list and your scheduled events and deadlines to determine what projects chunks you have capacity to work on each day. Apply a version of the Five Projects Rule here, too: if you have more than five events or project chunks on any given day, you likely can’t fit any more project chunks in.

6. Review, reassess, and revise your weekly projects as needed.

You’ll likely need to take a couple of passes, as the first pass is usually overly optimistic

even when using the Five Projects Rule.

As you work through this process you may find you need to adjust what projects you are able to work on when. At each stage (monthly, weekly, daily), Momentum allows you to choose whether to prioritize, confirm, or defer each project for that time view. Over time you’ll get more adept at estimating how much you can get done in a given day, week, or month. But don’t forget to account for the unexpected. Remember: when reality doesn’t fit your plans, don’t try to change reality — change your plans.

Do What Works for You

We understand that planning is personal and what works for some doesn’t work for others. 

If you’re really good at completing tasks but not great at the higher-level stuff, the app will help you maintain focus on the future that you’re trying to build. Conversely, if you’re really good at the higher-level stuff but have a hard time breaking down those Big Ideas, it will help you think about what it looks like to make those ideas real.

There’s no one right way to use Momentum.

As you use the app you’ll find elements of the system that work for you and some that don’t. This is a good thing — it means you’re learning more about what you need to be your most productive self.

Many people have no idea how they work, so their productivity is largely a crap shoot. Some days they’re good, other days they’re not.

Try all the features and over time once you start seeing trends in your productivity, you can keep doing what works and tweak (or let go of) what doesn’t. We’re each different, though, so your task is to figure out what works for you, not what works for other people. 

If you notice that you’re over-planning, stop. Do as much planning as you need to, and then get down to action.

If you notice that you don’t need to schedule exactly when you’ll be working on something, don’t. Just make sure you give yourself enough time to do it.

Don’t have any deadlines? Don’t worry about that box. Or use it for your own purposes.

What you’ll find in Momentum is a distillation of general principles and observations about how effective creative people work. At the end of the day, do what works for you.

Momentum Team

We're the team behind Momentum. And we're here to help get your most important projects from start to done.