Do you have five minutes?

Do you have five minutes?

I’d been lying awake for a while, waiting for the alarm to ring. When it did, I gave it a five minute snooze. And I slept off. Till I was awakened with a start by the second alarm. That five-minute nap seems so much longer because it is the deepest most peaceful of all.

Another day I had to make a start on an assignment I was not looking forward to, and my laptop beckoned alluringly. ‘Five minutes’ I told myself, ‘I’ll check FB/Twitter for five minutes.’ Lo and behold before I knew it, an hour had flown by!

Five minutes is a truly miraculous time-span, able to stretch and shrink at will or so it would seem. It never really is ‘five minutes’ as your clock tells you.

As a mom to twin almost-teens ‘Five minutes, please’ ranges right up there in the list of most annoying statements ever along with ‘Chill mom’ and ‘Sup mom’.

And then quite by accident I stumbled upon the the five-minute rule to beat procrastination. Yup the same five minutes that I thought were a procrastinator’s BFF can be used to beat it.

It was Instagram Founder Kevin Systrom’s who came up with this idea. Here’s how it works: When you come across a task you dislike or think of as too tough to handle (managing laundry for me, cleaning the room for the kids) all you do is tell yourself you have to do it for just five minutes.

Two things may happen – you might do it for five minutes and stop, in which case you would have at least made a start. Also, you’ll realise how much you really can do in five minutes.

However, chances are you’re going to continue doing the task for much longer, maybe even to completion.

The thing is, a task looks insurmountable only till you don’t dig into it. Once there, it often isn’t as hard as you imagined and you tend to keep going at it.

We’re changing houses this summer and that means lots of decluttering, of opening drawers never opened before and taking down books and knick-knacks I am not even sure what to do with. I am tempted to pack everything up and take it along, while also realising that this is the best decluttering opportunity I’ll ever have. The five-minute-rule has helped me get a grip on things.

I tried it. It works.

12 Replies to “Do you have five minutes?”

  1. I don’t remember where I read it (as in which self help book) but I had come across this 5 minute rule a few years back, and it does work!! 100%

    I personally use it to exercise. That’s where I find it most effective (for myself). Because you see, I actually like cleaning/organizing etc, so I am more prone to doing those things while procrastinating on exercise. 😀
    Shantala recently put up this amazing post…There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon | Book ReviewMy Profile

  2. Lovely post, Tulika! You know I’ve done this quite unconsciously in the past for finishing chores so I can sit down to work in the weekday mornings and it works brilliantly! My advice to my son to follow this 5-minute rule doesn’t seem to work because teenagers have their own ways of dealing with a nagging mom. In short, it falls on deaf ears.

  3. Completely agree with this – it’s something that helps develop a writing habit too. Just sit down for 5 minutes {or 15} and you’ll be surprised you might end up writing more or just do something for a little time. I must confess, life admin stuff bores the crap out of me and maybe I should apply this rule there too.
    Sanch @ Sanch Writes recently put up this amazing post…Oh the humanityMy Profile

  4. You know, Tulika, uncanny as it is I do exactly the same. I really don’t like folding laundry or tidying up and it is often at the end of my list of to-dos. So what I do is that I tell myself that I will only fold clothes for 5 minutes — mine and husband’s that is. The kids are folding clothes themselves since that Marie Kondo exercise. And it is so much easier to fold clothes because I do manage in 5 minutes. Cleaning in 5 or 10 minute intervals really works as that stops me from feeling bored. So yes, this technique does work!
    Rachna Parmar recently put up this amazing post…Vegetable Pulao Recipe | How to Make Veg PulaoMy Profile

    1. That’s the thing – many times simple techniques work well.
      PS: I have to add I’m amazed at how you’ve gotten your children to help with the chores.

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