Five Minutes at a Time

Whatever your New Years resolutions are this trick may help you keep them.

I’m terrible at organization. In fact when I was in second grade I can still remember my teacher, Mrs. Rasar, yelling at me in front of the entire class, because I couldn’t find my math homework that was crammed inside my extremely messy desk. I’m not ashamed to admit it that I did cry that day.

Fast forward to today and I still struggle with this issue but I’ve found a way to change this life-long aversion to organization five minutes at a time.

It’s definitely not rocket science and I’m sure I’m not the first to propose this. What I do is set a timer on my phone for five minutes and then I clean and organize whatever space I want to improve in that amount of time. During this time I’m fond of playing some music. Currently I’m playing Hank William III’s “Crazed Country Rebel” as I’m organizing my medical bills and insurance paperwork.

Tackling a big issue like getting organized can feel overwhelming. By setting a timer for only five minutes at a time I free myself of the anticipated dread of spending hours or even days tackling a problem.

What I’ve found is that after the five minutes are up I set the timer again for five more minutes. I keep doing this and before I know it I’ve got a bookshelf organized, or I’ve gone through a stack of old mail or I’ve finally completed a filing system to put my financial, medical and business paperwork in.

Procrastination destroys my initiative, saps my energy and makes me feel even more physically unwell than usual. Taking action even if it’s only for five minutes at a time is better than not taking any action. I feel a lot better when I am moving in the direction of my goals.

When I set a timer for only five minutes, I think to myself that I can do anything for five minutes. Then when I finally do get off the couch the magic of momentum kicks in and before I know it my room and my car are more cleaned and organized then they’ve been in decades.

Currently I’m rewatching the show “Frasier” from the beginning on Amazon Prime. In between each episode I set my phone timer for five minutes and see how much I can get done. Sometimes I just work for the five minutes and then start the next episode but more often then not I reset that five minute timer at least once or twice before I plop back down on the capuchin to watch the next episode

Today most folks are struggling to break old habits and build new ones, tackle great challenges or accomplish new feats. What I’ve found helpful in my quest to become a better human being is to break down whatever I want to accomplish into small increments of action that I can accomplish in five minutes at a time. It’s a non-stressful way for me to get motivated, build momentum and change lifelong habits by simply setting my phone timer for five minutes and getting to work.

Brad Miller

Fellow Human

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