We tend to procrastinate at the start of a project either because of fear or uncertainty (or some combination of the two). In order to overcome the daunting or unclear start of any project, Andrea Bonior recommends we give ourselves a five-minutes rule for getting started. The catch is that you can’t work for more than five minutes. On Psychology Today Bonior writes:
You pick the task you want to work on, and you vow to work on it for five minutes, and five minutes only. Yes, you must stop after just five minutes….the biggest magic of the five-minute rule comes from the fact that often, for procrastinators, starting is the hardest part. We’re scared of the big, amorphous blob of a task precisely because it IS so big and ill-defined, and because we worry that it will take two hours or two days to get to the bottom of it….And—here is another reason why the rule is so great—it will make you much more likely to come back to that task when you try for another five minutes (or perhaps you allow yourself 10 or 20) in the next day or so.
How you spend those first five minutes doesn’t necessarily matter, it’s the ability to get into the work that you should be focused on. You could spend your five minutes outlining what you need to do or starting the grunt work. Five minutes, as Bonior explains, is enough time to get momentum going without feeling overwhelmed or stressed.
Breaking your tasks into small, five-minute chunks is a great way to start even the most daunting project. And because it’s only five minutes, you’ve got no real excuse not to at least try it out. Who doesn’t have five minutes to spend?
Read Bonior’s full exploration of the five-minute exercise for getting over procrastination on Psychology Today.