Motion Vs. Action: 2 Steps To Improve Productivity

1 min read
Motion vs Action

When putting together your day, you have to realize there are two distinct moments that you have to consider if you want to be productive: motion and action.

Motion means that you’re moving, but not necessarily in a specific direction. It includes activities such as planning, brainstorming, thinking, preparing for action. Motion is critical to plan and choose the next relevant actions

Action is when you take concrete steps towards your goals. The ideal ratio between motion and action is 1/10, and the two moments should have their own dedicated time.

Motion requires brain energy and a clear mind to be able to make choices.

Action requires committing to a task and getting it done.

These are two very different uses of our brain, and mixing them up results in stress and much higher energy consumption. I believe that trying to make a plan while executing is a very risky bet.

As children, we learned that it is much more efficient to plan something before taking action. When writing an essay, for example, we plan the structure (motion) and then get to the writing (action).

You make a plan and then execute it.

How to Get Back in Action After You’ve Been Distracted

We find ourselves forced to get back into motion several times throughout the day. Every time the next action is not explicit, we have to think about it and make a decision, a plan.

Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible in the current workspace only to dedicate some time in the morning to make a plan and execute it during the day. We get new emails/internal messages/calls, and new tasks arise.

Processing an inbox is motion. Deciding what’s the next action to perform a task in motion.

Shifting from action to motion breaks the flow and requires a lot of energy, which makes it harder to address the next activity. That’s why we find ourselves stuck in motion sometimes.

How to optimize your time in Motion and Action

Make time for recurrent motion activities

Make time for the daily activities that require motion. Add a slot in your calendar to review your daily plan, check your email inbox, or better your activities in plain text.


We shift to motion every time a task we have in our plan requires many activities to be performed, and the next action is not explicit. The best way to avoid this is to define all the sub-tasks in advance.

Mind your energy

The productivity #1 killer is trying to do something at the wrong time. The motion may require a lot of brain energy and focus, and you want to consider your energy level when you plan a “motion” slot.

How do I do it?

I use Akiflow.

  • Recurrent slots to review my daily plan and make sure all the tasks and sub-tasks are defined
  • Recurrent slots to review inboxes, multiple times a day