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Published on December 29, 2020

5-minute timer illustration

Combat Indecisiveness: The Five-Minute Rule

Sometimes I know exactly what to write about for these blogs and other times I struggle. When I struggle, with this or any task, I tend to drag my feet to get it done.

Sound familiar?

This got me thinking about indecisiveness. According to Oxford Languages, indecisiveness is defined as:

  1. Not settling an issue.
  2. Not having or showing the ability to make decision quickly and effectively.

Let’s take a closer look at how the second definition might play into the choices we make in our day-to-day lives and therefore our levels of productivity. When a task or a “to-do” seems heavy and burdensome we have two choices: complete it or avoid it. By completing, we know that a sense of accomplishment will follow. By avoiding, the list adds up and sits stagnant.

Enter the five-minute rule.

This is a cognitive behavioral therapy technique that is great for practicing decisiveness and avoiding procrastination. Take an area where you are struggling to make a decision or take action and commit to the task or behavior for five minutes. If at that point, you can’t stand it any longer, stop. However, most of the time you’ll find that after five minutes you will continue to accomplish the task at hand or you’ll realize it was something that could be completed within the five minutes. It’s that easy. 

Now, let’s take this concept and compare it to well-being. The five-minute rule can be applied to many components of wellness. Here are some examples:

  • Physical activity/exercise – Start with a five-minute jog
  • Rest – Step away from your daily obligations for a rest break
  • Nutrition – Start a grocery list or sign up for health coaching
  • Work-life balance – Clean out your inbox or start a book
  • Stress management – Start a deep-breathing activity or stretching routine
  • Professional care – Schedule your annual visit with your provider
  • Relationships/communication – Call or text a friend that you’ve been meaning to contact
  • Spirituality – Journal what gives you a sense of purpose or meaning

I challenge you today to pick a category and make a decision regarding it. Start with five minutes and see where it leads you. Over time, continue to practice decisiveness and commitment to your goals. Make decisions that improve you and others. You’re worth it!

By Morgan Douthit, Well-being Specialist, Well-Being Department Avera Health Plans

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