My 5 Minute Procrastination Hack!

posted by Andrea | 05/31/2019

Procrastination is something that affects ALL of us at some point in our lives — often, at many points in our lives! Yes, some struggle with it more than others, but it affects us all from time to time.

Although I do try to stay on-top of my home, family, and business responsibilities, I’ve noticed that the easiest times for me to procrastinate are when I have one larger project or to-do looming over my head.

Quick, little projects are easy for me to “do it now” and be done — it’s the bigger, longer, more time-consuming projects I often want to put off until “later” (without a clear definition of when “later” will be).

Can anyone relate?

One VERY simple (and very effective) way I have helped myself reduce procrastination on these larger projects and to-dos is to “trick” myself to JUST GET STARTED.

I know from years of experience that getting started is almost always the most difficult and most overwhelming part of the project for most people, and I figure if I can at least get myself to start on my project, it will be much easier for me to continue working on it from there on out.

So I challenge myself to do 5 minutes!

If I’m procrastinating on pulling weeds, writing a blog post, making my menu plan, folding laundry, cleaning a bathroom, responding to an email, or any other number of tasks, I set a timer for 5 minutes and tell myself to just do as much as I can in those 5 minutes.

After all, there aren’t many times in my life when I cannot spare even 5 minutes of time.

And you know what… it’s amazing what I often accomplish! 

  • I might not clear all the weeds, but I can easily weed a large section of one of our planting beds
  • I might not be able to write an entire blog post, but I can flesh out my ideas or edit a few pictures
  • I can usually make a full-week’s menu plan in 5 minutes
  • I can often fold one entire clothes basket in 5 minutes
  • I can wipe down the counters, sinks, and toilet with the disinfectant wipes I keep in each bathroom
  • I can respond to several emails

Of course, it’s great to cross a few things off my list, but the real beauty of tricking myself into getting started is that once I start, I’ve crossed the psychological barrier that so often prevents me from getting started, and the task at hand instantly seems less overwhelming.

Plus, it’s so much easier to KEEP going once I’ve started!

Yes, there are times when I do actually stop after my 5 minutes is up; but there are plenty of other times when my 5 minutes motivates me to do 10, 20, or even 30 minutes more — and before I know it, my planting beds are weed-free, my blog post is written, the laundry is folded, my home is clean, and my to-do list seems much less overwhelming.

All because I just got started!

What can you do in 5 minutes?

Often… more than you think!

Sometimes… just a few things.

ALWAYS… more than you would have if you put it off until later! 🙂

I realize this idea sounds rather juvenile (yes, it totally works with kids too) but I promise it has so much potential!

If you can convince yourself to just get started, you’re usually past the hardest part!

What are the easiest projects for you to procrastinate on?

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13 comments

  1. Ann

    06/10/2019

    This is so true! I told myself to work on weeding, edging the flower bed JUST 30 minutes! After 2 days, it’s done & looks beautiful!! So glad it’s done!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yay — good for you!

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  2. Julia

    06/03/2019

    This has been such a helpful hack! I read it on your site a while back and it’s worked just great for me every time I’ve tried it. Particularly helpful for things I get over-ambitious or perfectionistic about. And also definitely true that I often end up doing more than I’d planned. Thanks so much for such practical advice!

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    Julie Reply:

    This has been such a helpful hack! I read it on your site a while back and it’s worked just great for me every time I’ve tried it. Particularly helpful for things I get over-ambitious or perfectionistic about. And also definitely true that I often end up doing more than I’d planned. Thanks so much for such practical advice!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    you’re welcome — practical advice is my specialty 🙂
    (and yes, I can remove your last name!)

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  3. Rhonda

    05/31/2019

    Oh yes, I definitely avoid larger projects by finishing quicker tasks. I’m constantly busy, but the bigger tasks almost never get done first. The bigger tasks often get moved forward week after week in my personal planner. I’ve had “estate/trust planning” on my to do list about 2 (maybe 3) years. But, that kind of activity requires time commitment by two people…I finally got it rolling in April, and we should be wrapped up by July. I have the same very important info binder that you shared on the blog, and the lawyer we met with was VERY impressed!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I’m always one to finish ALL the small projects before diving into the bigger one because I like seeing so many smaller things crossed off my list! But then I run out of time for the bigger project and put it off until later!

    I try to break the bigger projects down into small parts so I can do various smaller parts of the project when I have the time.

    Also, glad to hear you have the binder in place (good for you!) You will not regret the time you spent putting that together!

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  4. Holly

    05/31/2019

    This trick works for my kids. When I’m wanting them to do something (clean up or straighten their room, etc) we set a quick 5 or 10 minute timer and make it a game to beat the timer! Works every time.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, definitley a good “trick” for motivating kids too!!

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  5. Barbara

    05/31/2019

    This has worked for me so many times. Also I’ll often get out ahead of time all of the ingredients or cleaning supplies or whatever is needed for a job that I’m procrastinating on, and let them set until it’s time to do the job… Then for some reason it doesn’t seem as daunting when the time comes to actually do it

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    Andrea Reply:

    YES!! I do this all the time. If I’m going to be baking in the morning, I set out all the ingredients the night before so I have no excuse not to get started in the morning!

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  6. Bev Fox

    05/31/2019

    I use this method also to tackle jobs I don’t want to do. It is very effective! Giving yourself permission to stop after a short time takes the pressure off and yes, I usually continue on!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, there’s not need to do one project from start to finish (although that might be the preferred way, it’s often not possible). little bits at a time can still give you the same end results!

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