The Five Second Rule

Procrastination, the ugly monster that resides in the dark corners, only to emerge when there’s a task at hand. We’ve all been there, literally this was me today writing this blog post! Plot spoiler, I used the five second rule ; ).

When it comes to procrastination, a common stigma is, if you’re a procrastinator you’re either, lazy, have poor work ethic, or incompetent. What damages us the most, is when those things are being said too oneself. What if I told you that science PROVES procrastination isn’t a reflection of your work ethic, attitude or competence. Time for the worm hole!

Our bodies have many natural coping mechanisms for avoiding stressful situations. One of those of course is, procrastination. We can thank our ancestors for this behavior, it’s in our DNA. Imagine needing to go hunting, but knowing there’s a high chance of you getting eaten. You might not be in hurry to get out there, so you go into a cave and do a little drawing. Procrastination, we’re all born with it.

5 seconds can change a lot of things, including, whether or not food is still edible, the difference between first and second place, being 5 seconds ahead of an accident and unraveling years of a behavior that’s been engraved into our DNA.

The rule is simple: The moment you have an instinct to act on a goal you must act on in it immediately (or within five seconds) — otherwise your brain will start leaning towards procrastination.

Now here comes the science! Our brains are unique and spectacular! Our split second decisions, like running to save a dog out of a river, are driven by our prefrontal cortex. This is the central hub of our emotions and decision making. You don’t think of how deep the water is or the best approach to save the dog, you just do.

When it comes to our daily tasks and goals, we naturally will use our rational brains, and with that comes the fear and stress of thinking about all the bad things that could happen. Not only is this stress unnecessary but it also shuts down the prefrontal cortex, in other words, the time to act and get things done cortex. From the depths of the shadows, emerges procrastination. Being able to counteract this it is the best high you can ever experience. The feeling of taking action in a split second and not giving your mind the time to talk yourself out of it, it’s an adrenaline rush. No time to overthink, just doing!

“If you love what you do and are willing to do what it takes, it’s within your reach. And it’ll be worth every minute you spend alone at night, thinking and thinking about what it is you want to design or build.”

-Steve Wozniak, Co-Founder of Apple Inc.

I’ll leave you with some food for your soul. If you fail to act now, or in that 5-second window, you will remain the same person as you are yesterday, unless you do something about it.

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