The solution to millions of years of evolution is a clock that counts down from five minutes.
You’ve probably heard of the five-minute rule. And if you’ve heard of it, you know what procrastination is. The five-minute rule is the enemy of procrastination.
You want to avoid work
In short, our brains are built to avoid work. It does everything to pick out tasks that give us energy, with the least possible use of energy. In other words, it looks at which tasks can be simplified.
Everything that seems to take time – make a video to upload to youtube, train for a marathon, write a book (I know all about this) takes time. Preferably days, weeks, and months. Writing a book usually takes a year or two. So, what do we do? Yes, we postpone it. We postpone it so long that we never get started.
What is the five-minute rule?
The five-minute rule suggests that you create a task that is part of the big task. Let’s say you are going to write a book. Set up five minutes on your phone and say that in the only five minutes I will write down ideas for a plot that I have. After the five minutes are over, I can do something else, whatever I want or change focus.
The result is that it seems very tempting to spend five minutes doing something that seems fun. Find a plot or create an idea for my book. It’s not as extensive as sitting down and starting to write a book?
Will you die?
You feel a lump in your stomach when you speak to an assembly?
The background to the fact that we humans are engaged in procrastination is evolutionary. Through evolution, we have developed our brain to have a flight and fight function. Very good to have if you are chased by an animal or are exposed to discomfort. Unfortunately, we experience this function even when we live in our modern times.
You feel a lump in your stomach when you speak to an assembly or when you meet someone who is important to you or, in short, when your head tells you that it is an important event – an event that the genre perceives as vital (even if it Of course, do not take your life, but tell your brain that surviving a speech to a large congregation will not kill you – it’s a waste.)
An event you wish you did not fail at automatically creates a flight and fight situation. And when your body notices this, a lot of adrenaline and other substances flush through your system and you go into a defense mode.
And this is where procrastination comes into the picture.
What science says?
In the book by Chip and Dan Heat Switch, they say that procrastination is the result of a conflict between the logical part of the brain and the emotional part. The emotional part of our brain is concerned with comfort. This means that it struggles to accept a long run in the morning even though you know you should.
This part of our brain is looking for tasks that provide immediate gain and reward. The rational part of our brain is our long-term planner. At the same time, this part of the brain is good for thinking and thus for us a situation of analysis-paralysis. Nothing happens.
The five-minute rule is the enemy of procrastination.
So how do we trick the brain into avoiding postponing anything that does not have an immediate reward?
Yes, by making sure the reward is immediate. Lower the requirements. It sounds easy and it is. Let me explain: As mentioned, writing a book is a long-term affair. Many have had both ideas, plots, and a strong desire to write a book, of which there has never been any. Or train up to the summer body. This can take months, not to mention years.
What if you lower the threshold for what you are going to do down to a level that takes you to do what you are going to do in five minutes. Let’s say you set a clock and count down from five minutes. During these five minutes, write only the titles of the book you want to write. Or you should write a few sentences about the plot or write down ideas.
When those five minutes are over, you can do something else. Try it! Promise your brain to do something for five minutes – and only that. What you are going to do in these five minutes is therefore a limited task (Preferably pleasurable)
The result is that you have started writing your book. You have started your training. And often you see that these five minutes extend much further than five minutes. Because you get absorbed in work.
The solution is simple. Ask yourself the question. What is easiest to start with? Write a book that will take you two years to complete, start training for a marathon or sit down to write 5 ideas for a plot in a book or put on a jacket and shoes and walk a few laps around the neighborhood.
The answer gives you why the five-minute rule works.
Of course, you never stop working just five minutes. The five-minute rules are the reason for the success of Instagram founder Kevin system. He says that:
If you do not want to do something, make a deal with yourself to do it for at least five minutes after five minutes you end up doing the whole thing.
The reason is that the five-minute rule tackles procrastination that its root. Flight-fight is not turned on because your brain does not see the action as a threat. The brain has no problem with hard work.
It has a problem with the idea of hard work. So why not fool yourself into thinking that writing a book is not a huge challenge? Start by writing a title or a plot. Or why start training for a marathon? Why not start with a walk, or a short run and then take it from there…?
In fact, it may turn out that the solution to millions of years of evolution is a clock that counts down from five minutes.