Newton’s First Law of Motion
From the Headmaster's Desk, December 3, 2018
In 1687, just a few years after Reading Blue Coat School first opened, Sir Isaac Newton published a famous text that outlines his laws of motion. In this work he laid some of the foundations of physics and science that are still true today.
Newton’s first law of motion: An object either remains at rest or continues to move at a constant velocity, unless acted upon by an external force. This is sometimes called the law of inertia.
Now this is a law in physics, but it applies in other areas of life, including even your approach to school work.
Objects at rest tend to stay at rest. In this way, procrastination is a fundamental law of the universe. Newton’s law seems to acknowledge that procrastination is normal. If we are not doing something, then we will continue not doing something. Despite the long weekend, I imagine it took some considerable force to get you out of bed and get you in motion this morning. Objects at rest tend to stay at rest. That is the way inertia works.
Yet the same law also has some very good news. Objects in motion tend to stay in motion. This is good news now that you are all out of bed and sitting here this morning. You’ve already made progress to get to this point in the day, and now we all have some forward momentum as you go on to lessons.
Sometimes the transition from being at rest to being in motion does take some considerable force. But given once you are in motion, you tend to stay in motion, it means that overcoming procrastination is actually quite easy. When it comes to being productive, this means just one thing: the most important thing is to starting moving. Once you have started, then it is easy to stay in motion.
So to overcome any procrastination, just get started. Some people talk about the two-minute challenge: If you know that you’re procrastinating, challenge yourself to start a task within two minutes. You don’t have to finish the task – just get started. Sit down, put your phone away, get out your textbook and open to the right page. Open the word document on your computer and write the first sentence, then the first paragraph. You will find once you’ve started, it’s easier to keep moving. And once you’ve started being productive, you’re more likely to continue being productive, because of the satisfaction that brings.
So have a great week. Get started on the important tasks in front of you, within two minutes, work hard, and I know that you will all continue to make good progress.