Get Motivated in 10 Minutes

The 10-minute rule is a cognitive behavioral trick often used in therapy when folks suffer from a lack of motivation, which is often associated with depression.  The concept is that you feel pretty down, often exhausted and have very low energy so the last thing you want to do after you’ve forced yourself to go to work is to take care of your home or yourself. Depression often tries to convince you that you can’t do a lot of things or that those things you’re thinking of will take forever and you’ll hate doing them. So the idea is that you do something for 10 minutes and if after 10 minutes has passed (yes, you can really set a timer) you can stop.

Hm, I’m skeptical. Why 10 minutes? 

Most people can do anything, even stuff they really dislike, for 10 minutes. Usually, once people get going and feel accomplished they continue to do it. Most of the time, this trick works by tricking your brain out of lack of motivation. You make a deal with yourself (and your depression if it’s around) “Okay only 10 minutes of chores” and then by the time 10 minutes is up you’ve established quite a bit of momentum. Not only is it not as bad as you were thinking it would be but you’ve already gotten one thing done!

10 Minutes of Chores

I’m overwhelmed with choices, where do I start?

You could pick the thing you know you will enjoy the most when it’s done – like how lovely a well-made bed looks or a clean kitchen. You can pick the thing you dislike the least or which is quickest to complete. Or the thing that you know absolutely needs to get done. It’s up to you, doesn’t matter really because starting is the hard part.

The best part about this trick is that you can use it anywhere. Don’t want to go to the gym? Just go for 10 minutes. Don’t want to work on that huge project at work? Work on it for 10 minutes and see what you can get done. Don’t want to plan your meals for the week? You get the idea, work on it for 10 minutes.

If some of these things have built up (first a two days of dishes in the sink, then more than a week) due to depression, so you wouldn’t be able to do these things in 10 minutes, be kind to yourself. Ten minutes is better than zero minutes if that’s all you can get done, and you’ll have a few clean dishes to use. And you can stop when the timer goes off, or if you’ve built some momentum maybe you can go for another five minutes. Either way, you’ve accomplished something, which is super hard when depressed. This blog post is not meant to stand up to months of depression holding you back. A good therapist can help and if you need to connect to one, feel free to call or email me.