Productivity Tip #1 : The 10 Minute Rule

by on 01 February 2017 | filed in Freelancing Leadership Procrastination Productivity Self Development Time Management

Steven Pressfield - The war of art

If you are anything like me, you may sometimes procrastinate a little. If not, then I envy you and hope to one day emulate you in every way. But for most of us, even those of us who see ourselves as driven and productive, there will be some tasks that we will…let’s say…postpone.

It’s usually those things that are either a little daunting or those things we need to do when we really don’t feel like doing them (for me, anything after about 8.00 pm). These are the jobs that we always leave until last on our to-do list, and therefore rarely get done until we are facing an imminent deadline. So we we hit the panic button, get our head down and realise that the job wasn’t that daunting at all, promising ourselves that next time we won’t leave it until the last minute, which we inevitably do, unless we make a conscious effort not to.

There are many tips and tricks (hacks) which really do give us a leg up when it comes to productivity.

We are all different, so some productivity hacks will work for you and some won’t. But you don’t know until you try (more than once please). So I’ll share some of those that work for me and that I’ve seen work for others. And I’m pretty sure that I have tried all of them. Remember, you are reading the words of someone who is, by default, a very unproductive person. So if I can become motivated and driven, anyone can.


This is one I came up with when I wrote my ebook, Go Do. Ironically I was writing a book on productivity and self-motivation, and finding it hard to make myself write. Yeah I know, but I got it written didn’t I?

This is a very simple one, but like all of these things, being simple doesn’t mean lacking in power. This one is huge for me and I still use this every time I need to do anything in the evenings. Once I get the kids to bed or had a break after a full-on day, I can find it really difficult to get going again. The resistance kicks in. So I tell myself to just sit down and do 10 minutes. That’s it. If, after 10 minutes I feel like I’m losing the will to live, in pain, or experiencing any kind of suffering, I stop and do something else. No question and no beating myself up. This works for a few different reasons:

1. I’ve learned over the years that nearly all the of things I imagine are going to be horrible to do, aren’t. How we imagine we will feel in certain situations is usually very different to how we will actually feel (this is always good to remember).

2. 10 minutes isn’t a very long time. So if we are feeling unpleasant and distressed, it’s only for 10 minutes.

3. After 10 minutes I’m usually getting into it and end up doing more than 10 minutes. My mind wakes up, I begin to feel reenergised and I feel rather pleased with myself for being all grown up and productive.

4. 2 never happens.

That’s it and for me it works like a dream. I’m not saying that you should be working every second, being productive doesn’t mean being super busy. We all need downtime and I don’t use this just for work tasks. It sounds like a bit of a contradiction I know, but I sometimes need to make myself do the things I enjoy. For example, I play the guitar and I’m currently learning the 5 string Banjo. I really enjoy it and it put’s me into a flow state. But I do tend to forget how much I get out of it, and it’s always tempting to leave it for another day. I know that ten minutes practice per night is better than none at all. So I sit and start, and more often than not I do at least 30 minutes to an hour. This also works great for any exercise. With most of these things, the hardest thing to do is to start.

Thanks for reading and remember, sometimes it’s just a subtle change in the way we think about something that makes all the difference. So if there’s anything you’ve been meaning to do. Go and do it, for 10 minutes.

Steve Faulkner is a leadership coach, speaker and magician.

Get in touch if you would like to speak to him, or you would like him to speak for you. 07786 323 127

featured image by udithawix on flickr https://m.flickr.com/#/photos/126915310@N08/