If you ever find yourself struggling with procrastination – maybe your putting off that paper you have to write, delaying your outlining, or telling yourself you’ll definitely start that project first thing tomorrow – don’t worry, you’re not alone. Even the most diligent and committed law student is going to have moments where they find it difficult to complete a study task. But efficiency, productivity, and, frankly, the ability to get things done even when you don’t necessarily enjoy them, are essential qualities of a successful law student, and lawyer. So if you tend to procrastinate, it’s important to find strategies to help you overcome that tendency. You’ll likely need to employ many strategies to help you beat this bad habit, but one strategy you should definitely keep in your arsenal is the 5 minute technique.

The 5 minute technique is simple. All it requires is that you make yourself sit down and work on whatever assignment you’ve been procrastinating for 5 minutes. That’s it, just 5 minutes. Anyone can do something for 5 minutes, no matter how boring or difficult the project. Once the 5 minutes are up, evaluate how you’re feeling and try to make yourself work for 5 more minutes. If you can keep going, great. If you don’t keep going, at least you will have started the task and made some progress, however, small.

The 5 minute technique is effective for a few reasons. First, it helps you to get started on the assignment, which is often the most difficult part. People generally find it easier to keep working on a project once it’s been started or to resume working on a project. Second, the 5 minute technique breaks the project down into units of time that are extremely manageable. You might be overwhelmed at the thought of working on a brief that you will take you eight hours to complete, but you’ll be much less intimidated if you only need to a mere 5 minutes at a time. Lastly, the 5 minute technique eliminates excuses. You may be able to come up with a lot of excuses for not starting a big project, but you probably can’t come up with many excuses for avoiding 5 minutes’ worth of work.

Law school success requires consistent, methodical preparation, so you must train yourself to stop procrastinating. Next time you see yourself putting off that big project or difficult assignment, just give it 5 minutes!