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Linda Farmer, Certified Zentangle Teacher


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Tangle Refresher 214 – Exploring the 5-Minute Rule, our random string, plus how to draw Rixty, Jesterstick, Festoon Holiday, Slowpoke, Jester

More than one tangler has commented to me lately that they’re finding it “hard to get going”. Not unusual or unexpected under the prolonged and demanding pandemic circumstances.

Their sentiment reminded me of “The 5-Minute Rule” that I wrote about a couple of years ago.

With the thought it might help nudge my faithful readers in a forward direction, for today’s Buried Treasure we’re revisiting that article:

When it comes to creative interests outside of Zentangle®, I find it hard just to get started. Do you know what I mean?

Zentangle has the decisions already made for us when it comes to format, size, media, color, tools and so on. It’s a perfect, well-thought-out solution for jumping in and getting going. Rick and Maria knew exactly what they were doing — and who they were helping — when they created the Zentangle Method™.

But when it comes to my other creative interests, my mind is an overwhelming whirl of project choices and decisions, or indecision as is usually the case.

I can be a {really good} procrastinator. There’s always some thing on my to-do list that “needs” to be done before I can get to the creative activities I’d like to explore. And I have a whole binder of project ideas and prompts and tutorials just itching to go.

It’s classic avoidance and seems I’m not alone in this pickle.

But there’s a cognitive behavioral strategy that could make a difference …

If you’ve been with me for a while you’ll remember I’m a fan and a long-time subscriber to the late Canadian artist Robert Genn’s The Painter’s Keys eletter, now published by his daughter Sara. “This twice-weekly letter began in the winter of 1998 by my dad”, notes Sara. The letter is always interesting, eclectic, educational and inspiring.

One of Sara’s recent letters entitled “The five-minute rule” observes, “Weekly, an email comes in describing similar avoidance.”

The most popular modern antidote to procrastination is what cognitive behavioural therapists call “The Five-Minute Rule.” Based on Newton’s First Law of Motion, it works on the premise that things in motion stay in motion and things at rest stay at rest. You really only need to get moving to start coasting in your new activity.

Make it count in the direction of creativity by making your five-minute burst art-related. Let it morph into an indulgent chunk of in-the-zone soul-polishing productivity.

Interested in learning more about The Five-Minute Rule, I went on a little internet excursion.

A Huffington Post article notes,

the biggest magic of the five-minute rule comes from the fact that often, for procrastinators, starting is the hardest part.

Uh, yah. Check that box.

A blog from a California cognitive behavioral therapy practice explains the 5-minute rule in a way that makes sense to me,

The 5-minute rule is a cognitive behavioral therapy technique for procrastination in which you set a goal of doing whatever it is you would otherwise avoid, but only do it for five minutes.

If after five minutes it’s so horrible that you have to stop, you are free to do so. Mission accomplished. Done.

However, what most people find is that after five minutes of doing something, it’s easy to continue until the task is done.

Setting the intention and starting is usually the hardest part.

By thinking about the task as something that may take only 5 minutes, it feels much less overwhelming and a lot more doable.

I hope you find this helpful for those “getting started” moments too. Because, as Sara quotes from the great racing car driver Mario Andretti, “If you wait, all that happens is that you get older.” I’m sure Yogi Berra must have said something equally sage.

If you’d like to sign up for The Painter’s Keys twice-weekly inspiration for artists letter, look for the SUBSCRIBE link near the top of this page.


Many tanglers like to use these occasional Tangle Refreshers as their Zentangle® challenge-of-the-day.

This TanglePatterns String was selected for today – either to go with today’s Buried Treasure or just to use as a starting point for your day’s tangling. The RANDOM TANGLE SELECTOR in the left sidebar makes it simple to choose a String-of-the-Day from the 250 free strings in our resource. Or just click on the STRINGS tab in the pink alphabetic tangle menu bar and choose one at random yourself.

Think of this as your tangle Challenge, if you’re so inclined. TanglePatterns String 081 is from CZT Linda Fine and was originally posted here.

TanglePatterns String 081

Right click and SAVE to your computer; then print. Pinning or republishing content from this site is not permitted. Copyright notice is posted on the bottom of every page. Thank you for playing nice and respecting these rights.

Remember that Zentangle strings are always drawn freehand in pencil so that they magically disappear when you’ve finished tangling the tile.

