The 5-Minute Rule: Beat Procrastination and Boost Productivity

Everybody procrastinates occasionally. They might do it while studying, when hitting the gym, or trying to pick up a book. When it happens rarely, it’s not an issue. But when the frequency is high, it can hurt our mental and physical health. When we find ourselves unable to get anything done, we need something to beat the procrastination. A simple solution to this is the 5-minute rule.

Let’s have a look at what the 5-minute rule is and how you can use it to beat procrastination.

A short explanation of what the 5-minute rule is and how to use it to beat procrastination
The 5-minute rule

What is the 5 minute rule

The 5-minute rule is a simple cognitive behavioral therapy technique. It’s created to beat procrastination and increase productivity.

The rule is easy to use. All you need to do is to commit 5 minutes to the task you’re procrastinating. After those 5 minutes, it’s up to you whether you want to continue or leave the task.

The rule can be used for anything you might procrastinate. It can help you with reading, studying, working out, forming habits and much more.

Related: What is the 2-minute rule?

Why the 5-minute rule can help you overcome procrastination

Large tasks seem unmanageable. They require a large amount of effort and time. The more time and effort it requires, the more likely you’ll be to procrastinate.

The 5-minute rule tricks your brain into believing the task is small and manageable. Instead of committing for an hour, you just have to give 5 minutes. When you know that you don’t have to continue for long, it’ll be much easier to get started.

Starting is usually the hardest part of doing something, but the 5-minute rule can make it easier. When the time is up, you can decide whether you want to continue or leave.

You’ll find that most times, once you’ve started, you’ll want to continue. And even when you leave after 5 minutes, you still do more than you otherwise would.

Related: Why you should never miss two days in a row

How to use the 5-minute rule to beat procrastination

The 5-minute rule is simple and easy to use. It only requires 4 small steps. Let’s have a look at how you can beat procrastination.

Related: How to increase productivity with a journal

1. Remove distractions and prepare yourself

A simple trick to get more done is to remove distractions before you begin. Put your phone on airplane mode or out of reach, close unnecessary tabs on your computer, or remove whatever is distracting you.

When there is nothing to steal your focus, it’ll be easier to start. You’ll even be more likely to continue after the 5 minutes.

When you’re distraction-free, you can begin preparing for the task.

2. Set a timer

Once you’re ready to start, you can set a timer for 5 minutes.

In some cases, it makes more sense to set a small goal for yourself instead of a timer. Or you might simply prefer this approach. A few examples of what this might look like could be:

  • Working out: Instead of setting a timer, you can show up at the gym and change.
  • Reading: Instead of reading 5 minutes, you can read one page.
  • Instead of writing 5 minutes, you can write one paragraph.

Remember, the goal should be small to have the right effect. If you make it too big, it loses its purpose.

3. Work until the timer goes off

This step is the same whether you went with the timer or a small goal. Work until the time is up or you’ve reached the small goal.

4. You decide how to proceed

Once the time is up, you can decide how you’ll proceed.

If you don’t feel it, you can leave it knowing you did something. There is no shame in letting it go here. It was still a small win.

In most cases, you won’t have a problem continuing after the 5 minutes. Continue for as long as you want. Enjoy it.

Finishing thoughts

The 5-minute rule is a simple cognitive behavioral therapy technique that can help you overcome procrastination. To use it, all you have to do is commit 5 minutes of focus to the task that you’re procrastinating.

After the 5 minutes, you’re free to stop. But often, you’ll find that you want to do more.

What to read about next:

How to beat procrastination

Goal journaling

Productivity journaling