A Happiness Journey

Very quick life hacks….

When my journey first started I was discovering so much and piling so much onto my plate in order to make my life a manageable place to live that discovering little, quick and easy ways to make improvements seemed like the sensible thing to do. Now I’m all about the little life hacks. I believe we’re all super busy and if there are quick and easy things we can do which make a massive amount of difference then I am all over it. Pareto’s law of 20/80 outputs/inputs states that we should do the things that take 20% of our time and effort but achieve 80% of the gains and rewards. These little time / procrastination hacks are just that. Minimal effort required, huge difference made to our daily lives.


The Five Second Rule

Successful Life Coach, Mel Robbins (nope, not Tony’s wife) came up with the concept of the 5 Second Rule. She believes that the only way to change your life for the better is to act on all those little impulses we continually have, throughout the day, to do things. Unfortunately, most of us don’t. We may have a great idea, or there maybe an action we really need to take, but we let the moment pass us by. She has done the research and has discovered that there is a 5 second window that exists between the moment you have the instinct the change, and your mind killing it. And this is for everyone across the board. If you don’t act within this 5 second window then you will remain stagnant.


By acting on the impulse within the 5 second window, you are creating momentum, which will get you moving on to the next thing that much easier. The trick is to count yourself down 5-4-3-2-1 and by the time you get to 1, you push yourself to act. This is how to get all the hard stuff done, the stuff you really don’t want to do and are inclined to procrastinate on.


She does clarify what she means by an ‘impulse’ and confirms it’s not the impulse to eat a pack of crumpets (my personal Achilles heel) or do shots at the local bar on a school night, but impulses of the heart. Something you know feels right in your heart and gut. We all have our own unique brand of wisdom and intuition, where we know what’s right for us, we just don’t do it.


They say that a journey is made up of many steps, and the 5 second rule is what helps you get onto step 1, and then 2, and as you move along your steps, more and more will show themselves to you. Too often we want to see the whole path before we’re prepared to act, and life just doesn’t work that way. Usually it’s like walking through thick fog, or walking in the dark with a torch, it’s not until we take a step that we see the next step.


I’ve started using this method for getting my arse out of bed. Alarm goes off, 5-4-3-2-1, up and out of bed!


The One-Minute rule

The one-minute rule is very similar to the 5 second rule, but it’s less about acting on the impulses that will change our lives for the better, and more about getting the boring tasks done. Gretchin Rubin, author and happiness expert, came up with this super simple idea. If a task will take you a minute or less to complete, do it the moment you realise it needs to be done. It’s when we keep putting off the small, tedious tasks, that they build up and become overwhelming. When a to do list seems to long, we simply don’t do any of it. It doesn’t sound like this would make much of a difference to your life but the impact is actually pretty epic. Not only are many of the menial tasks we hate, short tasks to complete, it also creates the same momentum as the 5 second rule. Once we start something that takes less than a minute, we’re more likely to keep going and do the next task which may be slightly longer.


For me, the game changer with this one was washing my plate up after I used it. Living alone got me into bad habits and I would often put something in the sink. Then washing up would take ages and I’d hate it! Now, I know washing my plate will take less than a minute, so I do it. Make my bed? Less than a minute so it’s done.


Five-Minute Rule

Last, but not least, is the 5-minute rule. It’s actually a technique used in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for procrastination. You set yourself the goal of doing whatever it is you would usually avoid doing, and you decide to just do it for 5 minutes. If at the end of the 5 minutes you’re having such a terrible time, you can quit. When a task seems so big and arduous, those procrastinators among us would much rather park it, somewhere we can’t see it, with the promise of definitely getting to it at some point…probably never. And when a task is ill-defined it carries with it the worry that it could take hours, maybe even days to get it done, so we’ll just wait until our diary is well and truly clear for at least a month before we get started. With the 5-minute rule we can stop, guilt free after 5 minutes and pat ourselves on the back for a job well done. And just like the other hacks in this blog, momentum will probably take over and we’ll just smash through until it’s finished.


Incidentally the 5 minute rule is also a really great way to start a new habit, something I’ll be discussing in more detail next week. If a habit seems too big then we’re more likely to fall off the wagon before it’s cemented in our neural pathways, whereas, if we just aim to do a tiny little bit each day (like read a paragraph of a book every day, rather than a chapter), before we know it, we’ve formed a new habit that’s much easier to build upon.

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6 thoughts on “Very quick life hacks….”

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