The 5-Minute Productivity Breakthrough

by Brad Isaac on December 18, 2005

Do you have something you are putting off?

You might be putting off excercise.  You may be putting of writing a business plan.  Maybe it’s something else.  Whatever it is you are putting off can be achieved if you simply put 5 minutes toward achieving it.

I can almost hear a collective sigh.  "Only 5 minutes?  Brad, you’ve lost it this time." 

Have I?  Not really.  If I can get 5 minutes of solid, no-nonsense, best effort, you’ll get more done.

It works very much like Isaac Newton’s theory (cool first name by the way).  Newton’s law states an object in motion, tends to stay in motion unless acted on by some external force.  All we have to do is get ourselves in as much motion as possible for 5 easy minutes and the rest will take care of itself.  You can do 5 minutes can’t you?  Sure you can. 

Simply  tackle your chosen task for 5 minutes.  Set a timer and get to it for a full 5 minutes.  At the end of the time, decide if you’d like to continue.  If not, you’ve met your commitment.  You are free to stop.  However, more than likely, you will want to continue.  You’ll want to finish what you start.  Like Newton’s law, you will be in motion, so you will tend to want to stay in motion. 

One of the keys to this method is putting forth the very best effort for all 5 of those minutes.  No we aren’t allowed to go to the bathroom, eat or watch TV during those minutes.  Just focus for a full 5 minutes working on your task.

Here’s a real life example.  Your conscience is nagging you to get outside and get some excercise.  Your body is saying "I’m tired.  I don’t wanna!"  Your conscience keeps nagging, your body keeps pushing back.  By the way, this is what we call stress, but that discussion is for another day.  Anyway, you have a battle on your hands for sure. 

How do you deal with it?  Simple…Negotiate with yourself.  Say "Ok, I’ll take 5 minutes to get dressed and get outside and excercise my very best.  At the end of 5 minutes, I can quit.  I can easily do 5 minutes…anyone can!"

And think about it, who can’t do 5 minutes of anything?  You can do just about anything and do it well for 5 minutes if you put your mind to it.  Writing your first small business plan may seem quite overwhelming.  But what if you are just viewing it as a 5 minute task?  Suddenly, it seems like a small inconvenience to get started.  You work for a solid 5 using your very best energy and dedication and you will most likely find something about the process you like.  You will want to keep at it.  You will want to uncover more opportunities.  You will want to keep making progress.

Technorati Tags: Productivity, Achieve-IT!, Motivation

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Matt Anderson December 21, 2005 at 10:26 pm

Brad, you continue to post some simple ideas that are easy to blow off as not improtant. Action seems to be my biggest challenge and when I take it, things just happen. I need to come up with a way to put all of these in an easy to access, “Try this one Today” format.


Ryan Abrams January 12, 2006 at 3:44 pm

Great post! So simple, but so effective.

February 11, 2006 at 9:54 am

This is an excellent idea. I had used it a while ago (years…) after I first learned of it from either “Becoming a master student” (Book) or “Where there is a will, there’s an ‘A’” (Video).
I think I’ll go use it right now ;-)

February 18, 2006 at 11:22 am

I do this but I make it for 15-20 minutes and distractions are permissible, so it works about to about the same thing, e.g. I will clean house for 20 mins but during that time I can put the kettle on, check the time, have a drink, put the radio on.

Babysteps work. I don’t understand anybody who doesn’t use them.

February 18, 2006 at 11:49 am

If something is working for you then by all means use it and don’t change. :)

However, the power in the 5-minute method is you are building a fast and furious “push” during that time. The faster the ball rolls, the harder it is to stop it from rolling.

John M February 19, 2006 at 8:58 pm

Great article, although I think I just realized that the reverse is also true. When I tell my self I’m only going to spend 5 minutes to look something up online I get locked-in for hours!!

February 20, 2006 at 10:29 am

Yeah, I can do that too. Did you happen to see my post about 7 Ideas to Help Prevent Mindless Web surfing? There’s a utility linked you can download for free that blocks you from surfing once you cross the 5 minute limit.

February 23, 2006 at 3:40 pm

Thanks! This sounds like a good thing for me to try.

One interesting thing is that I’ve sort of been doing this already in a different way. Have you ever found yourself frozen? Like if you’re really tired and don’t want to get up, or you’re depressed and just can’t move.

If I ever find myself in the position, I just concentrate on moving a finger or a toe. Generally that is always possible and then you move all your fingers, your hand, your arm, and before you know it, you’re up! The whole process might take as little as 5 seconds or so, but the main thing is just building up the momentum..

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