The Daily 5 Minutes: How to Get Started

Preface: We are within a full week dedicated to rediscovering the power of the Daily 5 Minutes. If you are a new arrival to Talking Story, I recommend you start on this page, and then come back here.


The Daily 5 Minutes will be optimally effective for you, if you use the first one you do with someone to prep them. Use it as a time to set the stage for every D5M which may follow, letting them know what it’s all about. For remember:

  • You have read my articles about The Daily 5 Minutes, but chances are they haven’t!
  • Since the other person sets the agenda for the conversation content, they have a role to play, one you must ask them to accept. You do so by making your very first D5M with someone an invitation.
  • The D5M should be a NEW conversation between you, new in both tone and expectation, and not more of the same you have had before.

Let’s refresh our D5M intentions with the basics:

The Daily 5 Minutes (D5M) is a conversation you give to another person, as a gift of your full attention and good intentions. Get language triggers to help you: When you invite them to “Take 5” with you, they should know the conversational agenda is of their choosing, and you are giving them your all-in listening time so they will feel completely heard and valued.

I am going to cover two different kinds of invitations in this posting, and you can choose the one which is best for you. You may end up using both (at different times), for these invitations are tailored to your D5M receivers:

  1. Within a workplace team
  2. Within a personal network

For those who are participating in the D5M challenge/Ruzuku alpha from November 2 through 17, I recommend you focus your habit-building challenge on a team of no more than 5 people. You will still do just one D5M a day, and therefore, by day 15 they will each have had 3 of them, and you can see how it progresses for them ”“ after all, they are creating a new habit too, one of talking to you! So choose the invitation which you feel will work best for the people you have chosen as your D5M receivers and co-builders of the habit.

1. Within a workplace team

A quick and easy way to get your receivers on board, and excited about getting the D5M from you, is to reprint the excerpt within my book Managing with Aloha, and simply share it with them first.

It is just 761 words long (half the size of this blog post);

  1. Ask them to read it
  2. Tell them you would like to try the Daily 5 Minutes, and share your reason why (something as simple as, “I know we both jump into work each day, and probably don’t talk as much as we should, and I want to be sure I never take you for granted.”)
  3. Ask them if they will help you, being willing to be the “talker” so you can be the “listener”
  4. Ask them to begin by thinking up some informal, talk-story conversation topics to have at the ready when you start
  5. Tell them you will look for 5-minute opportunities in the next few weeks which will be convenient for both of you

You need not buy the book: (though I would love that too :) You can find the excerpt right here in the Talking Story archives: The Daily Five Minutes, and here it is in print-ready .pdf format.

Here is the workplace key: The D5M is a new conversation, and not the same old-same old of “Hey, how’s it goin’?” skim-the surface small talk you had before.

2. Within a more personal network

The Managing with Aloha excerpt was written with a likely audience of middle managers in mind. You can use the exact same invitation format covered above if you like, but you may find it gets you into more explaining than you really need to get into, because those in a more personal network have a different relationship with you.

The MWA excerpt does give the impression you are hoping for work-related topics, and that’s great if you are a manager, for it cuts to the chase! However, those in other relationships might struggle with that, getting the impression that coming up with an agenda for you is too much of a stretch, when it really isn’t at all; you just want to give them the gift of your listening attention! The subject matter is actually less relevant (though that is not something you want to say to them!).

So my recommendation is that you skip the printed excerpt altogether, think about your reasons for choosing this person who will be your “talker” in the D5M, and focus on the conversation outcome you are hoping for with them. Put this ”“ all of it, the learning of the D5M, and your habit-building ”“ into your own words, and explain it to them in the way that will best set the stage for you.

For example, it might go something like this” If you read this out loud, you will notice that the dialog takes less than 2 minutes:

“Hey Jen, do you have about 5 minutes for a quick conversation?”

“Yeah sure, what’s up?”

“I’m trying to create a brand new habit that’s designed to help me be a better listener. So I heard about this practice called the Daily 5 Minutes, and I want to try it. Pretty simple. The way it works is that I invite people I care about to have a 5-minute conversation with me when we both have the time free. The ‘daily’ part is habit-building for me, so just once a day with different people, and I’m hoping you’ll be one of those people. That means I’d initiate the Daily 5 Minutes with you about once in a week’s time.”

