The 5 Minutes Syndrome


By Umer Raza


You might have heard this sentence often. In offices “I am calling you back in 5 minute”. “I will be with you in 5 minutes”. “ I will send you email in 5 minutes” “Just 5 minutes more”. Or in homes “Son you have 5 minutes, just close your smart phone and go to bed” “Yes mama I will be at table in 5 minutes”. “Dinner is ready in 5 minutes”.


How often do we keep track of these 5 minutes. Do we do anything of the above in 5 minutes or we take more. Probably no one bothers that 5 minutes pass very quickly. In today’s fast paced world where days and weeks and months are swiftly passing by, what to say about 5 minutes. We all have got into this illusion that 5 minutes are enough for us to do what we promised to do.


Often we see all of the above is not done in 5 minutes, but usually takes longer. No one bother, as of course it does not seem a big deal. Most, if not all have understood that if one is saying 5 minutes, it means 10, 20, 30 or more and in some cases whole day in coming back of the person who said 5 minutes.


I often feel how badly this fabric of communication has woven in our society. No one understands that this seemingly small thing has huge impact over us and our relationships.


Ever heard about “Over promise, under deliver”. Is it something only about sales people or those who are in business. It is in fact something to be taken care of by all of us, in our daily lives.


When we say something and do not deliver, once it creates a negative impact, twice: it creates a blot on attitude, thrice it becomes a habit and more on… takes away our trust. And later it becomes a norm and destroys the fabric.


This is what has happened to us where it has become a norm of the society. In our society, where over the last couple of decades the self-help literature has taken firm root and all have understood that self-help literature is the order of the day. One matter that all self-help material talks very often about is Self Discipline.


Self Discipline is something that makes waves in our personal development. It helps us to shape our lives and creates a stress free daily life. Just imagine you have promised someone to call back in 5 minutes and you could not. You had a genuine excuse, you could never have called back in 5 minutes as you were busy in a talk, meeting or were over another phone. You did not control someone else. You wanted to get back in 5 minutes, but the one with whom you were busy, did not let you go and you remained hooked for longer than 5 minutes. However, once you made a promise to call back, it was your promise and once failed to deliver, you have not fulfilled your promise. Now when you called some one after many minutes, first thing you did was an excuse, or said sorry as you were calling back late. It took you on the back foot immediately and you started the conversation with a negative score.


Although you have just said it and not said the word “I promise to call you in 5 minutes”, yet it was a word uttered by you and became a promise. I usually remember this worse in Quran at such situations, which does not mention about the promise but states the general principle of our saying and not doing what we say.


O you who believe! Why do you say that which you do not do. (Quran 61:2)


A solution: We must not complicate the stuff, right. So we must look for simple solutions and with simplicity must strive to fulfill simple injunctions of Allah. When we are in office or at home or anywhere, we all understand that we have the propensity to forget as we are hooked up with a number of distractions. So instead of 5 minutes, say those minutes or time in which under your circumstances you feel you could easily get back to the person or do what was required. Indeed a simple yet useful solution that will help us to “Over deliver and Under Promise”, building our trust with our people, clients, friends, family and colleagues. Nothing more just a simple genuine manner.


May you have happy and fruitful 5 minutes……many 5 minutes that is.



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