The reasoning behind the two-minute rule

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.

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Time Management

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  • 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.
  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 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.

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.
David Allen

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

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David allen

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

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The Danger Of The 2—Minute Rule

It’s easy to loose track of time after starting a 2-minute task. Although it’s a good thing that you can immerse yourself in a task that you had to use the 2-minute rule to begin with, losing track of time may leave you behind on everything else.

Pay attention to your schedule and prioritize properly.

It helps you decide when to tackle a task by following the steps below:

  1. Define clearly what is the task and the actions that compose it.
  2. If the action takes less than two minutes, do it, although it is not an urgent or high-priority task; if not, defer it or delegate it.
  3. If you do not achieve the result of the task with the action, identify the next action and process it following the same criteria of the previous step.
  4. If doing a task will take less time than processing it, organizing it in your lists and tracking it timely, it is more efficient to do it right away.

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