You know those times when you stare at a task, and all you can think is, ‘Ugh, I don’t want to do this…’.

We’ve all been there.

But, what if I told you there’s a handy little trick to give you a nudge in the right direction? Enter: the 5-minute rule.

The principle is delightfully simple. When faced with a task you’re dreading or putting off, commit to just 5 minutes of it. That’s right, only 300 seconds. Set a timer if you must and tell yourself: “I’ll do this for just 5 minutes, and then I can stop if I want.”

What this does is bypass that intimidating feeling of starting a mammoth task. And it makes the challenge bite-sized, digestible, and much less daunting.

The reason this works is because the 5-minute rule operates on a simple psychological principle: getting started is often the hardest part.

It’s like pushing a boulder — the initial shove takes a lot of effort, but once it starts rolling, it’s much easier to keep it moving. As Isaac Newton’s first law of motion states:

An object at rest remains at rest, and an object in motion remains in motion at constant speed and in a straight line unless acted on by an unbalanced force.

Image credit: James Clear

Our brain is excellent at blowing tasks out of proportion. But when we commit to just 5 minutes, it feels doable, less intimidating. Then, once we’re into it, our brain switches gears, and the momentum usually carries us past those initial 5 minutes.

In other words, once we’re in motion, we’re going to find it easier to keep going.

In his book “Atomic Habits“, James Clear emphasises the importance of taking the first step, even if it’s a tiny one. According to Clear, habits and tasks, once initiated, have a higher likelihood of being seen through. The 5-minute rule taps into this psychology. By reducing resistance to starting, it often happens that once the 5 minutes are up, you’re already in the flow, ready to continue well beyond your mini-commitment.

And the great thing about this rule is that it only takes 5 minutes to break any negative habits you might currently have.

As James Clear says: “Five minutes of exercise and you are back on the path. Five minutes of writing and the manuscript is moving forward again. Five minutes of conversation and the relationship is restored.”

It just takes 5 minutes.

So, the next time you find yourself delaying a task, just give it five minutes. You might be surprised by how much you can achieve once the wheels are in motion.

Quote of the Day

As long as we feel safely held in the hearts and minds of the people who love us, we will climb mountains and cross deserts and stay up all night to finish projects.
Bessel Van Der Kolk

Tool of the Day

📔 Evernote

Evernote has been a really popular resource for a number of years now which means that it’s a developed and trusted note-taking app. It’s packed full of different functions that enable you to consolidate your work in one place as well as categorise different subjects. One other useful feature is the ability to instantly (and easily) search for anything in your notes or files. This might seem simple but so often this is more difficult than it should be with these sorts of apps. Finally, it works across multiple devices which is always helpful and convenient as your information is always with you.