David Allen

"If an action will take less than two minutes, it should be done at the moment it’s defined".

Francisco W. (@franciscoaw) - Profile Photo


Time Management

The two-minute rule is a defence against procrastination.

However, it is important to understand the reasoning behind the rule. The little tasks that pile up on our to-do lists start to snowball and eventually feel insurmountable. We spend more time thinking about not doing the task and feeling guilty about it than just doing it, such as filing a receipt, tidying your desk, or wiping a mirror.

  1. Completing quick tasks. Often, the little tasks like needing to book a doctor's appointment or sending an email can fill our minds and haunt us. The longer we put something off, the harder it seems to do.
  2. Starting a big task. We often avoid ambitious or ambiguous projects because we don't know where to start. The two-minute rule comes in handy to pull us out of procrastination. A large project starts with identifying one small step that you can do in two minutes to get started.
  • The two-minute rule is simple and straightforward to implement.
  • It prevents procrastination before it starts. Instead of adding a task to a list to do in the future, it can be done now.
  • It creates momentum. Doing a small task now propels you towards the next task.
  • It builds a habit of taking action immediately.
  • It's flexible. Two minutes is just a guideline. You can extend the cutoff to five or ten minutes.

Communicate quickly. Never hold up communication with these two-minute responses:

  • Respond to an email or text message.
  • Respond to a work message.
  • Provide a requested approval or sign-off.

Get rid of digital clutter

  • Delete or hide apps cluttering your phone's home screen.
  • Unsubscribe from annoying emails.
  • Empty your computer trash folder.

Get rid of chores

  • Wash the dishes you just used.
  • Organize your home office desk.
  • Water the plants.
  • Sweep the kitchen floor.

The two-minute rule has one risk: context switching. We can fall into the trap of completing two-minute tasks when we should be prioritising deep focus.

  • Block off time for focused work. Demanding and complex work often needs a long period of intense focus without distractions. During this time, put the two-minute rule on pause.
  • Carve out time for two-minute tasks. The best time to use the two-minute rule is during periods of procrastinating on a bigger task.

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