The 5-Second, 5-Minute Rule

Some time ago I was fortunate to hear Mel Robbins speak at an event in Columbus, Ohio, USA. Robbins is the author of The 5-Second Rule, a book about taking action, quickly.

Says Mel:

5-4-3-2-1 helped me close the gap between thinking and doing. And by just taking action, my confidence grew.

The 5-second rule works.

Action, even the smallest action, creates energy, and energy creates momentum, and momentum can take you anywhere.

A little while ago, I was attending a cognitive behavioral therapy session with Rosario Nolan, a gifted therapist in Ireland who specialises in cognitive behavioral psychotherapy.

We were talking about the too-often occasions in recent times where I’ve, in effect, lost full days. When the list of tasks became too overwhelming. When even the prospect of considering a list of tasks and picking just one to focus on was too daunting.

Rosario encouraged me to try something.

A 5-minute prompt.

Whatever it was that was daunting me — taking on the biggest task (or, as Mark Twain described it, eating a frog), or even thinking about a list of tasks, or just sitting down at my desk — Rosario encouraged me to commit to just five minutes.

If on that day, my mental state proved to be so fragile that after five minutes I still could not face whatever it is that I felt I needed to face, then I had permission to opt out.

I had committed to five minutes, and that was enough for today.

What happened in practice, of course, was that after a minute or two or three, the thing usually ceased to resemble the big under-the-bridge troll that my mind had built it up to be.

Typically, the five-minute prompt was enough to heave the boulder from its stationary position and get it inching downhill, where it could generate its own momentum.

I’ve decided that these two rules could work fantastically well together.

The 5-Second, 5-Minute Rule.

A 5-second countdown to get moving.

A 5-minute commitment to eating the frog.

And then just see what happens.

(What could happen is that they become the most important five minutes and five seconds of your day. It often works out that way for me…)