Inertia And The 5 Minutes Rule

I've read all the self-help books about habit creation, procrastination, and mindfulness. If you haven't, you don't need to. Here's the only thing I'd care to share: the 5 minutes rule. It comes from Kevin Systrom, CEO of Instagram. But it's not a novel idea.

If you don’t want to do something, make a deal with yourself to do at least five minutes of it. After five minutes, you’ll end up doing the whole thing.

5 minutes is usually what it takes to go from dreading doing something to loving doing it.

I use that in meetings. I'm an introvert so I don't love meeting new people. I always make a deal with myself that in 5 minutes I'll feel cool about it.

I use that in presentations. Again, I don't love to speak out loud in front of people. But after 5 minutes, I get caught in the game and start to enjoy it.

I use that for deep work. When I have a big research/writing project to do, I open a Google Doc and try to put a few things in there to get the engine going. After that, the inertia keeps me going. Inertia is useful and works for you.

Inertia is defined as the tendency of objects to keep moving in a straight line at a constant velocity.

This works well for daily tasks. But I don't think it applies well to bigger things in life. I think there should be a 5-week rule for new relationships, a 5-month rule for new jobs and a 5-year rule for tougher, longer-term projects. Start by doing it, and re-assess if you still dread it after that. You might catch yourself liking weird-tough stuff such as going to school, working, exercising or practicing piano.

p.s. the 5 minutes rule is the only way I can write these blog posts every day!