Beating Procrastination: Study only 5 minutes a day!

Hello fellow procrastinators, delayers, and the unmotivated. Welcome to my world. Everyone does it now and then, even the biggest achievers. How to fight it and win? Battle by battle and in just 5 minutes.


Most important, DON’T STUDY 25-35 HOURS PER WEEK, as the flyers on campus say. No way. I ain’t even gonna start with that in mind. Instead, STUDY 5 MINUTES A DAY. Yes, I said five. FIVE. 5.0. 300 seconds.


Lets take the example of  yardwork. I hate it. It’s dirty, sweaty. There’s bugs, spiders! I get stuff in my hair. Ewe! No way. But, I can do 5 minutes, ya that’s fine. 5 minutes a day. Anyone can do 5 minutes. I started today after weeks of delaying it. I started right after a grueling bike ride, when I was already tired and sweating. And you know what? I actually did 10 minutes. Woooohoooooo!. I extended my workout by a few  minutes because it was hard work. Knowing I would only do 5 minutes, I worked harder and fast. I gave it my all,. Tomorrow? I am gonna do 5 minutes, too. You know why? Because now there’s a pile of pine needles on my property that the wind could scatter. I have created a sense of urgency. That pile looks terrible, messy. I need to put it into a trash bin. Tomorrow, I will put those needles away. NOT TODAY. I already did my 5 minutes.


Let’s talk about studying. I hate it. It’s boring, tough. I want to sleep. I have fun things to do. I have a life. Ewe! No way. But, I can do 5 minutes, ya that’s fine. 5 minutes a day. Anyone can do 5 minutes. I started today after days of avoiding it. I started with calculus. I hate it. But you know what? I actually went 10 minutes. Wooohooooo! Now I can go to the beach. But you know what? I left this one problem unsolved. It’s bothering me. I don’t understand the concept. I am thinking about it while at the beach. I see someone reading a book and think about that problem. I gotta know the answer. I will just take a peek when I get home, look up the solution, ask a friend. I can do that for 5 minutes. Tomorrow, for sure, I will figure it out.


You see the secret to overcoming procrastination is to develop a habit, same secret to starting back into exercise. Don’t go 25-35 with minutes, or study with 25-35 hours in mind. Start with 5 minutes of exercise, yard work, studying. If you only had 5 minutes to study a day, like you weren’t allowed to study more, I bet you would figure out how to learn faster. Imagine you are in a challenge to memorize a whole page of notes and you had just 5 minutes. You would sit there and race through the information, maybe repeating over and over the information in your head. You would study intensely. You may write it down over and over. Rote memorization doesn’t work very well. Learning some memory tricks would definitely help here (see my memory training entry). This intense studying is exactly what you need to do if you had just 5 minutes. Because you know what’s gonna happen? You will study more than 5 minutes. I don’t want you to go crazy and study for 5 hours. No no no. You won’t get back to it if you know 5 minutes means 50 minutes. Keep the jam session to no more than 15 minutes. Stop, take a break, study something else or go another 15 minutes.


When tutoring, I try different ideas to help students practice speed quizzes or studying fast. I hold my hands up to their head as if it were a gun and say, “You have 5 minutes to memorize this page or….” The stress I am  hoping to create actually helps students memorize. Cramming, why does it work? Because you are stressed. Stress helps with short term memory. Stress and memory tricks helps with long term memory. See my next blog entry for memory training.


Now get to work. but only 5 minutes!


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