Personal Growth

The 5-Minute Hack for Beating Procrastination Used by Instagram's Co-Founder and CEO

Chances are, you're procrastinating on something today. Maybe you're doing it by reading this article (great choice, by the way). Lucky for you, we've got one of the easiest tips for curing your procrastination right now, right here, courtesy of the founder of Instagram. Ready to get to work? Of course you are — you only need five minutes.

Gimme Five

If you think self-made billionaires don't need help staying on track every once in a while, you're wrong. Take Kevin Systrom, CEO and co-founder of Instagram. In an interview with Mike Allen at Axios, Systrom shared his favorite — and face-palmingly simple — life hack: "If you don't want to do something, make a deal with yourself to do at least five minutes of it. After five minutes, you'll end up doing the whole thing." That's it. Just commit yourself to five minutes of whatever it is you're trying to do.

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

According to Systrom, that five-minute commitment ends up turning into you just doing the damn thing. Maybe that seems oversimplified or unlikely, but it could just be that easy. Think of that oft-repeated phrase: Getting started is the hardest part. Because humans are creatures of habit (40 percent of your life is just on autopilot, for goodness sake), change is uncomfortable, scary, and undesirable. Change is hard, says another one of those ubiquitous quotes. Your fear of failure can never come true if you never change, right?

According to a 2010 study, people prefer things that have been around for a long time. In one instance, participants who were told that acupuncture had been around for 2,000 years expressed more favorable attitudes toward it than those who were told it existed for 250 years. In our tiny little human brains, longevity equals goodness. Change is the antithesis of longevity. Whether that be on a large scale, or just the day-to-day switching from task to task, change is a mental hurdle. Once you're over that little hump and get yourself going, you'll be golden. Objects in motion tend to stay in motion, after all.

We all need a little help beating procrastination. Check our S.J. Scott's book "23 Anti-Procrastination Habits: How to Stop Being Lazy and Get Results in Your Life." The audiobook is free with a trial of Audible! If you choose to make a purchase through that link, Curiosity will get a share of the sale.

Why Do We Procrastinate?

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Key Facts In This Video

  1. Procrastination might have a genetic component. 01:07

  2. Early ancestors who prioritized short-term goals and put off things with more distant and uncertain rewards may have been better at surviving. 02:07

  3. People who chronically procrastinate are sometimes found to have higher levels of stress. 05:10

Written by Joanie Faletto January 31, 2018

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