Three (time-based) rules

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What are the three rules?”

“The 5-second rule, the 2-minute rule, and the 5-minute rule.”

“What is the 5-second rule?”

“It’s a powerful activation ritual for breaking through fear and hesitation. 

Whenever you’re about to do something (perceived as) scary, you have a small window of opportunity of about 5 seconds. If you don’t take action in that time-frame, your mind will stop you by coming up with excuses and horror stories.

To overcome that, take a slow deep breath, count backwards from 5 – 5-4-3-2-1 – and move. ‘Movement’ here is both metaphoric and literal. Moving into action, and physically moving your body to activate your physiology. Counting backwards is also important because it both focuses you and distracts you from your thoughts. 

I use this in Parkour every time when breaking jumps.”

“What do you mean by breaking jumps?”

“‘Breaking the jump’ is a Parkour expression which means breaking through the fear of the jump. This is a fundamental aspect of Parkour. Whenever you contemplate doing a jump (or any other move) that’s at the limit of your comfort zone – in what Josh Waitzkin calls ‘the stretch zone‘ – you get instant feedback in the form of fear. The way you progress in Parkour is by constantly breaking through fear barriers.”

“Like in life.”

“Pretty much.”

“What is the 2-minute rule?”

“The rule says: if an action takes less that 2 minutes to do, do it immediately

You’re familiar with the concept of marginal gains.”

“Tiny gains that add up over time?”


This goes the other way too. We might call the opposite phenomenon marginal losses. If you don’t do the little things immediately, they add up, and at some point overwhelm you.”

“What is the 5-minute rule?”

“It has many uses.

One of them is as a starting ritual: committing to doing something for only 5 minutes.

The most difficult part in doing something is getting started.” 

“Why do you think that is?”

“My theory is that it has to do with how you mentally represent it to yourself. 

I like to illustrate it using the energy and movement physical-models.

To set a process in motion requires a certain activation energy.
Once in motion, the energy required to maintain the process is much lower. This is Newton’s first law of motion – an object in motion tends to stay in motion.

The larger you mentally represent a process to yourself, the more activation energy is required. By committing to doing only 5 minutes, you’re lowering the activation energy required for setting the process in motion.

Another use of it is delaying. Whenever you’re tempted to give in to an undesired impulse, make it a habit to delay it and go for a 5-minute walk.

“What if I wanted to use 3 minutes instead of 5?”

“The numbers are not set in stone. They’re customizable. It is the ideas behind them that matter.

Experiment with them until you find your sweet spot.”

About Dani Trusca

Life-Artist, Thinker, Mover (Traceur)

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