The Five-Second Rule for Productivity

Author Mel Robbins was facing her lowest point. At 41, she didn’t have a job, her family faced debt, and all she could do was lie in bed, tired. She tried many things to get herself out of this state—but all of them brought her back to where she started.

This all changed when she saw a commercial of a rocket. When she heard the countdown, “5… 4… 3… 2…1… BLAST OFF!” what she should do hit her like a train. And it worked. She “blasted off” her way to work, inspired with certain ways to take action and turn her life around.

So how did she do it? How did Robbins take the first step?

It’s simple: when she has a task to accomplish, like getting out of bed, she counts down starting at “5” and when she hits “1,” she blasts herself out of her bed like a rocket. She later called it the “5 second rule.”

What she means is that if you have the instinct to act, you use the 5-second rule to act upon it despite what you’re feeling.

Let’s say you have to finish the assignment due tonight. You know you should do it in order to improve your grade, but you also want to scroll through Instagram. You start to reach for your phone. Instead exclaim, “Wait, stop! Do that assignment! 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… Do It!”

The only rules to this trick are that it must be something possible, and it has to be something you can do at any moment. You can use these for anything, such as taking out the trash, breaking an unpleasant habit, or achieving your dreams.

Choose something on your to-do list which you have been delaying and “Just Do It!” 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, GO!

— Billy Wikol