The five second rule is a simple tool that undercuts most of the psychological weapons your brain employs to keep you from taking action, which will allow you to procrastinate less, live happier and reach your goals.

The five-second rule is a simple tool that undercuts most of the psychological weapons your brain employs to keep you from taking action, which will allow you to procrastinate less, live happier and reach your goals.

The idea was first shared by motivational speaker and best selling author Mel Robbins on a TEDx stage 6 years ago and is now one of the top 20 TEDx talks in the world.

Every day we miss opportunities when we allow ourselves to hesitate. The second you allow yourself to hesitate, your brain starts creating stories about why you are hesitating. You don’t feel like it; you’re not clever or talented enough; it won’t matter what you do so don’t do anything. Then those voices start repeating over and over and there goes the opportunity to act.

The 5-second rule is a form of metacognition that teaches people to take charge. When that alarm goes off in the morning, 5-4-3-2-1 GET UP out of bed before your brain has a chance to hit the snooze button. 5-4-3-2-1 put on your trainers and hit the gym. 5-4-3-2-1 speak up in a meeting, the opportunities are endless.

The 5-Second Rule in the workplace

People can use the 5-second rule to shake up their health, happiness, and relationships, but one of the most powerful ways to use it is in the workplace. Whether you are an employee, manager, executive or small business owner, the rule can transform your life. Managers have used it to train their sales teams to use it when making calls.

Executives have shared how the rule is helping them catapult their business to new heights because they’re taking steps they’d been putting off for years. People are using it to help them make important presentations, reach out to potential new clients, act on new ideas, stop procrastinating, speak up, and increase productivity.

As people learn the 5-Second Rule, they gain the ability to move from thought to action. By becoming more confident and courageous, people who use the rule get more done at work, act without hesitation, become more productive, have better control over their thoughts, and are nicer to each other.

Many small business owners are constantly struggling with where to focus their time and their energy. The moment they walk into work, they feel they have lost control of their day. Small business owners should take time at the start of their day to prepare for what’s ahead.

It is important to force yourself to spend 10 to 15 minutes planning your day and working on the one strategic objective that you keep avoiding before you leave for work.

Most small business owners wake up, look at their phone and start panicking. You know you want to grow your business, the best thing you can do is to put the phone down, in fact don’t even look at your phone first thing. Instead, when the alarm goes off, 5-4-3-2-1 get up and sit down with a notebook and spend five minutes thinking about what you are going to get done today without the panic, without the distraction, get your mindset straight first and that will help you expand your business.

The rule can also be used to overcome self-doubt which is extremely important for small business owners, it is essential for them to put a stop to the self-doubt that will ultimately cripple their small business if it isn’t stifled. The biggest obstacles small business owners face is the worries they place in their head.

That moment you feel yourself doubting yourself, you must push it out of your head. Use the rule Five, four, three, two, one. Your self-doubt has no place in your business.

Teresa Amabile researcher at Harvard Business School, studied over 12,000 accounts from individuals of their work day experiences in order to determine the single most important factor in employee productivity, happiness, and engagement. The findings were that the top factor that leads to a positive work life is celebrating the “little wins.” It all comes down to progress–in particular, making meaningful daily progress and being celebrated for it.

We tend to think of ‘making progress’ as accomplishing the big stuff: landing a new account, giving a huge presentation, raising the money, releasing a new product, and so on. However, to get to those big moments, there are hundreds (and usually thousands) of hours of smaller tasks that lead up to the launch.

There are a number of ways that you can start celebrating little wins and motivate employees and increase productivity and morale using the 5 second rule. First, train your managers to be generous with their praises when a task, no matter how small is accomplished.

When you have an instinct to applaud the progress of someone else, without hesitating, count 5-4-3-2-1 and go do it. Another thing you can do is encourage all employees to keep track of their daily wins with a ‘did-it list’, which is the opposite of a to-do list. If people share their daily wins publicly, it also encourages celebration of progress.

The best thing about the 5-Second Rule is how universal and effective it is. A lot of people live life inside of their head. We think about the things that could improve our life or get us closer to our dreams and goals. This can be all sorts of things such as exercising, looking for a job, sharing ideas, starting to work on something important, sending an email – but moving from thought to action can seem impossible because thinking doesn’t equal change.

To improve anything, you have to find your courage to try and that’s where the 5-second rule comes in. It will teach you to move from thinking about the fears that hold you back to taking the actions that will improve your life. You can change your life, one five-second decision at a time.

Words: Laura Faid / Images: Unsplash

Laura Faid writes about self-development and owns Amira Jasmine Jewellery