In the UK Parliament, there is an unusual rule for introducing a draft law, which is also called a bill, the 10-minute rule. That is how much time a deputy has to propose his idea. After that, the House of Commons decides whether to pass the bill for discussion or not, and it either passes the first reading or is eliminated.
A short period of time like 10 minutes can also be used to improve your own productivity. But first we need to figure out why we tend to procrastinate at all.
Why is it difficult for us to get down to business
From a scientific point of view, procrastination is a kind of battle between our limbic system and the prefrontal cortex of the brain.
The limbic system is responsible for the “fight or flight” instinct inherent in our ancestors. In terms of productivity, it is expressed in the desire to succumb to emotions and temptations. This is the same voice that says: “Come on, do everything tomorrow, let’s better watch the series.” The prefrontal cortex, on the other hand, helps us set goals and plan behavior.
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However, it is often the limbic system that is the winner, which encourages us to procrastinate and choose momentary pleasure. The 10 minute rule will help fix this.
How the rule works
Its main goal is to trick the limbic system into getting itself to work on the task. To do this, you need to focus not on the result, but on dedication, avoid excessive planning and thinking.
Don’t tell yourself that you will read an entire chapter of the book – tell yourself that you will read exactly 10 minutes. Don’t convince yourself to run a mile, decide to just run for 10 minutes.
This method works like clockwork for one simple reason – as soon as you start doing something, most likely you will forget about the time. When we do not want to do something, we imagine that the task is much more difficult than it really is. But as soon as we take it on, we understand that it will take much less time and effort. This reduces the level of worry and anxiety.
It’s easy to persuade yourself: “I will do this task for exactly 10 minutes, and after that I will decide whether I want to continue or not.” You will see: once you start, you will hardly want to stop.
Why does this approach improve performance?
The value of the 10-minute rule is to hone the habit of taking action. This method does not promise quick wins, but sets off a chain reaction of success that starts with us just getting down to business.
There are three main reasons why this approach is so effective:
- Starting is always harder than continuing. The most painful thing about procrastination is taking the first step. And after 10 minutes of work, you fall into the rhythm, and everything becomes much easier.
- The main goal is dedication, not the result. “Achieving the goal” even sounds exhausting. And working for 10 minutes seems to our brain a much more relaxed task. In addition, this formulation reduces subconscious pressure and thirst for success and shifts attention from the result to the task itself.
- Making new habits becomes much easier. It’s hard to change your daily schedule all at once. The 10 Minute Rule helps you do this easily, gradually, and consistently.
If 10 minutes seems like too much time, experiment and start with two or five minutes of action. After all, even if you feel like quitting a task, a few minutes of work is always better than nothing.
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