Stop Procrastination in 5 Seconds – Just Do It

We’ve all been there: You’ve got a confident rhythm flipping burgers on the BBQ and you get a little too fancy and flip one off the BBQ, on to the ground. You look to see that nobody’s watching and…

That’s when the original “5 Second Rule” saves the day. While the jury is still out on the benefits of picking up food quickly, another kind of 5 Second Rule can be much more important to saving your bacon in the long run. Here’s the deal:

Change your life 5 seconds at a time

According to Mel Robbins’ book “The 5 Second Rule,” you have 5 seconds to do something that is good for you before your mind stops you from doing it. Simple!

Many of my male patients tell me that pornography is one of the worst forms of wasting time. One guy said that if he devoted half the time he spent on porn to other things, he’d be fluent in 6 languages and have his own Llama farm.

Many times a day, we are faced with choices that we know are good for us: walk vs. drive, gym vs pub, nice person vs psycho, but often don’t take the option that is best for us. The 5 second rule gets us back on track. Let’s say you have the impulse to get on the floor and do some push-ups. You have 5 seconds to “Just Do It,” as Nike would say, or your mind will use even the slightest hesitation as all the reason it needs to stop you.

The 5 Second Rule in 4 easy steps

  1. You have the impulse to do something that’s good for you: taking the stairs instead of the elevator, swapping fatty french fries for crunchy salad, drinking refreshing water instead of sugary cola, reducing stress by taking a few deep breaths, or butting out a freshly lit cigarette. The list of easy, healthy steps you can take goes on for WAY longer than 5 seconds!
  2. Hold the good option firmly in your mind and count “5, 4, 3, 2, 1, GO”. It must be a countdown. “1, 2, 3, 4, 5” doesn’t work.
  3. Move. I tap my chest twice with my fist or slap my thigh, but any movement at all will initiate the movement you need to accomplish your goal.
  4. Just DO it.

The 5 Second Rule: why it works

The 5 Second Rule allows you to start making healthy changes to your life by overcoming procrastination that is built into your brain. Research shows that whatever we’re doing we tend to continue doing, and whatever we’re not doing we tend to continue not doing. That’s why habits become habits, and why habits can be so hard to break. At the same time, this inertia prevents us from dropping unhealthy or unproductive habits. You can use “5, 4, 3, 2, 1, GO” to move away from the porn, or any compulsive time waster.

Right now, doctor’s orders

Time to train your brain to finish vs freeze, or in other words, stop procrastinating. When you see that person by the water fountain who you’ve wanted to ask out, count “5, 4, 3, 2, 1, GO” and make a move to talk to them. Just DO it. When you hesitate when you’re asked “fries or salad?” or when you’re waiting for the elevator right next to the stairs, count “5, 4, 3, 2, 1, GO” and move to make the healthy choice, and Just DO it — The salad! The stairs! — before your brain freezes you into a bad choice.

What about the burger on the floor, and the psycho? “5, 4, 3, 2, 1, GO” and eat the first one and avoid the second. If you consistently use the 5 Second Rule you will be training a more confident and decisive brain.

Source: Mel Robbins, The Five Elements of The Five Second Rule

About the Author

Russell Kennedy, MD

Russell Kennedy, MD

Dr Russell Kennedy aka "The Anxiety MD" is a medical doctor and neuroscientist who focuses on using brain science to help people rise above anxiety and emotional overwhelm. A recovered burned out stress case himself, his passion lies in showing ways of living life with more true feeling and less false thinking. For more than 10 years, Russ was a doctor by day and pro stand-up comedian by night. He knows about stress, he once had to do a stand-up gig at a funeral. (no joke) Dr Russ will show you new ways of processing so you will be able to SEE your stress, so you don't have to BE your stress.

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Charleen Hendricks
November 14, 2019

Love your work