Are you a big procrastinator? You hate doing it, but you do it! You wait until the very last second or don’t act at all.
Or maybe your situation is not that drastic?
You’re not a big procrastinator, but sometimes you avoid doing something if it takes you out of your comfort zone. Even though, you know multiple productivity strategies, you delay the actions as much as you can. However, after you push yourself to complete the task, you realized that it was easier than you previously thought.
How Can You Beat That?
In this post, you’ll learn Mel Robbins’ one simple action to develop the courage to overcome chronic procrastination even if you don’t feel like it; transform your personal and professional life, and obtain the confidence that comes afterward.
Free Kindle book preview: at the end of this post, you can read a sample of this book.
Let’s get started, do you wonder:
Why Do We Procrastinate?
Nowadays, it’s easy to blame social media to procrastinate, but research about what causes procrastination has been around for decades, long before the Internet. According to Oxford Dictionaries, the word procrastinate has been used “since the late 16th century, when the verb first came into English via the Latin prōcrāstināre.”
Even though procrastination is first link to time management and/or productivity, it also affects health1 and relationships. Surprisingly, a procrastinator is not attached to failure, as chronic procrastinators can be successful in business/studies2, however, if you neglect to act when it’s needed, and it troubles your health and/or relationships; you have to reconsider your definition of success.
Here’s the problem:
Fear causes the habit to procrastinate. Moreover, according to Jane Burka, PhD, we procrastinate because of:
- Fear of failure,
- Fear of success,
- Fear of feeling controlled,
- Fear of separation,
- Fear of attachment.
Jane Burka, PhD, proposes tactics such as setting a specific and concrete goal, divide this goal into small activities, and start action with a first step of 15 min, and finally, don’t delay feeling good until accomplishing the goal, instead, recognize every step as a success.
Jane Burka, PhD, emphasizes these strategies work if you use them. Probably, you already know productivity tools such as to-do lists that never get done, etc. Furthermore, sometimes people confuse busyness with beating procrastination, and having a to-do list of unimportant tasks make you seem that you have come a long way to stop procrastinating, when it’s not, but it’s a beginning.
A word of caution:
If you suffer for severe procrastination anxiety ask for help among family and friends, also, professional advice is available, you are not alone.
So, without further ado.
How to Stop Procrastinating || The 5 Second Rule
The 5 second rule is a simple but powerful tool to push yourself “out of your head and into action.” Robbins calls it a “heart-first decision.”
The origin of the 5 second rule is to resemble a rocket launch countdown.
Here is the point:
The moment you caught yourself over-thinking something you’ll love the results, but not the work you have to put in order to achieve it; you count 5,4,3,2,1 and act.
When you’ve an idea you’ll love to accomplish, and in your heart, you feel it’s good for you, but your brain starts making up excuses to stop you, and lead you to dismiss the idea; an idea that will hunt you for years until you act. Instead on second guessing, you count 5,4,3,2,1 and go! Focus on the first step and work on it for 15 min.
You can personalize the technique. Basically, you can accommodate this tactic the best way to work for you, for example, you can start the countdown from 3 instead of 5; sometimes I don’t even count, I get the hunch and go for it, and I’ve never regretted it. Otherwise, when you second guess, and listen to your excuses, you get distracted, and the moment is gone.
Here are a few concrete examples to use the 5 second rule:
Health: Choose a simple action today to improve your health, 5,4,3,2,1 add more veggies to your next meal, go for a 10 min walk or look for professional advice. Whatever you do, get documented; plenty of information is available, and sometimes contradictory.
Work/Studies: Check a project you have been postponing, 5,4,3,2,1 take action: divide the project into small tasks. Afterward, 5,4,3,2,1, go for the first task for 15 min. Do it.
Organizing: Do you have a messy room? After you wake up make your bed 5,4,3,2,1, make your bed.
It sounds simple, and it is.
Anything you have been postponing count 5,4,3,2,1 and do something, initially, small gestures count.
Why The 5 Second Rule Works?
To change a discordant habit you have to substitute it for a harmonious one. However, the dysfunctional habit will put a fight to stay; your brain will play as many tricks as it can to keep the behavior.
The brain doesn’t know it’s good or bad; its work is to make it a habit. Moreover, the heart is the one that says if it’s discordant or harmonious. After all, if someone is mean to you, you call them heartless no brainless. Nevertheless, it’s how the brain works, and with good habits, the brain runs smoothly.
According to Mel Robbins, the 5 second rule is “a starting ritual that activates the brain prefrontal cortex, helping to change your behavior.” Like this idea? Click here to tweet it.
Robbins explains the prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain leading our focus, ability to change or take deliberate actions.
The good news is:
As you repeat the 5 second rule you overwrite that pattern in the brain you want to get right off, and the new habit establishes.
As Jane Burka states that if procrastination causes problems, it reflects a psychological issue to work on. Sometimes, it’s difficult to work by yourself and professional help is necessary.
If your procrastination is not that complicated, check these activities to go deeper in your soul search, even though, it will be uncomfortable, it can’t hurt more than already does. Such as:
Now you are ready to use the 5 second rule to start digging deeper into was the real reason why you are procrastinating that you are not aware of it anymore.
To Sum Up:
Procrastination is a habit you are aware of even though you forgot what created it now. Consequently, being proactive is a habit, too. To overrule one habit for the other you have to face whatever it’s the fear ingrain in your subconscious mind, and that takes courage.
A procrastination cure is available to overcome the waste of time and resources, get things done, boost your productivity, and develop courage and confidence: the 5 second rule.
The moment you realize you are making excuses and over-thinking something you’ll love the results, but not the effort, and activities you have to put in order to achieve it; you count 5,4,3,2,1 and act.
To reinforce the habit, it helps to watch Mel Robbins videos on Youtube, follow her on twitter, check her website or read her book. Also, use the 5 second rule to dig deeper into the causes of your procrastination with other techniques such as meditation or journaling.
Finally, Mel Robbins acknowledge “when your heart speaks, honor it, 5-4-3-2-1- and move.”
You can honor your heart’s desires, too. The choice is yours.
Do you remember a dear one that will benefit from this technique? Share this information with them.
Author Mel Robbins
The 5 Second Rule: Transform Your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage
Published by Savio Republic (February 28, 2017)
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Free Kindle book preview (You can read a sample of this book with just one click – no need for you to sign in or install an app)
Sirois, F, Pychyl, T. (2016). Procrastination, Health, and Well-Being. Elsevier. ISBN 978-0128028629.1
Lamia, M. (2017). What Motivates Getting Things Done. Rowman&Litlefield. ISBN 978-1442203822.2
Burka, J, Yuen, L. (2008). Procrastination: Why You Do It, What to Do About It Now. Da Capo Press. ISBN 978-0738211701.