“Um, okay, sure. What do I have to do?”

I start it by simply saying, “Want to take 5?” as an invitation ”“ a kind of language cue, because if it isn’t a good time for you, no problem, just let me know and we’ll try another time. But if you are free then, I turn it over to you: It’s your time to talk to me about anything you want to talk to me about, and I’ll concentrate on listening to you, and responding to you. We both commit to keeping it within the 5 minutes ”“ even if you decide to bring up an issue we need to reach an agreement on.

“Sounds like a plan, I can handle that. And don’t worry, I think I’d go for the light and easy instead of any heavy-duty issues.”

“Well, from what I understand, the 5 minutes and the habit part of it is designed to help people work their way up to quick problem-solving at some point if they need to, but I think there’s a ton of stuff we just never get around to talking about, and this might help us cover it, kinda like killing two birds with one stone. Mostly, I know I can be a better listener than I am.”

“Me too. We’ll help each other with this.”

“Thanks Jen, I really appreciate your helping me. I’m committing to my habit-building in November, so that’s when you can anticipate me extending the first invitation.”

Any other thoughts or questions?

If so, let’s talk story! Comment boxes are open.

Have you signed up for our D5M/Ruzuku alpha test?

If not, catch up on that info here: Ready, set, alpha!
It is completely free to those of you who participate, and will last for 15 consecutive days, helping you build your own D5M habit in the Managing with Aloha way —with me as your coach. Ruzuku provides us with a virtual learning environment built around support and encouragement. You commit to a challenge and then report periodically on your progress all the while supporting and being supported by the community going through the same thing you are.


Here are some bonus links you can check out:

1. Within a workplace team

Lisa Haneberg talks about the value of this in the posting she did at Management Craft: Give an Employee Five Precious Minutes.

Rich Griffith offers some of his experience with the D5M in Daily Five Minutes for your life.

2. Within a personal network

Rick Cecil talks about the value of this in the posting he did for Ruzuku: To be supported, you must first support


  1. says

    So glad you found my slight re-interpretation of the D5M useful. I’ve been thinking about how this applies to me given that MBL is such a small company and that I work from home. I think it’s easy to overlook the importance of just spending time and listening to people in your support network (especially if it’s your spouse!). And know that I have certainly been taking my wife for granted these past few weeks (birth of baby and alpha launch been keeping me busy — no excuse, really, though!). Anyway, I’m looking forward to the challenge starting on Monday. :-)

    • Rosa Say says

      Your article was great Rick!

      Doing this week’s worth of posts about the D5M has been somewhat tricky for me Rick, for I have been doing it for so long now (and coaching it organizationally as a cultural practice) that I am aware it can appear to be too detailed and structured and thus open to the yeah-buts;

      “yeah, I see the value in this, but I’m not in this situation””
      “yeah, I could work on my approachability, but I’m not meeting new people regularly, and my peeps know me””
      “yeah, I wish I got more of these from my boss, but I’m not a manager””

      I have to constantly remind myself that “getting into” the D5M is not about the structure or circumstances being just right, it is about our intention to give a gift of attention to someone else. That’s the heart and soul of it, and where the goodness comes back to you, no matter how you approach it.

      The alpha challenge is about creating the habit which puts us on automatic-pilot in a good way.

      Like you, I work from home a lot or I’m on the road, and I have begun to use GMail chat for my D5Ms virtually, sending those in my network who are aware of what it is a chat-ping “Aloha, can you Take 5 w/me right now? Good time/bad time?” when I see their green status availability.

      Here is another take from Leah Maclean (from a comment she left here in the Talking Story archives)

      Thanks for the reminder about the daily 5 minutes Rosa. In fact you have given me cause for thought.

      Just because I don’t have staff, as a solopreneur, doesn’t mean that I can’t employ the Daily 5 Minutes strategy. I can in fact use this strategy for the most important people in MY business ”“ my top-rated clients. 5 minutes with 2-3 of them each day would take me less time than grabbing a coffee and more rewarding, for both them and me.

      Gee I love it when good wisdom such as your 5 minutes can be taken into left field.
      Be well ”“ Leah