How To Use The 20 Second Rule To Grow Your Business Much Faster

By making a handful of 20 second changes, building your business will be easier, more efficient, and far more profitable. It’s called the 20 second rule, and it works really well.

Let’s just get right into exactly how this simple strategy has enormous impacts on your productivity.

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What Is The 20 Second Rule?

In his book, The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor outlines the 20 second rule and how you can use it to break bad habits and form new ones.

Shawn uses playing the guitar as an example. He actively wanted to practice playing much more, but his guitar was stored in the closet. It would only take 20 seconds to go get it, but he discovered just that short amount of time and energy required was constantly deterring him from practicing.

He bought a $2 guitar stand and put it in his living room. By making it just 20 seconds faster to get his guitar, he started practicing much more often.

And that can be applied to every aspect of life.

My Own 20 Second Daily Struggle

While it sounds obvious in hindsight, this concept really spoke to me. Ever since I moved into our current house, my office is a pretty annoying walk from our main living area. Not because the house is massive, but I have to go all the way downstairs, then outside, and finally into the office.

Once I’m down here, I’m incredibly productive. It’s certainly a first world problem, but I don’t do any work at least half of the week because of the 20 seconds of time and energy it takes me to hike here. It’s just a lot easier to stay in the living area and ultimately do nothing productive.

So how do I – and how do you – apply the 20 second rule to building a successful business?

Form New Habits With The 20 Second Rule

Look at two things:

  • Everything you’re doing that isn’t productive.
  • Everything you’re not doing that would be productive.

For example, watching TV and scrolling social media are not productive. Researching content, writing, reaching out to other websites, reading success stories, replying to emails, and optimizing your articles for Google are all productive.

First, make the unproductive, time-sucking activities 20 seconds more difficult to do.

Leave your phone in a different room. Put the remote control somewhere else or take the batteries out. Log out of apps like Netflix. Set your phone to remind you when you’ve been on an app for too long, or just delete some altogether.

Create annoyance around these unproductive things so you are less likely to do them. After all, you’re only doing them because they’re so easy to do.

Secondly, begin making the productive things 20 seconds faster.

In my case, I could consider moving my office to a room closer to the living room. What are some things that are getting in the way of you starting or working on your business? Just some ideas:

  • Put your outfit for the day out the night before.
  • Pre-make food (or a smoothie) for the morning.
  • Create and keep to-do lists to spend less time figuring out what needs done.
  • Set up Google Alerts to get relevant content ideas.
  • Keep a helpful book beside your bed.

There’s no shortage of 20 second improvements you can make. When you make several, they add up and compound over time.

The 20 Second Rule In Other Parts Of Your Life

Even if you’re putting in the time, it’s really difficult to build a successful business if you’re neglecting the rest of your life.

Apply the 20 second rule everywhere.

Exercise: if driving to the gym is daunting, work out at home. If finding and putting on your gym clothes is annoying, go to sleep in them (clean, please) so you’re already wearing them.

Diet: if you’re not getting enough water, buy a 32oz temperature controlled bottle. In fact buy, 5 of them and keep one in every room so it’s always convenient. Organize your kitchen to prioritize your go-to meals.

Learning: if you’re not learning or practicing what you love enough, make it easier. Customize social media feeds and email alerts to only show you what you want to learn. Sign up for helpful newsletters that deliver information every morning at the same time.

Relationships: if you’re not connecting with people, literally set reminders in your phone to send a text or give them a call. Google date night ideas, so it’s easier to know what to do when you go out with your spouse.


When something is convenient, we often do it. When it’s inconvenient, we rarely do it.

Optimize every part of your life with simple 20 second adjustments, and you’ll see massive benefits. When it comes to building a profitable website, efficiency and discipline are everything. By using this simple strategy, you won’t need to change your entire life… just a few moments here and there to form new, better habits.

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Scott DeLong

I'm an introvert who has built and sold multiple companies for millions of dollars - without funding or employees. I've been featured in BusinessWeek, Business Insider, Fortune, Inc, and more. I hope you find my site helpful to your own entrepreneurial journey.