“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.” Paul J. Meyer
The modern world offers several activities that make people busy. With the humdrum of busy schedules, people find themselves tangled with competing priorities. Faced with such situations, people tend to procrastinate—particularly when physical, emotional or intellectual energies are at stake. Procrastination, however, is not just about shuffling priorities. There are times when the situation can become emphatically draining that eventually affects your relationships, careers and quality of life. This condition can become so unhealthy.
Procrastination can become a habit. So to avoid it, when it gets into your system, you have to struggle to get it off. You would rather cheat yourself thru mind games to force your body to finish what you need to get done. Unfortunately, striving hard pushes you to even procrastinate more.
The saddest scenario in procrastinating is you feel that something is stopping you to become productive. Although you have tried to fight it, not a single thing seems to be helpful. Procrastination becomes even worse because you get disappointed for not doing what you need to do, so you blame yourself and feel sorry about it.
Understanding the 5-Second Rule
“You may delay, but time will not, and lost time is never found again.” Benjamin Franklin
What is your reason for delaying things causing you to become unproductive? And how can you break this unhealthy habit of procrastination? How would you beat it? Well, you can snap off procrastination with this 5-second rule which is a clear and an extremely simple rule.
Just try to visualize this situation. While sitting on the edge of the sea and feeling the sea breeze, a drowning child caught your attention. You looked around and realized that you are the only person in the beach. What makes it even more difficult is you’re not aware of how deep the water is. You are left with two options: 1) help the child, or 2) call for help. Should you delay with your actions or should you run and get the child out of the water? Well, you definitely would choose to save the child, wouldn’t you?
Impulse should drive you to save the child from drowning. Decisions, driven by impulse, are deeply rooted from a systematic study of structure and behavior. Antonio Damasio, a neuroscientist, stated that emotional decision-making is equally important like analytical and rational decision-making. A part of your brain is responsible for your gut response. Once this area together with feelings of reward and punishment is damaged, you cannot decide even in simple situations or issues.
Saving a drowning child is a simple decision. The fast thinking area of your brain made you act on impulse. Known as gut, it is an evolution process that helps us think much faster.
So to get rid of procrastination and become productive, you need to trigger this area of your brain. A stressed prefrontal cortex will make you feel down and that is where procrastination occurs.
The funny thing about putting off things is that your rational brain becomes active and works hard to accomplish the task when you have little time left to finish things. The question is, can you beat the deadline?
Getting your gut active before reaching deadline is the secret to keeping going. This is where you need to apply the 5-second rule.
1. Admit you are stressed.
Stop analyzing and accept that whatever it is, your feeling isn’t the lack of ability, or defect, or fault, but a natural reaction to stress. It is natural and it drives your decision-making. Once you have admitted to being stressed, the pressure will slowly diminish. Your prefrontal cortex will then be able to act and think better in making the next decision.
2. Generate a 5-second decision that is not stress-related.
You call this state as a decision of courage. Deciding with courage does not involve your brain. You decide by listening to what your heart says and this is what happens when you save the drowning child.
Instead of rationalizing the stress thru thinking, ask how you can deal with the situation. Decide and do what you fear most in the next five minutes. Oppose stress. If you fear writing, decide to write whatever you want to write for the next five minutes. If you are afraid to answer that phone call, pick up the phone and answer it. It may end up muddled, nonsense, but it may be excellent. Allocating 5 minutes to do that 5-second decision will help you break procrastination and proving that you can handle stress.
Five seconds is essential in stimulating the fast acting area of your brain and in limiting the effect of the slow acting part of your brain. Make sure not to go beyond the 5 seconds. Decide and act within that span of time!
It may seem simple. Changing what you have been accustomed to doing can be quite a challenge. Right, it takes time to form a new habit. Do not utilize the 5 seconds to decide on something and spend the next 5 hours for analysis. Keep in mind – stimulate and act!
The 5-Second Rule is not a cure-all approach. However, realizing that procrastination is a natural stress response and knowing that it takes only 5 seconds to make a decision, it’s a great way to beat procrastinating and start doing things immediately.