A string is a simple device to “divide your drawing surface into sections to be filled with tangles“.

In the Zentangle PRIMER Vol 1 (now available in paperback for $23.95, or as an instant download Kindle Edition $9.99) there’s an entire section devoted to Strings which in part explains:

As you tangle, your strings disappear as if by magic. This adds to the charm and unified appearance of your completed art. If you had used a pen to draw your string, you would still see the initial sectioning in your completed creation.

Strings are not intended to be the focal point of your tile.

More String advice from The Book of Zentangle (now available in paperback for $19.95):

A string is a useful reference, but it is not an impenetrable barrier. Practice going outside your string. It will help increase your ability to think outside the box.

To download eBooks containing all 250 TanglePatterns Strings, visit the STORE > EBOOKS page.


The Tangle Refresher series, aka Buried Treasure, spotlights hidden tangle gems from the past. It can remind you of tangles you might not have used for a while or introduce you to some you haven’t come across yet.

Here are five more tangle pattern gems and a Tangle Refresher from a year (or two) ago for your tangling pleasure. Remember to check out the “More Good Stuff” links below too.

BTW as you visit these tangles please do leave a comment of thanks and encouragement to show the artists you appreciate them for sharing their creativity to inspire yours. And please share a link to your favorite tangles with your followers on all your social media. Thanks!

Zenful tangling!

Buried Treasure from the tangling past
Zentangle pattern: Rixty. Image © Linda Farmer and ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. You may use this image for your personal non-commercial reference only. The unauthorized pinning, reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Rixty
Zentangle pattern: Jesterstick. Image © Linda Farmer and ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. You may use this image for your personal non-commercial reference only. The unauthorized pinning, reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Jesterstick
Zentangle pattern: Festoon Holiday. Image © Linda Farmer and ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. You may use this image for your personal non-commercial reference only. The unauthorized pinning, reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Festoon Holiday
Zentangle pattern: Slowpoke. Image © Linda Farmer and ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. You may use this image for your personal non-commercial reference only. The unauthorized pinning, reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Slowpoke
Zentangle pattern: Jester. Image © Linda Farmer and ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. You may use this image for your personal non-commercial reference only. The unauthorized pinning, reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Jester
Revisit the Tangle Refresher from a year ago Tangle Refresher 185

More good stuff …


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7 comments to Tangle Refresher 214 – Exploring the 5-Minute Rule, our random string, plus how to draw Rixty, Jesterstick, Festoon Holiday, Slowpoke, Jester

  • Joyce Blodgett

    Being a lifelong (67 years) “master procrastinator” myself, I’ve figured out that as long as I can get that first step in, no matter the chore/errand/activity, I can typically also finish it. How long it takes doesn’t matter, mostly–I’m retired, so other than the Sabbath, I’m not “on the clock,” and can do the “to do’s” in my own time frame. It’s that all-important first step, though, that has to be taken…and lately, because I’m unable to sleep for more than four or five hours a night, I’m up at 2:00 or 3:00 a.m., listening to a particular recorded program, drinking a cup of coffee, and working away on what I’ve dubbed my “Can’t sleep, so let’s draw” series of ZIAs -:D

  • This is a fabulous, well written, thoughtful, and helpful post, Linda. Thank you for sharing your insight and wisdom.

  • Barbara Langston

    Thank you for sharing the 5 minute rule. I definitely needed this reminder, especially now.

  • Melena

    Well, this has been up for 4 days now. I’ve procrastinated long enough getting to this. I’ve heard of the 5 minute rule (probably here), but I had forgotten about it. And these days it’s so easy to put things off. I’ve even been putting off my Zentangle practice. So I am very happy to see this. Thank you for bringing this back Linda!

  • Sue Brown

    I did not know the 5 minute rule, but it sure is applicable to me. Thank you so much for the article. The “too many things to do so I won’t do any” is something I find myself doing all the time. I am going to start applying the 5 minute rule today!!

  • LLS

    I totally agree with Esther when she said that this is a fabulous, well written, thoughtful and helpful post, Linda. I have never heard of the “5 minute Rule”, but it makes sense. I am a procrastinator. I have had two quilt tops cut out for over a week. I have started, but I need to get them DONE! Thank you for the encouragement to get moving!
    I keep getting sidetracked looking at articles on your web site!

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