Update 19th Mar 2020

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Never heard of it? It may just change your life…

The 5 minute rule is a simple trick that uses psychology to beat procrastination and time wasting once and for all. The CEO of Instagram is famous for practicing it so let’s take a look at what it is, and why it works so well.

What is it?

The 5 minute rule is a promise you make to yourself that helps you combat those tasks you cannot be bothered to start or are too overwhelmed to get on with.

By telling yourself that all you have to do is the first 5 minutes of it something rather surprising happens: you’ll virtually always finish it. Now this doesn’t mean you’ll magically do all your work in 5 minutes, there’s no productivity trick that can do that for you just yet! But it does hint at something deeper about us and why it’s so easy for people from all walks of life to put things off.

Paying the Opportunity Cost

One of the main reasons that people put things off until later is what’s known as the opportunity cost. This is a term used to describe the fact that to do one thing at any given moment in time, you forfeit your ability to do anything else. Whilst this is common sense it still has a powerful impact on the way we approach our work. The issue arises when we find ourselves faced with a boring our time-consuming task. It not only uses up our time doing something we’d rather not do, but it also prevents us doing things we’d enjoy more. This doubles our desire to put it off.

The 5 minute rule is clever because it pays the opportunity cost without you realising it. By only committing to 5 minutes you don’t feel that you’re using up any appreciable amount of time. What’s interesting is why you’ll carry on working well after those 5 minutes are up…

Motivation Crushes Procrastination

The answer is that so often you find that the work is less daunting, boring, or difficult than you thought it would be. If you put off a task that you know you should be doing your brain will go into overdrive to try and justify why you’re making this fairly irrational decision.

The logical thing to think would be ‘I still have to do this, so I may as well get it out of the way’, unfortunately few of us are naturally programmed to think like that. The more you build up the job in your mind as something worth putting off, the more mountainous a task it will become.

The 5 minute rule blows these thoughts out of the water by showing you that if you spend a few minutes on something you can easily get to grips with it. This gives you an initial feeling that’s a mixture of pride in your work and euphoria that you no longer have this ‘huge’ task hanging over you.

Start Today

Remembering how the 5 minute rule works is just as important as remembering to implement it during the working day. By building an understanding you’ll be able to develop the willpower that sees you crush procrastination wherever it arises.

Perfect for powering through the working day like never before. 

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