The 5 Minute Rule — Productivity hack or a myth?
Last updated: Nov 14, 2021
Doesn't it sound daunting to gather up all the energy and motivation to start working on your side project, or focus on studies, or develop a new habit, or complete that work given at your job.
It really is procrastination as much as you want to say otherwise. But don't feel bad, it happens with everyone. But those who fix it move ahead in life.
Let's introduce the 5 Minute Rule, see how it works, why it works, and if it is for you.
What is Discomfort? Rational & Emotional side of the brain
As humans, we hate being uncomfortable. The emotional side of our brain is always looking for ways to make us comfortable. Whether it's physically or mentally. This is why you will have a better time reading a book on a cozy sofa with some nice tea in the winter season, than sitting straight on a chair and table in proper posture.
This emotional part of your brain wants to avoid everything possible to make sure you're feeling safe, cozy, comfy, and relaxed. This is why it's so easy to start playing a video game, and not so easy to get out of the rut in the morning. This is the reason why going to the gym is a daunting task, and you're more likely to skip it.
The other side of the brain is the rational side, which knows exactly what is good for you, and what is bad. This part of the brain knows it's better to not smoke, because of the long-term harmful effects, but the emotional part takes over, and releases enough Dopamine for you to forget long-term plans, and indulge in a fun short-term activity.
What is the 5 Minute Rule? How to get something done?
Well, the answer is in the question itself. We often tend to have way bigger goals, and we overestimate our potential. Now I know you should dream big, and have huge goals, but not knowing where you're at is just plain stupid.
For example, if you know that you can't sit for 3 hours to finish an assignment at school, then don't fool yourself. Plan to write part of an essay that you can finish in 30 minutes, or plan to do something else that is under the realms of your concentration power.
Don't expect drastic results by doing drastic work at once! It takes time, and most of the time it's long-term. You're not going to be successful by working extremely hard every 1st of the month. Even if you outwork everyone else on that day, it's not enough.
Instead, do 1/30th of that task every single day of the month. Hmm, sounds easy now doesn't it? "Write a book of 300 pages" sounds like an insane amount of work.
But "write 1 page a day" for 300 days doesn't sound so bad.
The difference here is that you will keep thinking that, oh I don't have 300 days, I need to get this done now, well then there are 2 possible scenarios.
First, you ramp it up and do 2 pages a day in 150 days. Done! Second, you procrastinate forever, since it's a lot of work, and the book never gets written. 300 days pass by and you think to yourself "I wish I wrote a page everyday"
Why does the 5 Minute Rule work?
The whole idea here is to get you started at something. That's it. If you set a timer of 5-minutes and say in this 5 minutes all I will do is finish up this very small task, and nothing else. Then trust me you will be able to get that done. Even if that's a small task, you will get something done.
Most importantly this is just the start, once you get started there's a good chance you'll keep going. Even better if you continue doing these 5-minute sprints every day, then you will get more habitual to be able to bear 10 minutes sprints now, and so on. Slowly your dopamine levels will start to shift from short-term excitement to long-term goals.
In fact, do it now. Pause reading this article, take out a timer, or go to this link for an online timer, and do a task. Now. The continue reading the rest of the article.
The 5-minute rule makes the task so easy, just 5 minutes. It's hard not to do it. Your brain sees the end, i.e., 5 minutes. And your brain knows it's soon. Very soon. So you're motivated, unlike setting up big goals like completing all the assignments, or tasks. Just do one. More likely than not, you'll end up doing more than one.
Understand your current power, understand your current potential, current focus, current capacity. Work, based on that, and you will achieve something, but if you think you're insane and should be doing this much work, then you won't do even that much.
At the end of the 5 minutes, you will have done SOMETHING. Which is a great feeling.
Getting started is always the most difficult part, use the 5 Minute Rule to make that easy.
Hope this works out for you. Cheers!
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