Procrastinating is a pretty universally experienced issue. Unless you’re one of those strange people who just go ahead and tick every item off their to-do lists without much trouble – then I guess you can exit on out of this article.
But for the rest of us, tips and tricks around how to stop our brains from procrastinating on important tasks are generally pretty welcome.
Caroline Buchanan, a journalist and author of The 15-Minute Rule — How to Stop Procrastinating and Take Control of your Life, believes that her 15-minute productivity rule is nothing short of life-changing.
Here’s a little run down on what it is and how it may benefit you.
What’s the 15-minute procrastination rule?
In her TED X Talk on the topic, Buchanan explained that “You can use my 15-minute rule on anything or everything. You can use it to change your career, you can use it to sort out your money.”
Her first experience with it was completing a tax return. Hands up if you relate?
Buchanan shared that she decided one day to “give it 15 minutes”.
“So I set my alarm, and I started to prepare it, doing my tax return.
“…And then suddenly, my alarm went off, and the 15 minutes was up. And I felt fantastic. I can’t tell you how good I felt, sort of out of all proportion to the task. And why of course I felt so good was because I’d started it. And I had taken the nightmare out of it. And I’ve taken the feelings of being overwhelmed out of it.”
The secret to the procrastinating hack, however, was that once the 15-minutes ended, Buchanan stopped working away at her tax return.
When she chose to take on the next 15-minute tax return block, Buchanan found that she was way more productive.
“I got much further on than I could possibly have thought I would,” she said.
“But again, I stopped after 15 minutes, and then I thought ‘This, you know, this really works. This really works.'”
How effective is it?
Well, according to Buchanan, this is the productivity technique she used to complete everything from sorting her wardrobe to writing her book.
“So, set that timer on your phone and start your 15-minute rule. You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do. The other joys of it are, that when you do that 15 minutes, it’s like a real safe time frame, and you feel contained, and you’re free to let your imagination run away with you, and you don’t have to censor yourself,” she said.
Her tip? “I suggest you do three lots of 15 minutes over a three day period.” And in those first two blocks, you really should do your best to stop working at the 15-minute mark.
“Even if you’re getting to go on, even if you think I’m really into this, that it’ll be mad to stop,” she stressed.
From the third 15-minute block onwards, however, you can extend it out as much as you like.
If you want to learn more about the 15-minute rule and figure out how to stop procrastinating, you can listen to Buchanan’s TED X Talk on TED X Shorts, here.
This article on procrastinating has been updated since its original publish date.