Why The ‘5 Second Rule’ Will End Your Procrastination for Good, According to Science

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Beat procrastination and improve your life in just 5 seconds with this science-backed trick.

You’re tied up with deadlines, meetings, commitments, targets, and everything else that makes your life difficult. But here you are, struck with indecision and contemplating how to approach your giant to-do list as if you have the all the time in the world.

Sound familiar? Like everyone else, you are under the familiar spell called ‘procrastination.’

Without noticing it, procrastination makes use accomplish less and less. It also slows down your progress as you gradually spend more time fraught with indecision and experiencing brain fog.

According to the book “The 5 Second Rule” by best-selling author and CNN reporter Mel Robbins, there is a simple rule that can help you stop procrastination in its tracks.

The rule is simple: The moment you have an instinct to act on a goal you must act on in it immediately (or within five seconds) — otherwise your brain will start leaning towards procrastination.

This technique lets your brain eliminate doubts, fears, and emotions that hinder you from performing. Once you start using the rule correctly, those five seconds can become 5 minutes, 5 hours, 5 days, up until you finish your tasks.

In case you’re rolling your eyes at the simplicity of this rule, there’s some solid scientific reasoning behind it:

No-brainer decisions, like jumping in a pool to rescue a drowning child, are driven by a very fast-thinking part of the brain (known as the prefrontal cortex). When you jump in to save a theoretical child in need, you’re driven by that emotional part of your brain — and you don’t spend time analyzing how deep the water is, how to best approach the rescue, etc.

Most tasks, however, utilize rational parts of our brain. Unfortunately, these are the same parts of our minds that helped us avoid danger in primitive times. As a result, we approach an Excel spreadsheet the same way we foraged for food as cavemen — by looking at all the possible dangers behind it, and constantly analyzing the best approach. It’s a slow and inefficient process that causes procrastination, and stress only makes it worse.

The key here is to end the indecision cycle by to activating the proper parts of your brain.

While you cannot immediately flush out procrastination out of your system, you can start by conditioning your mind into focusing on what is important and knowing that you can do it (or at least take a crack at it) during the 5-second window.

Here are some tips on using this trick to teach your mind to prioritize tasks that are essential to your long-term goals:

Savor the discomfort

That first action may hurt (emotionally speaking) because let us admit it, it’s something that you don’t want to do or have been avoiding because of stress.

Remind yourself that with every great accomplishment, there should be sacrifice and hard work involved. You will never have a taste of success if you have not experienced leaving your comfort zone. It is like a pattern that you should familiarize yourself with. After overcoming the hard part, the rewards are greater.

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