Got Five Minutes? Get Happier

  • If you are anything like me, you procrastinate like crazy. Why not take 5 minutes to accomplish those tasks or to do lists you've been putting off?

If you are anything like me, you procrastinate, not a personality trait I’m proud of, but it is part of who I am. Perhaps for you it’s the to-do list you never actually “do,” your bills, laundry, cleaning, or anything that is put off, and you wind up stressing out about later. I have noticed that these mundane tasks can actually cause more anxiety for me and many of my clients.

Normal lists may not do the trick anymore because they get written and then never completed, giving me more anxiety. So, rather than making myself feel bad for putting off yet another thing, I take five minute action breaks and start getting things done. My sense of satisfaction boosts and so does my level of happiness.

Five Minutes: Here’s How it Works

If you are anything like me, you procrastinate like crazy. Why not take 5 minutes to accomplish those tasks or to do lists you've been putting off?

You have five minutes, I know you do (get off Facebook or Instagram for a little while and you will find the time) and set out an area of your life you need to tackle. You can do this at work, at home, or even while your commuting. Today, I chose my desk.

  • Set a timer.  Use your phone, the microwave, or your oven, whatever will ding to let you know time is up.
  • Get to work.  Make it a game, see how much you can accomplish. Chances are, you may even go longer than the time you set. I organized my files, grabbed a bottle of Windex, took out the trash, vacuumed, and put away anything that looked out of order. By the time I was done I had a few seconds left, and was smiling!  That was something I was dreading for weeks, and only took me about 4 minutes! I do this with many irritating tasks, responding to or organizing emails or paying my bills. Sometimes I set it for longer, but when I keep the time frames small, I feel accomplished and motivated to move forward with my day. You can do this multiple times throughout the day.
  • Use rewards.  Maybe you reward yourself by checking Twitter or having a piece of chocolate, or doing something fun.  Don’t go overboard here but, if its something you have really had a difficult time completing, why not?  It will signal the reward center of your brain, making you more likely feel better about finishing the task next time.

Many of my clients who have ADD/ADHD or who find that they procrastinate and then feel guilty have found this technique effective. Telling yourself or a child, “the whole room needs to be clean,” is a daunting tas, and often times we get so overwhelmed by the big picture, we don’t see how easy it is to break it down into manageable assignments. Start with five minutes on a corner or a drawer, when your done find your inner cheerleader and give yourself a pat on the back.

So take 5, 10, or 15 minutes and start getting happier, and more control of your life, you have the time somewhere in your schedule. Just make it happen. Have a tip that works for you? Please share!


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Emily Roberts MA, LPC is The Guidance Girl. Her goal is to help YOU become the most confident person you know! Emily is an award-winning author Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Becoming Who You Are, Psychotherapist, TV & Media Contributor, Educational Speaker, and parenting consultant. She travels around the country educating girls, women, and parents. Express Yourself is available at bookstores nationwide and on Amazon. To learn more about Emily click here.

About the Author:

Emily Roberts, M.A., LPC is a Psychotherapist, Parenting Consultant, Educational Speaker and Published Author. Her Book Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Becoming Who You Are was published by New Harbinger Publications. The Guidance Girl is a concept created by Emily as an innovative, powerful approach to help you achieve goals and feel your best by redefining traditional therapy for the girls and women of today.

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