Have you ever run across advice that seems too stupid and easy to actually be helpful? That’s what I first thought of the 5 second rule until I gave it a try. Usually, if something is too good to be true, it is! Luckily, this simple rule is easy to test to see for yourself it will work for you.
The premise is simple. When the instinct first pops into your head that you should be acting on a goal, you start counting back from 5 to 1 and then say “go!” in your head or out loud. Then you act. The key is to create physical momentum by moving once you reach go, even if it’s not the task you’re working towards. Say you feel like you should go to the gym to workout and normally you’d procrastinate. Instead, count back from five to “go!” and then take physical action. That action could be putting your gym clothes on or grabbing your gym bag. I’ll give you an example of how it worked for me.
My daily procrastination solved!
I’ve always been a snoozer. When the alarm goes off in the morning, I loved nothing more than to hit the snooze button and fall back asleep for a few minutes. A little bit of that is not bad until you’re spending 20-30+ minutes a day doing it. I decided to give the 5 second rule a try here and to my surprise, it worked! The alarm would go off and instead of hitting snooze I started counting at five and then counted my way back to one then go! I have a theory on why this trick works.
Why it works
I think it all comes down to tricking our monkey brain. Ever notice how it’s easy to commit to something tomorrow, but harder to actually follow through? By putting it out even just 5 seconds, you don’t have to commit to action now. You just have to commit to the countdown now. Although it’s just 5 seconds, it satisfies this natural urge to put off an unpleasant task till later.
Another way it tricks our brain is by not giving it time to come up with excuses or alternatives to what you know you should be doing. Whether you’re an alcoholic considering a drink or a tired worker asking yourself if you should hit the gym that day, the worst thing you can do is give your brain time to imagine making the wrong choice. It will immediately go to work coming up with reasons as to why that is the correct course of action.
Take 5 seconds today
Give it a try today and see if it works for you! It just takes 5 seconds to test run. I recommend it for smaller everyday tasks that you are in the habit of putting off. Say taking out the trash, getting up in the morning, going to the gym, or working on a task for a larger assignment. Procrastinating large goals that you haven’t started on is a different situation that would require a different strategy.
Check out the book here on Amazon if you’d like to learn more tips and background on how to implement the 5 second strategy. Don’t wait to read it, count down from 5 and get to it!
If you are procrastinating a big project, especially starting a business, check out this review of the $100 dollar startup. It helped me get from idea to up and running in a matter of weeks.