The Five-Minute Rule for Motivation

    Author: Dan Young, CCIE, PMP and VP of Operations at StormWind

We are going to talk about a handy motivational tool that you can always count on for helping coach folks through their training. Training is fun (most of the time) and rewarding (almost all the time), but let’s face it, it still takes loads of effort. And sometimes the anticipation of that effort is a real barrier.


Motivation is an elusive emotion. But what we don’t realize is that it can be triggered spontaneously through a simple exercise rather than through some energy-rich event. Take a chore you loathe with a passion. Hopefully, it isn’t training. For me, it is blowing out the leaves in my front yard. It usually takes me about 90 minutes with an additional 30 minutes of cleanup after I finish the exercise. Sometimes motivation strikes me (and sometimes it doesn’t). But when it does, I find myself going the extra mile. I add a little extra to the endeavor and through doing that, it gives me something back in return. I generally find something I can take pride in, and it takes the sting out of burning two hours of my weekend on what I consider a “chore”.


We can look to cognitive science’s 5-minute rule which can help us get our team members training and learning. Simply stated, the 5-minute rule encourages you to set a goal of doing what you are procrastinating for five minutes. If after five minutes if you choose to stop, you are free to do so. In the science of cognitive behavior, the 5-minute rule helps to overcome procrastination. Setting the intention to begin something is often the biggest hurdle that must be overcome. The 5-minute rule is an approach that recognizes and targets overcoming that initial barrier to begin a task.


If you are a manager trying to motivate your team to get trained, how you can leverage this rule? Here it is: Urge any individuals struggling with finding motivation to get in and try it for just a few minutes – with no strings attached.


Seriously, encourage just a few minutes. And if they need or choose to break away after a few minutes, that is 100% OK. They can always give it another try the next day. If the training is StormWind training, get these individuals to log in and try just a few minutes of a class each day. If the circumstances of the day don’t allow for it for any reason, give them the out of regrouping the next day. But invariably, encourage them to poke their head in consistently for a few minutes.