You have a BIG speech presentation tomorrow, and you haven't started. Your luggage has been screaming "please unpack me" for the last week. And you haven't opened any of your need-to-be-paid-right-now bills...
Can you answer one thing for me dear reader?
What in the name of PRODUCTIVITY are you doing surfing the net...again?
We've all been there. We put things off. And then we feel the consequences— as we scurry to get 'er done and the unnecessary angst furiously floods into our nervous system like water bursting out of a dam.
It doesn't have to be this way.
Today, I'll share two solutions with you— the five-minute rule and the five-second rule— that will trick your brain into crushing procrastination, and zapping unnecessary stress.
What's the five-minute rule? How does it work?
The five-minute rule is a cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) technique used to spark motivation when you are wading knee deep in procrastination.
You pick the task you want to work on. And then you vow to work on the task for five minutes and five minutes only. After five minutes, you can stop.
Let's say, for example, you have a sink full of dirty dishes and you reaaaaaaally don't feel like washing them. You've just returned from a long day at work and you're drained. Rationally, you know you need to wash them— they're just going to keep piling up day after day— but you just don't feel like it.
Using the 5-minute rule, you'd tell yourself, "I'm going to wash the dishes for five minutes, and five minutes only, and then I can stop."
The magic of the five-minute rule comes from the fact that, for many of us, starting is often the hardest part. Our minds often block us from starting because the big blob of a task seems just that— too big!
We worry it will take too long to complete, so we don't start. What a lot of my clients find (myself included) is once they start the five minutes, they keep on going.
Once the psychological barrier is broken and we are actually doing the task— elbow deep in a sink of warm sudsy water, bathing dishes— the task may start to feel good, perhaps even satisfying.
I'll be honest. I'm not the tidiest woman on the block. I'd rather be skiing, biking, hiking, cooking....anything other than cleaning! So I use the five-minute rule to help me procrastinate less and clean more.
Don't feel like folding the elephant sized laundry pile? Five-minute rule. Don't feel like mopping up the splattered baby food that has now encrusted on the floor? Five-minute rule. Don't feel like sloping the leftovers into tupperware? Five-minute rule.
You get my drift.
By committing to five minutes and five minutes only, the tasks seems more doable and less overwhelming. Consequently, there is little reason to procrastinate because you've made your goal very manageable— just five little minutes.
What's the Five-Second Rule? How does it work?
I recently learned about the five-second rule created by serial entrepreneur and motivational speaker, Mel Robbins. Like the five-minute rule, the five-second rule also works to bypass the psychological barriers that are holding us back from doing what we need to do.
How does it work? When you need to do something and you hesitate, count 5-4-3-2-1-GO and take action. As soon as you reach “1” – push yourself to move.
Let's say you've made a goal of running three times a week. Your alarm rudely jolts you awake at 6am. It's cold, dark, and dreary outside. Yesterday's goal now seems like the worst idea...ever! All you want to do is stay nuzzled in the cozy haven of your blanket.
Mel says, using the "5-second rule is how you push yourself to do the hard stuff – the work that you don’t feel like doing, or you’re scared of doing, or you’re avoiding."
In the case of the run, instead of hitting the snooze, say to yourself, "5-4-3-2-1-GO" and go! Get out of bed, get your gear on, and move.
Why does this work? You have five seconds until your mind kills an idea or action you want to take. Hesitate and your mind will flood you with excuses, unhelpful thoughts, and worries, that will block you from taking action.
Say your boss asks for ideas at the Monday morning meeting. A lightbulb goes off in your head and you've come up with a brilliant idea. But before you raise your hand to share, you hesitate. Five seconds pass, and you second guess yourself. "It's not really a good idea. It's too simple. People might think it's dumb. I won't share it."
Has something like that ever happened to you?
It sure as heck has happened to me!
Instead, when you start to hesitate, internally say, "5-4-3-2-1-GO", and raise your hand in that meeting. See what happens.
The five-minute rule and the five-second rule are two techniques that work to bypass the barriers that block you from both the microscopic and the enormous things you want to accomplish in your life. Whether it's conquering a mountain of dirty dishes or conquering, well, an actual mountain—start with five seconds or five minutes, and I betcha you'll surprise yourself.
Yes, you can do it!
Did you try the five-minute rule or the five-second rule? What happened? Your feedback is graciously welcomed.