"The Physics of Productivity: Newton's Laws of Getting Stuff Done with the Zettelkasten Method"


Hatched by Glasp

Aug 24, 2023

4 min read


"The Physics of Productivity: Newton's Laws of Getting Stuff Done with the Zettelkasten Method"

In 1687, Sir Isaac Newton published his groundbreaking book, The Principia: Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, which introduced his three laws of motion. These laws revolutionized the field of physics and changed our understanding of the world. Interestingly, Newton's laws can also be applied to productivity, simplifying work, and improving our lives. Let's explore how Newton's laws of motion can guide us towards greater productivity, and how we can enhance our creative thinking using the Zettelkasten method.

Newton's first law of motion states that an object at rest tends to stay at rest, while an object in motion tends to stay in motion. We can apply this law to productivity by understanding that procrastination is a natural tendency. Just as objects at rest tend to stay at rest, we often find it difficult to start a task. However, once we get the ball rolling, we gain momentum. To overcome procrastination, we can utilize the 2-Minute Rule. The rule suggests that if we can find a way to start a task in less than two minutes, we can overcome the initial inertia. Motivation often follows action, so starting small can be the key to maintaining productivity.

Moving on to the second law of motion, we encounter the equation F=ma. This equation tells us that the force acting on an object is equal to the mass of the object multiplied by its acceleration. In terms of productivity, this law reminds us that it's not just about how hard we work but also where we direct our efforts. We have a limited amount of force to provide to our work, and it's crucial to allocate it effectively. It's not about working harder; it's about working smarter. By focusing on the right tasks and directing our efforts towards them, we can maximize our productivity.

Finally, Newton's third law of motion states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This law can be related to the balance between productive and unproductive forces in our lives. We all have a certain speed at which we perform, a balance of productivity and efficiency. To increase our productivity, we have two options. The first is to increase the productive forces, pushing through and working harder. The second option is to eliminate the opposing forces. By simplifying our lives, learning to say no, and reducing unnecessary responsibilities, we can remove the obstacles that hinder our productivity. By reducing unproductive forces, we allow our productivity to flow naturally.

Now, let's introduce the Zettelkasten method and explore how it can enhance creativity and productivity. The Zettelkasten method is a note-taking system that allows researchers to store and retrieve information while also promoting creative thinking. The method involves numbering notes hierarchically and adding metadata to establish connections between individual pieces of information. By cross-referencing notes through tags, researchers can perceive relationships and connections that may not be apparent in isolation.

The Zettelkasten method aligns with Newton's laws of motion by emphasizing the importance of connections and relationships. Just as Newton's second law highlights the significance of where force is applied, the Zettelkasten method encourages us to see connections between notes and ideas. This ability to perceive relationships enhances creativity and allows for new insights and perspectives.

In conclusion, by applying Newton's laws of motion to productivity and incorporating the Zettelkasten method, we can unlock our potential for greater productivity and creative thinking. Here are three actionable pieces of advice to implement in your life:

  • 1. Embrace the 2-Minute Rule: Overcome procrastination by finding a way to start a task in less than two minutes. Remember that motivation often follows action.
  • 2. Direct your efforts effectively: Understand that it's not about working harder but about working smarter. Allocate your limited resources of time and energy to the tasks that will yield the greatest results.
  • 3. Simplify your life: Eliminate unproductive forces by saying no, reducing responsibilities, and creating an environment that supports your productivity. By doing so, you allow your productivity to flow naturally.

By combining these principles from Newton's laws of motion and the Zettelkasten method, you can optimize your productivity, simplify your work, and enhance your creative thinking. So, get started and unlock your full potential!

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