Why the ‘Second Rule’ will destroy your procrastination

Feb 19, 2018 Blog  Entrepreneur , Procrastination


Elle Kaplan, self made Entrepreneur and financial expert, published a very interesting article on how neuroscience offers a simple trick for stopping procrastination in its tracks.  Below follows a summary of the article.

You have a giant to-do list with deadlines, commitments and targets and don’t know where to start.  That means, like everyone else, you are under the spell of ‘procrastination’.  Because we procrastinate, it slows down our progress and we end up accomplishing less and less.

Best-selling author and CNN reporter Mel Robbins wrote a book “The 2 Second Rule” in which it states that “the moment you have an instinct to act on a goal, you must act on it immediately (within five seconds), otherwise your brain will start leaning towards procrastination”.  It says that this technique lets your brain eliminate doubt and fears that prevents you from performing.

Kaplan says that there is some solid scientific reasoning behind this rule.  It you make no-brainer decisions, like jumping in a pool to rescue a drowning child, you are driven by the fast-thinking part of the brain – in this case, the emotional part of your brain – no time is spent analysing the action, you just do it.  However, most tasks use the rational part of the brain with which we constantly analyse the best approach of handling things.  It is slow and inefficient and can be made worse by stress.

So, we need to end this procrastination cycle by activating the proper parts of the brain.  According to Kaplan, this is how we do that:

Savor the discomfort

We need to remind ourselves that with every great accomplishment, there should be sacrifice and hard work involved – after overcoming the hard part, the rewards are greater.

Take baby steps

“Harvard research suggests that breaking down your goals into tiny, daily steps is the easiest way to reach those huge successes, and it is much easier to make that initial leap if you’re not thinking of a daunting goal”.

Stay away from distractions

Try to intentionally put away the things that will keep you away from achieving your next milestone – this way you allocate your energy by finishing your to-dos rather than stalling around.

Reflect on your goals

Constantly remind yourself of your goals and keep in mind that if you don’t act now (or in the 5-second window), your will remain the same person that you were yesterday, so act on it!

Stop multitasking

Try not to do everything at the same time – concentrate on one task and take the time to think and act.  “If you want to get things done, choose to do it, and do one thing at a time.”


To overcome all the negative habits, you need to be willing to suffer in the first 5 seconds before things become lighter.  Learn how to endure those initial difficulties and chances are there will be promising rewards in your personal and professional life.

Read the full story here.


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