If you have momentum, getting things done feels effortless. If you lose momentum, everything feels like a struggle.

Over the past couple of years as a product manager, we’ve had periods of months where it felt like we had some good momentum going. We were chugging along, making good software.

The rest of the time, especially when we had no momentum, things were tough. It felt like we were going nowhere.

Momentum killers

I’m increasingly on the lookout for momentum killers as a way to maintain our pace of change. Things like unexpected tasks have a way of really killing momentum. Even vacation time can put a drag on our team’s output in the weeks before and after.

Sometimes it’s impossible to predict a momentum killer. Or at least it seems at the time that it couldn’t be predicted. The little things like security audits, or refactoring, or small improvements might seem minor when you look at them in the backlog.

But those things might someday end up being a serious momentum killer that costs you far more time and effort than if you tackled them when you already had good momentum going.

Gaining and maintaining

Focus on gaining and also maintaining momentum and the net result will be a team that is efficient, happy and doing their best work.

Most importantly, when you do run into something that kills your momentum, try to work to minimize the amount of momentum you lose and work to get that forward motion happening again as quickly as possible.