One of the main reasons why people procrastinate is because they have no momentum. According to the laws of physics, when an object has no momentum (when it’s standing still), it requires a lot more force to get it into motion compared to keeping an object moving when it already has some momentum.
In other words, you need to start gaining momentum fast if you want to prevent procrastination from showing up. The longer you wait with taking action, the more effort and willpower required to get started.
When you’re already ‘in motion’, however, it requires a lot less force to keep being productive. That’s where the 15-Minute Rule comes in.
The 15-Minute Rule consists of three very simple steps. Its simplicity is precisely why it works so well. In my personal experience, the more complex a productivity technique or system, the less effective it is. Anyway, here are the three steps of the 15-Minute Rule:
That’s it. Simple right?
It might almost seem like it’s too simple. But again, it’s because of its simplicity that it works so well. Let me explain.
The 15-Minute Rule works so well because it makes the ‘getting in motion’ part easy. Getting started — which is the hardest part — becomes much less intimidating.
As soon as we go from standing still to moving, it requires a lot less force to keep going. We’ve overcome the hurdle that required the most effort and willpower — getting started. Now, procrastination is much less likely to kick in.
If your car has ever broken down by the side of the road and you needed to push it to a safer place, you know what I’m talking about.
The beginning is by far the hardest part. You need to push with all your strength and effort to get the car moving. But once you managed to do that, it’s not that hard to keep the car rolling forward. It requires a lot less energy and strength from your side.
That’s exactly how momentum works in your mind as well.
If you’re already taking some action — no matter how small — it’s much easier to keep on being productive. You’re past the hardest part, which was getting started. As you’re gaining momentum, you’re much less likely to stop.
The longer you’re standing still, however, the more willpower and mental strength required to get started. Procrastination grows stronger, and you’ll begin to talk yourself out of doing the work. It becomes harder and harder to get started. Before you know it, you find yourself lost in Netflix or social media.
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By using the 15-Minute Rule, the ‘getting started’ part becomes simple. Anyone can work for just 15 minutes, right? The bar is quite low, and it’s not that intimidating. It’s pretty doable to sit down and work for only 15 minutes.
The trick with the 15-Minute Rule is that you likely won’t stop after the 15 minutes end. In fact, you’ll probably continue working. You’re already putting in the effort. You’re already in motion. You’ve already gained some momentum. From this place, it’s much easier to keep working.
Don’t feel like writing? Set a timer for 15-minutes and start writing. Don’t feel like exercising? Set a timer for 15 minutes and get moving. Don’t feel like cleaning? Set a timer for 15 minutes and clean your dishes.
And even if you do stop, you’ve still done something. Instead of being in a downward spiral of procrastination, you’re in an upward spiral of action-taking. That subtle shift can make a big difference.
Change only comes from taking action. Therefore, apply the 15-Minute Rule whenever you feel like procrastinating. This way, you built momentum as you make the ‘getting started’ part easy. Simply follow these three simple steps:
Step 1: Pick one task or activity that you’ve been procrastinating on
Step 2: Set a timer for 15 minutes
Step 3: Work for 15 minutes on this task until the timer rings
To Your Personal Growth,
Founder Personal Growth Lab