You can do almost anything for 15 minutes at a time
I have started reading this book: The 15-minute rule- How to stop procrastinating and take control of your life book, by Caroline Buchanan. I must say that this book is amazing at least thus far. This is a very technical book, not in how it is written but due to the subject of the book, so If you are looking for a book that is written with poetic mastery, this is not for you. But if you realize that there are some aspects of your life that you aren’t mastering to the best of your potential, I urge you to grab this book and read it. Not all of it is for everyone, and that is the beauty of this book, that I think you can find the parts that apply mostly to you and concentrate on those.
So, what is the 15-minute rule? The idea behind this rule is that no matter what your task is you can do it for 15 minutes. Just fifteen minutes, that isn’t so long, right? After you get started you find momentum and then you can continue for another 15 min and so on. The catch here is that a huge reason for procrastinating is that we over think every task and make everything seem more daunting than it is, and 15 minutes gets us started. 15-minutes is enough to properly get the wheels turning and still not so much time that you would really have time to over think the task. Some ways to make the 15-minute rule even more effective were these:
Divide your 15 minutes into 3 parts:
1st 5 min: What is bothering your productivity the most right now? A messy desk? Clean it for 5 minutes.
2nd 5 min: Brain dump, everything you should be doing/have done (make sure to be able to find this paper/note later on)
3rd 5 min: Prepare for the next 15-minute session, take some snack with you, some tea and get started again.
Divide your 15-minutes into 3’s as well:
1st 15 min is about brainstorming and preparing for the work you are about to achieve.
2nd 15 min is about prioritizing what is essential in your project. If you have 15 calls to make, which ones are urgent?
3rd 15 min Start making the calls, or planning what you need to discuss in said calls.
Once you get started you will find it hard to stop. But you should stop. If you do not give yourself a pause after 15 minutes your brain will start to think of the 15-minute rule as a fake one, and you will have another reason to postpone your to-do’s. “It won’t actually be just 15 minutes, I’ll get stuck and I will do it for an hour, I don’t have an hour right now.”
One of the most important things is to also get to know yourself. Why do you procrastinate? For me the biggest reasons are these:
- I do not know where to start, and I am afraid that I am doing the wrong task. “Hey psst, you; brain, maybe you should actually be studying Spanish, not French.”
- “You won’t be able to do a good enough post anyway, never mind, maybe one day, when you know how to write better you can make a good blog post.” That would be me trying to reach perfection or being scared of failure.
- “What if you do become something, and then you become this snob, or the people who don’t like you will spread lies about you or something”: That would be the fear of success.
Done is better than perfect and the only failure is not trying.
What are some of your fears?
One of the most amazing points in this book is that to act on something you do not have to be motivated. For example; if you feel like going to the loo, no matter how lazy; uninspired you feel. At some point, you get up and go, because you must. So why not with the small, or big tasks in your life? Setting a timer for 15-minutes isn’t hard. And sitting on your butt for 15-minutes isn’t that bad either.
Procrastination is a habit. It is something that we have taught our brain to do, to achieve instant gratification. The 5 minutes we scroll Instagram instead of writing a blog post, doing school work, calling that client; is instant gratification. We get to do something “fun” and forget our responsibilities. This is something that Charles Duhigg talks about in the Tony Robbins podcast the #1 secret to productivity. You should really listen to the podcast if you are interested in the psychology behind habits and changing them.
“If you keep doing what you keep doing, you keep getting what you keep getting.”
The sad fact of today’s society is that we are trying to achieve goals right away and we want to see results right now. That is why social media appeals to us, because we get new interesting stimuli all the time. Just scroll down the Instagram feed and you will see something pretty and flashy every 3 seconds. But this has led to the fact that procrastination is now more common that ever up to 85% of us procrastinate daily (according to the research company: ICD). This is a humongous issue, because procrastination is proven to cause health issues; unhappiness, weight gain and causes us to become poorer. Is that really the way we want to live our lives?
So I urge you, if you notice the signs of procrastination in you, read this book, and apply the 15 minute rule into your life.
“It is our attitude at eh beginning of a difficult task, which, more than anything else, will affect its successful outcome.” – William James, psychologist.
If you are interested in the podcast with Charles Duhigg it is to be found on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/episode/4VPoQAb8a9kzYUQallhoKQ
Thanks for reading!