Implement the Five Minute Rule to Get Stuff Done in Your Life

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Set a timer... and go!

How many times have you been faced with a task that feels insurmountable? Perhaps it has no end in sight, or you don't know where to start, or it's just so darn unpleasant that you don't even want to begin. That is when the five-minute rule comes in handy.

This incredibly simple yet brilliant life hack comes from Trent Hamm of The Simple Dollar, one of my favorite finance-related blogs that also happens to brim with general wisdom. Hamm says that devoting a mere five minutes to a task results in things actually getting done and a personal sense of accomplishment. He writes,

"The idea is this: whenever there’s something you need to do that you really don’t want to do, agree to just do it for five minutes – literally setting a timer if you want – and then you can quit with no guilt afterwards. That’s it."

Whether it's cleaning the bathroom, practicing an instrument or new language, folding laundry, deleting emails, doing a quick ab workout or going for a run, picking up trash outside, doing online research, making a necessary phone call, starting on that book you've always dreamed of writing – no matter the size or type of project, putting in five minutes will always make you feel better.

And more times than not, that timer will go off and you'll probably want to continue. This has happened so many times with my guitar practice; I never want to start, but once I'm into it, it's hard to keep it under 45 minutes, and I'm always so glad I started. It's the same thing with exercise.

Even if the urge to keep going doesn't hit you, that's OK. You've put in some valuable time and can feel proud of that. Hamm says, "If I don’t [want to continue], I know I can quit with no guilt because I know I made just a little progress. It goes back on tomorrow’s to-do list."

Small increments of time go a long way, especially when executed with focus and consistency. Don't underestimate the power of five minutes.