The Five Minute Mentality

“I’ll come back in five minutes, shall I?”That is the line my husband uses every evening as we put our toddler to sleep. He gets her ready for bed, I give her milk and read her a story, and in the few minutes it takes her to finish her bottle, my husband always leaves the room before coming back to take her to her bed.

For the longest time, this annoyed me to no end. “What’s the point in leaving for five minutes?” I would say to myself. “It’s just unnecessary back and forth.”

And then I did the math…


And dammnnnnn, do those five minutes that I was so dismissive of add up. I mean really add up: five minutes every day for 365 days equates to 1825 minutes or 30.42 hours or 1.27 days. Yes, just five minutes a day is the same as a whole extra day (and then some!) every year. Woah.

When I did the math, I was stunned. I mean what more could I do with an extra 1.27 days each year? How many more books could I read in 30.42 hours? How many more trips to the gym could I fit in? How many more blog posts could I write? How many more walks could I go on?…

We often dismiss – and squander – small increments of time because we think they are insignificant. We ignore the power of compounding. There are so many things about which we say “Oh, it’ll just take five minutes” and then we plunge in. But even if it does just take five minutes, are those five minutes being used in the best way possible?

I often get clients and students resist my suggestions to delegate small things because they say it only takes them five minutes to do and it’s just easier to do it themselves (sound familiar?). But using the math above, you can see how lots of little “five minutes here” and “five minutes there” can eat away DAYS of your year.

So what are you spending “only five minutes” on that you could or should delegate to someone else? What could you START to spend five minutes on each day to move you closer to one of your goals? Five minutes is never just five minutes (even when it is five minutes), because that “five minutes” mentality keeps so many of us stuck doing things that we should NOT be doing, or keeps us from starting things we should.

We underestimate the power of five minutes. Heck, I teach this stuff and I still find myself falling into that. It’s something we have to work on consistently. We need to pay attention to all the minutes. To paraphrase a famous saying: Take care of the minutes and the years will take care of themselves.

Do the math. And value your minutes.

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About Me
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The daughter of Indian immigrants, Rupal is a born-and-bred New Yorker now living near London. Her high-octane career as a CIA officer turned serial entrepreneur has taken her from military briefing rooms in jungles and war zones to corporate boardrooms and international stages.

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