The Five-Minute Rule

The first five minutes are the hardest.

To prove it, I just set a timer for five minutes.

You see, I’ve been thinking about this article all day.

Yet, despite all the mental preparation I’ve done for what needs to be written, now that I’ve sat down to do the work, I’m very disappointed to discover that it’s still not writing iteslf.

So, as I said, I set my timer.

Five minutes.

I can muscle through.

Write anything and everything I want. Just keep writing for five minutes until I find a flow.

By the time my five minutes is up, the writing won’t be so hard. And then I’ll have the momentum I need to finish out the whole article.

You’re smart. And I bet you’ve figured out by now that the Five Minute Rule goes for so much more than writing.

Those five minutes it takes to crawl out of bed and into the car to drive to the gym…

The first five minutes of brainstorming for a new project…

The first five minutes of a new logo design…

You get the idea.

Any time we’re sitting down to focus on something other than the television, it takes time to warm-up to the task.

This warm-up time is also known as “activation energy”.

Activation Energy refers to the energy required to start a new task. Which, for the record, is always more than the energy required to maintain that task once we’re in the zone.

It’s not unlike sending a rocket up to the moon.

That rocket burns tons and tons of fuel just to get itself into orbit. But then, once that momentum is established, the amount of energy needed to stay on course is a fraction of what it took to get off the ground.

(And there’s my timer… Let’s keep going.)

What if you could set things up in advance so that you didn’t have to expend so much energy to get started?

If we know that the first five minutes are the most challenging, then the smart thing is to make those first few minutes a little less challenging.

You do this by reducing the activation energy.

Which is a nerdy, science-y way of saying:

Do something today that will make life easier later.

It’s right in line with the advice of my sweet and wise grandmother. “Don’t put off to tomorrow what you can do today,” she said.

My friends, this is also my single most important piece of advice to those of you wanting to get more control of your time and attention.

If you can get ahold of that concept then it will help you to be more proactive.

It will help you build up your personal integrity.

And it will make your day-to-day life’s work that much easier because you’re building your own momentum.

What is something you can do today that will make your life easier in the future?

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P.S. Just a quick reminder that my class on time management is now available on demand.

The Five-Minute Rule