Procrastination is a problem which I face, sadly I have to say, almost every day.
A month ago I decided that I would begin exercising regularly. But this time for real. No excuses.
I have to tell you that I was on my bicycle for 20 minutes and then doing other floor exercise for 10 minutes this morning. Quite a bit of progress, right?
How did I do it?
It's very simple. I used the "one minute rule". And the beauty of this method is, that you can use it for any task.
Stop procrastinating in one minute
Use the momentum of the initial motivation for scene setup
Initial motivation gives you an almost euphoric feeling. Use its' momentum for preparing your environment. You need to make the space where you live a constant reminder of your newly decision. Have it be almost impossible to ignore by setting things in your path.
Having to step over the fitness bag when you walk out of your room is a good reminder that your plan was to exercise.
What did I do?
I moved my stationary bike, which has long been just gathering dust, into the living room where my computer is and where I spend a lot of my time. It's placed in a way so it's impossible for me to sit down by my computer without bumping into it.
Set your goal
Aim for something along the lines of this (it's my goal): in the next 30 days I'll ride my bike every morning. I will have no excuse whatsoever to do it, even if it's just for a minute.
One minute is nothing, I thought, when I set my goal. It's just a bit more than a blink of an eye. If I cannot devote one minute per every day to cycling, then my character really lost its' value.
When you set your goal and you feel that 30 days is too long a period for you, start with 7 days, or 14 days.
If you're introducing a new habit, 21 days should be a minimum. If you're just trying to start on a task you've been procrastinating for a very long time, then lesser commitment might suffice. But don't set your goal for less than 7 days.
Use the one minute strategy
After you set your goal use the "one minute rule" every day.
How did the "one minute rule" work for me?
I prepared my environment, like described above. I made the decision to sit on it and turn the pedals for at least a minute every day. One minute is almost no time at all. But after my car accident almost two years ago and the pain I still feel in my left foot has kept me from exercising for way too long. I felt repelled by only thinking about exercising.
One minute dragged on as if it was an hour long. Seconds on the timer ticked away soooo slowly. But I persisted. One minute is nothing, one minute is nothing, one minute is nothing. That was my mantra.
The minute on the bike was almost the same as on my first day, but I persisted. Probably I was still driven by my initial motivation. Or maybe it was my stubborn nature, a personality trait which I'm sometimes very proud that I have it.
The pain or being on a bike lessened a bit, but when the timer reached 1:00, I almost jumped off of it.
On the fourth day I was on my bike for a few seconds longer than one minute. And to tell you the truth, I began to feel stupid to ride the bike for only a minute.
I must had felt stupid enough to myself and pedaled for 5 minutes. And after that I stretched for maybe a minute.
Not a great achievement, I know. It's not like I ran the marathon, but I felt a bit of pride. I was doing something after all.
I actually spent 7 minutes on my bike while I watched a short motivational video. Time passed by quickly. That's what happens if you distract your mind with something pleasant while you're doing something useful, you don't like to do.
The day that followed I moved on to longer informative and motivational videos that I like to watch in the morning. That gradually extended my workout. Now I exercise a total of half an hour per day. At least. Sometimes, it's even more.
I might have actually developed a habit.
After I managed to establish this new habit, I came across an interesting article describing the same thing from James Clear, except he talks about "Two minute rule". The following part is inspired by his work.
The logic behind the "one minute rule"
The strategy, which I call the "one minute rule", is meant to help you, when you want to start doing something that you know you should be doing.
Most of the things you procrastinate are not difficult tasks at all. In all probability you already have all the knowledge and skills you need to finish the tasks. The only problem is that you're avoiding doing it for one reason or another.
The "one minute rule" will help you overcome procrastination and laziness, because it really is very simple. It is hard to say no to just a minute of your time.
The one minute rule has two parts:
Part 1: If it will take one minute or less to finish the task then do it right away
It is amazing how many tasks we procrastinate, but it would only require us one minute or even less to do. For example, place the dirty glass and dishes directly in the dishwasher, put laundry directly into the washing machine when you take them off, clean up the mess, send an email and so on.
If the task requires less than one minute to do, do it immediately.
Part 2: When you're starting a new habit, the initial tasks should only last one minute
Can you reach all your goals in less than one minute? Almost certainly not. However, the path to each goal can be started in less than one minute. And this is the purpose of this rule.
Does this strategy sound too simple for your specific life goal? Let me tell you. It is not. It works for any goal that you set. And there's only one reason for it: Physics of life.
Physics of life
A long time ago Sir Isaac Newton taught us about the laws of physics. Just to refresh your memory. Objects that are not moving, tend to stay motionless. Objects that are moving, tend to stay in motion.
As well as for apples, this is true for humans. "one minute rule" works. You can achieve any big or small goal with it. After you start with the action that is necessary to achieve the goal, it's quite easy to continue with it.
I just love my "one minute rule" because of the idea it represents. It's a promise that everything is possible. Anything is possible, as long as you start working on it. Getting started is the hardest. Using the "one minute rule" makes it simple. And once we start the movement, it's easier to continue doing it.
Do you want to become a writer?
Use the "one minute rule" to write a single sentence, and you will often find yourself writing for an hour.
Make your beginning easy. The goal is to write a single sentence. And then is "it pulls you in" just keep on writing.
Would you like to develop reading habit?
Read only the first page of the book ("one minute rule") and before you realize it, you'll already be reading the third chapter.
You want to run three times a week?
Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday all you need to do is put on your jogging sneakers and walk through the door ("one minute rule"). It is very likely that you will have enough inspiration to follow though. Before you know it you'll be leaving miles and miles behind you.
Starting is the most important part of creating a new habit. You will most likely have to take the effort to push yourself, to use the "One minute rule" more than just the first time, before you make a habit out of it. With forming new habits it is not the performance that matters, but the act of doing it alone. Consistently taking the action. Every day.
In many cases, starting is the most important thing. It might lead to a successful task completion or not. As long as you do it. Consistently, every day. And this is especially true in the beginning, because later on you will have plenty of time to modify your performance, once your habit is formed.
The point of the "one minute rule" is not in the result of the action you take, but rather in taking the action at all.
Try it now
I cannot guarantee that the "One minute rule" will work for you, but I can assure you that you will never know, if you don't try.
I notice that many people study, read, watch educational videos, listen to audio clips of various trainings, but never test what they learned (myself not excluded).
I want this piece of information to be different for you. I want you to take advantage of information you just got from me. Right now.
Think about what task you're procrastinating can be done in less than one minute? Do it right now. No excuses, everyone can miss 60 seconds. Everyone. Use this time to do something useful.
Ready. Set. Go.