The Five Minute Rule

—Keara Meeley, Co-Editor in Chief—

Courtesy of Brother Godzilla (flicker)Every student has been there: attempting to cram four chapters in the night before a big test, finishing up an essay the block before its due, or even filling in the last few questions of math homework as the teacher comes around to check it. While many know this as procrastination, some upperclassmen may know it as its more dreaded sister: senoritas. Currently seniors at Cosby are in the homestretch before college and their future. Many have received their acceptance letters and some have even given the fist deposit of a lifetime of student debt to the college of their choosing. It’s crucial to finish the year strong, after all scholarships and even acceptance letters can be revoked.

A key way to stop senioritis in its tracks its to avoid procrastination, which for many students is just as hard as it sounds. Procrastination is the frequent failure at accomplishing what needs to occur, in this case, an assignment.

Photo Courtesy of Tummic (flicker)While procrastination is often hard to beat outright, it can be curbed using the five minute rule, created by Kevin Systrom, the CEO and co-founder of Instagram. The five second rule may apply to fallen food, but the five minute rule is used to assist in beginning or making progress on a task or assignment. The rule originated in computer science and was used to help in deciding whether a data item should be kept in memory, or stored on a disk and read back into existence when needed. However, systrom adapted it to be used as a valuable tool to combat procrastination and a lack of motivation.

But how does it work? Begin by picking a task or assignment that needs to be accomplished. Set a time and work on it for five minutes and then stop. Plain and simple! Five minutes may not seem like a long time, after all what can you achieve in five minutes? The answer: a lot more than you could have gotten done otherwise by continuing to push off the task for a few more hours, or even another day. The best part is that the rule can be applied in and out of school. This technique can be used to complete housework, start a new hobby you’ve been waiting to begin, or to just get moving and up off of the couch for a few minutes.

Many students are aware of the consequences of procrastination on grades and GPAs. Waiting so long to complete an assignment or start a project often leads to lower grade, or in extreme cases not even finishing it or turning it in late. Procrastination means that the work you turn in will never be your best. While some students are skilled enough to work well under pressure, pulling off a good grade even after limiting the time frame, this does not always equal success. Working under an intense time crunch, rather than having the ability to put an extra spark of creativity or proofread for mistakes in your work, can mean the difference between good and great work. The five minute rule can also be utilized when you slowly feel a lack of motivation creep in. Stop the task you’re doing and take five minutes to reflect on what you have accomplished and what still needs to be done. In this time it is crucial to not start another task or direct your attention to your phone, starting another task during this time can just lead to more procrastination.

The habits you begin now can shape how you live your life in the future. Chances are that if you continue to procrastinate without making an attempt to combat it, procrastination will not only characterize your high school career, but your college life and your future.

(I even had to use the rule myself, as I procrastinated while writing this article!)

Photo Courtesy of Keara Meeley