The 5 Second Rule

With this trick you can successfully counteract procrastination

3 min read
The 5 Second Rule

It's a warm and sunny spring day. You have already completed all your tasks for this week and are happy that you can finish work early this Friday and enjoy the weather in the park with friends.

As soon as you get home, you remember that you still have to go shopping for the weekend. You think about putting off shopping until tomorrow, even though your day is already planned for tomorrow. The decision is made for tomorrow and you know inside that you will – if at all – make it to the supermarket at the last minute. This thought is already stressing you out, and inside you're annoyed that you're putting everything off instead of doing it right away.

But you can rest easy. With your "procrastination" (procrastination) you are not alone. Many find it difficult to motivate themselves.

Humans are creatures of habits. 40% of our everyday life consists of routines that we carry out unconsciously. Be it getting dressed, brushing our teeth, driving to work, etc. We no longer have to think about these things, we just do them.

Then why is it so difficult for us to do things directly? Why do we put the plates on the sink instead of putting them straight into the dishwasher? Why do we leave our shoes in front of the shoe rack after taking them off?

These are bad habits that we have "trained" into over the course of our lives. These, too, become routines that are difficult to break.

The 5 Second Rule is designed to help us break bad habits and get things done that we normally put off right away.

Abbildung: die 5-Sekunden-Regel

What Is The 5 Second Rule?

The American author and motivational speaker Melanie Robbins invented the so-called 5-second rule. According to Robbins, if we don't physically move within 5 seconds, the impulse to do something lapses.

Let's imagine we're sitting in our kitchen and looking at the latest posts in our social media channels on our smartphone. Suddenly we remember that we wanted to take out the garbage. The more we think about it, the less motivated we are to actually do it. Instead, we should count to five in our heads and immediately put our idea into action.

By counting to five, the region in our brain that is responsible for conscious decisions is activated and our inner bastard is outwitted, so to speak. This leads to us being activated to make conscious decisions.

We try to do this with every idea that comes to mind, and with practice, over time, bad habits can be turned into good ones. The immediate implementation of our ideas brings us positive feelings. The more we use the 5 second rule, the easier things will come to us.

Use Cases

The advantage of the 5 second rule is that we can apply it anywhere. Both in everyday life and at work.

  • Actually, you should mow the lawn instead of lying in the sun. Count to 5 and start doing that.
  • Would you like to book a training course? Count to 5 and book.
  • Have you made up your mind to go to the gym? Count to 5 and get going.
  • Dodging a call to a difficult customer? Set a countdown to 5 and pick up the phone.


With the help of the 5-second rule, we manage to acquire new, good routines and at the same time prevent procrastination. In addition, having things done directly creates positive feelings. Actually, I should do laundry...

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