Five-minute rule: Your alarm starts to ring. You check your phone – it’s 6 in the morning. You took a quick sanity check and blurted out, “I don’t want to wake up just yet.” You think to yourself; it wouldn’t hurt to savor a few more minutes of comfort in your bed. But would it not, really?
Every day, we experience a certain kind of rebellion at the sight of a long list of errands that we need to do. Sometimes, the idea of having a tall order intimidates us – we resort to thinking we won’t be able to accomplish them. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that we are lazy or incompetent. It’s just a mere case of the human tendency to procrastinate. Luckily, there is a simple trick to fight this off and accomplish our to-do list with flying colors.
Have you ever heard of the five-minute rule? It is a cognitive behavioral therapy technique for procrastination. In context, it simply tells you to do what you dread to do for five minutes before entirely giving up if that is an option you can take. The idea is to try doing something first before leaving it altogether if it makes you feel sick to your stomach. This trick can be compared to dipping your feet in the water for a temperature check before diving.
Bust the stereotypes, focus on the action.
You see, we try to motivate ourselves in everything we do. Most of the things we do get too repetitive; we either grow sick and tired of the monotony, or we end up losing the will to do them. The thing is, these repetitive things usually bring food to our tables. We might miss the chance to buy our next dream purchase or hit the marks to get that bonus without doing these things.
Sometimes, we fail to sustain our motivation or will to start crossing out items on our list. So, if motivating yourself doesn’t work anymore, maybe forcing ourselves to do what we need to do for five minutes might do the trick. After all, five minutes of trying to finish something is good enough to help make us reach a sound decision afterward. Some of us might just need a little push to accomplish our tasks. Like diesel, we need to heat up first before we roll.
Sometimes, reward beats conscience.
Not everyone will be motivated by throwing the conscience card. If you are one of these people, you need a gentle reminder of why you must do what you need to do. Whether it be personal or general, they work well in making us get the job done. In the five-minute rule, we urge ourselves that nobody else will do our work regardless of how long we try to hold them off. It also helps us remember that our work is essential and contributes towards something meaningful to us.
When procrastination gets too intense, following the five-minute rule by focusing on the reward could impact our willpower and mindset. The reward could be as simple as treating yourself with French fries, whether you carry on with your work after five minutes or not. The point is at least you did not ditch the work entirely, or immediately.
If good things come to those who wait, isn’t procrastination a virtue? No, smarty-pants! There is no virtue in stalling something you know you still have to do despite your exhaustive efforts to avoid it. You are only delaying your success. Remember, there is no rest for the wicked.
It can only take you so far.
As you can expect with tricks, they are often just band-aid solutions. The effect is usually temporary, but the technique drives you enough to get to a realization point. Gain enough headspace to assess where procrastination is coming from by following the five-minute rule. After doing so, focus on addressing the cause as it might be rooted somewhere deep, and when that happens, it could be high time for you to decide for yourself.
The five-minute rule is an effective technique to beat procrastination. While it’s a natural tendency for us humans, we have to ensure that we don’t make a habit out of it. The technique does not only help us get started when starting is the hardest. What was that line in a song again? Oh, “the hardest part is over; now it’s easy letting go.” Getting started is almost always the hardest, indeed. But by also thinking that our tasks can be done in just five minutes, we get rid of the overwhelming feeling towards our errands. Next thing we know, we’re already halfway through it.
Set a goal for the things you need to do, make a deal with yourself to do it for five minutes, then, if you still feel so bad about doing it, stop. Reward yourself for trying. But when you finally get your groove and five minutes have already lapsed, carry on with the work and wait for that YAASSS! feeling when you finally get the job done. Good job, you!