Start with 5 Minutes

How to take the first step when it comes to starting a big task

Are you having trouble starting a task even if it’s really important?

It’s ok, you are not the only one.

Postponing things is very common, and it may seem okay to procrastinate because putting things off helps avoiding unpleasant or difficult tasks (at least in the short-term).

However, the issue is that most of the time we are putting off important tasks until they become urgent (like studying the night before an exam, or not starting on a work assignment that has been sitting on your desk for weeks until just before the deadline) and we do them at the very last minute becoming:

  • worried
  • stressed
  • overwhelmed by the pressure

Ending up doing a poor quality job, and not projecting to others the image of ourselves that we want.

If procrastination is an enemy of our productivity, why do we still embrace it and allow it to steal our time?

Procrastination is built on the irrational fear of failure: you irrationally think that your task will have a negative outcome, and the fear of failure, or the fear of being criticised, unconsciously stresses your mind and you end up not even starting it.

So, starting an important task is the toughest step to take, and a great technique that helps me take that first step and get started with something I was putting off is the 5 minute rule:

Commit yourself to doing 5 minutes of whatever you are putting off.

  • It can be starting with brainstorming ideas for that work project (you don’t have to do the entire project today);
  • Finding the number of that client you have to phone up;
  • Deciding the destination for your family holiday (instead of planning the entire trip altogether)

The 5 minutes rule works because you are not committing to doing the entire task today, you are just doing 5 minutes of it, and you will find that by going ahead and starting that task your confidence will increase little by little; you will also find that it was not as bad as you thought it was, and you might even end up finishing the entire thing!

Credit: Photo by Kampus Production from Pexels