The Five-Minute Rule

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05th January, 2023

If procrastination is a big challenge for you, try the five-minute rule.

By promising yourself that you will spend just five minutes on an outstanding task, you eliminate many of the excuses that stop you from starting.

Almost anyone can dedicate just five minutes to writing an email, researching a topic, completing some filing or outlining a new task.

Often, once the five minutes are finished, the motivation to continue remains. Even if you move on to another productive task, the small jobs completed within the five minutes still represent an important contribution to your overall output. As ever, it is these small tasks that we put off the most.

This technique is often used in depression counselling wherein the psychologist and client agree that after doing the activity for five minutes the client is free either to continue the activity or stop doing it.

The first five minutes of anything is the hardest part. People often put things off until the last minute or worse, have the most difficulty with getting started.

About 4 out of 5 people who procrastinate find that just working on this one piece of the puzzle solves the majority of their procrastination problems.

Procrastinating in some way is a natural tendency. We avoid doing what we anticipate will be unpleasant.

Avoidance provides a sense of relief from what we don’t want to experience. The more relief we feel, the more often we avoid. Ultimately, this can lead to a strategy in which avoidance is the sole component, which can be very problematic.

Moreover, the longer we avoid a specific task, the more anxious we feel about continuing to put it off.

Setting the intention and starting is usually the hardest part. By thinking about the task as something that may take only 5 minutes, it feels much less overwhelming and a lot more doable.

Consequently, there’s little reason to procrastinate.

Elon Musk intentionally plans his day out in five-minute increments or ‘time blocks.’

Each time block is assigned to a specific task or activity. For example, Musk would use the time blocking method when responding to overdue emails, eating meals, or timing overdue work meetings.

I have personally used this technique for many tasks I had been avoiding.

Starting my morning walk &  to get back to my yoga routine in this chill was easier with the 5 minute rule by promising myself that I shall only do it for 5 minutes.

Achieving my reading target and starting writing my third book has become easier using the ‘5 minute rule.’

Cleaning my office drawers, filing some important documents, cleaning my laptop screen with unwanted saved files, reading and deleting the 1000 odd unread mails are some irritants that I cleared and removed using this technique in the last week or so.

Try the ‘5 minute Rule’ in the New Year, improve your productivity and your mood. Finish your long pending tasks and stay blessed forever.