Unleashing Proactivity: Mastering the 5-Seconds Rule to Defeat Procrastination – Alor Timothy Heavens

5, 4, 3, 2, 1..

Is not just counting of numbers but the seconds of takeoff. It’s the seconds where either you take off or you’re taken off.

Have you wondered why you procrastinate? Why do you always want to do this or that and in the next few seconds, you have a hundred and one reason why you shouldn’t do it now, why you can’t do it now?

I’ll tell you. This is because you are allowing a steady and somewhat natural mechanism or flow of thought. A thought that comes from the defense mechanism of your brain. This mechanism ideally works against productivity and risk. How? It’s the mechanism of the brain that always wants you to have pleasure, and always sheds you from stress, hard work, and anything that would take you out of your comfort zone.

Procrastination is “a subconscious desire to feel good right now”

Now rather than doing all these things that make you feel worked or stressed, you do the ones that make you feel relaxed. Searching through the internet, talking, watching movies, and then postponing the actual activities that lead you to achieve your goals. It’s not your fault. When you do these things, your brain releases one of the Happy hormones (D.O.S.E.) which is dopamine, the D in DOSE.

It’s like emotional eating for the mind. When you avoid something that feels hard, you get a sense of relief. Plus, when you do something you enjoy, you get a short-term boost of dopamine.

The more often that you procrastinate, the more likely you’ll repeat the behavior. Here’s the problem: While you get a small boost of relief when you watch videos, over time the work that you are avoiding builds, and that creates more stress in your life.

Now how does the takeoff time come in? The How can it combat procrastination?

Listen! The moment you hear the alarm, that moment you decide you want to create content, that moment you wanna read, that moment you wanna start achieving that goal you’ve set, Do it in 5 seconds. Counting from backward and start doing it.

This is because as soon as you exceed that 5 seconds, your prefrontal cortex and your mind start flooding with those thoughts and defense mechanisms.

“Gosh! I’m tired let me do it later”

“let me watch this movie, at least I’d use it to relax and reward myself, I’d do it after I finish”

“let me watch short videos on Facebook and small memes to make me laugh small, I cannot come and kill myself”

And so many of them, let me talk, let me visit, let me sleep.

And before you know it, you procrastinate and end up not achieving your goals. They ain’t sweet and so you don’t feel like doing them. See, you will never feel like doing them. That’s why you need commitment and the 5 seconds rule.


When you conceive or plan the goals, this mechanism and thought are not released or formed. When you get to the point where you want to implement, you count and start. As you count out, you’re now consciously and intentionally blocking, obstructing, hindering, limiting, and stopping the usual thought pattern. As you are counting, you ain’t able to think of those thoughts or defense mechanisms that will stop you. So immediately you reach the last seconds, start doing what you’re supposed to do without giving it a thought.

But as soon as you have the prompt and instinct to start with your goals and plan and you exceed 5 seconds without doing it, there is every tendency that you’ll procrastinate because the usual thought pattern and defense mechanism might have given you a hundred and one reasons why you should shift that tasks and do something else that will give you pleasure and make you relax. This happens because you didn’t obstruct the flow of those thoughts by counting and doing it immediately.

What’s the rule?


The moment you have an instinct to act on a goal you must 5-4-3-2-1 and physically move or your brain will stop you.

The chemistry behind this lies in disrupting the usual thought pattern. When you consciously count down from 5, you obstruct those pesky defense mechanisms. By the time you hit 1, you’re poised to act without giving those obstructive thoughts a chance to derail your momentum.

However, surpassing that countdown without initiating action opens the door wide for procrastination. The mind, left unchecked, will conjure myriad reasons to delay, seek pleasure, and steer clear of discomfort. The key, then, is in adhering to the 5-second rule: when the urge strikes, count down and move—physically engage—lest your mind sabotage your intentions.

The 5-4-3-2-1 isn’t just a countdown; it’s a tool to disrupt the procrastination loop, enabling you to override the brain’s natural inclination toward pleasure-seeking and comfort. So, next time you sense that spark of initiative, embrace the countdown and propel yourself into action before the hesitation seeps in.

Implementing the 5-4-3-2-1 rule involves a few simple steps:

1. Recognize the Trigger: Identify the moments when you feel that initial spark or urge to tackle a task, project, or goal. This could be anything from wanting to start a workout to beginning a work assignment.

2. Count Down: As soon as you recognize this impulse, start counting backward from 5 to 1. It’s crucial to start this countdown immediately—don’t deliberate or let the hesitation settle in.

3. Move with Purpose: When you hit “1,” physically move or initiate the action associated with your goal. This movement could be as simple as standing up, opening a document, or taking that first step toward the task at hand.

4. Stay Committed: The key to the 5-second rule is commitment. Once you start the countdown, commit yourself to take action as soon as you reach “1.” It’s about overriding the mind’s instinct to procrastinate.

5. Practice and Repeat: Like any habit, mastering the 5-4-3-2-1 technique takes practice. Keep applying it consistently whenever you recognize the impulse to delay or procrastinate.

Conclusively, by following these steps, you’re essentially interrupting the natural flow of hesitation and excuses that typically lead to procrastination. The 5-second rule serves as a powerful tool to break this cycle and propel you into action before doubts and hesitations take root.

This article is inspired by the book The 5-second Rule by Mel Robbins.

Image: Google.

Alor Timothy Kelechukwu
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