The Quick and Easy ʺ20 Seconds Ruleʺ

We often have to play small games with our minds to get them to do what we want.

In "The Happiness Advantage", author Shawn Achor introduces what he calls the ’20 Second Rule’:

"I took the guitar out of the closet and set it up in the middle of my living room. Nothing had changed except that now instead of being 20 seconds away, the guitar was in immediate reach. …

I put the desired behavior on the path of least resistance, so it actually took less energy and effort to pick up and practice the guitar than to avoid it. Lowering the barrier to change by just 20 seconds was all it took to help me form a new life habit."

What things can you move closer to where you work to make you more productive?

An example of something I have moved closer to me is the ‘Writing’ folder on my computer. Not having to sift through a bunch of nested folders truly reduces the friction to writing every day. It may seem like a small change, but it’s one that has been worthwhile.

And the opposite works, too.

What distractions (that deplete your willpower reserve throughout the day) are within 20 seconds of your desk?

Is there a snack table right outside of your office? Or a candy jar on your desk? Or a bag of chips in the next room?

20 seconds may not seem like a lot of temporal distance when it comes to derailing distractions, but it is. Taking the candy jar off of your desk, or moving the bags of chips in your kitchen cupboards to the basement are both very simple, and very positive changes you can make to your life.