Time Management

96 SAVED IDEAS

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

@franciscoaw46

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.
When being focused feels challenging

With everything that is happening around us in the world, concentrating can feel impossible.

  • We then resort to multitasking. But multitasking distracts our brains and prevents us from enjoying true focus. The more tasks we try to do at a time, the more cognitive energy we burn.
  • Another problem is overfocusing. Unfocusing - purposefully letting your mind wander - is key to improving focus. The brain works best when we toggle between focus and unfocus.

Schedule some breaks into your workday and allow your mind to wander freely into the "default mode network."

The network is where the mind finds innovation, creativity and regularly make better decisions than the focused mind.

This means first turning your attention inward.

Spend about twenty minutes trying to think of someplace enjoyable while doing some form of low-key activity, such as walking, knitting, or gardening. Doing this throughout the day can help your mind gain a fresh approach to the job at hand.

Our days are full of distractions. Blocking out distractions is essential when we want to dive into deep focus—for example, turning off text messaging, notifications, and social media alerts.

Plan to respond to your phone and other screens after you've completed a period of sustained focus.

Learn to understand your body clock. Are you alert in the morning, or do you prefer working at night?

Schedule your most important projects during the period of peak performance. Resist the temptation to use that time for busywork.

Finding new hobbies is not only exciting, but it can help us discover new solutions to the problems we're facing at work or home.

Allowing your mind time to play helps innovation that is not possible when focusing on a problem.

It provides a reset time to consider what's really important.

Intentionally setting aside some time away from our screens and their interruptions can help us focus on the world outside our screens.

The Focused Life at Home

The goal of the focused life at home is to choose where to spend your time.

Unfortunately, our free time fails to live up to our ideal and instead of spending time on our hobbies, books or familiy moments, we get caught in the low-quality leisure trap - easy and available distractions like phones, television and social media, rather than the pursuits that actually matter.

Most of the meaningful things we could do in our free time require some kind of effort. And we sometimes lack the energy to do them.

We all want to be on our phones less, spend more time with our family, or dedicate ourselves to our hobbies. Except the day ends, we’re tired, and all of the things we value seem too difficult. 

The feeling of effort is a sensation of opportunity costs. When you’re doing anything, and an alternative activity promises to be easier and more immediately rewarding, the activity feels effortful.

This explains why people could spend all their time reading in earlier eras. They could do so because this activity didn’t need to compete with cheaper stimulation.

Conquering Every Day with Time Logs

A time log is a producitivity-inducing tool that helps us keep track of the things we dedicate our time with. It provides a comprehensive overview of how our time is being spent.

Since the goal of the time log is to boost our productivity and efficiency, it does that by showing us how much time we really waste by not keeping track of time.

  • You are able to find where you are falling behind and then you can organize your work.
  • You’ll know just how much time you’re spending doing professional or personal tasks.
  • It will help you stay focused and on track and will give you the tools to hold yourself accountable.
  • You’ll begin to notice that your performance and your progress will grow over time.
  • Tracking your time and recording it allows you to see how much time specific tasks take when you’re staying focused and productive.
  • Tracking your time can help you get more out of your efforts. And create a schedule that works best for you.
  1. Find the right digital time tracking tool that suits you. Digital time tracking tools can accurately track your time down to the second and it is not as time-consuming as a manual time tracker.
  2. Set time goals and track down your results.
  3. Assess your time log results and readjust to meet your needs.
Working at Night

There is an inverse correlation between the number of hours we work and the effects it has on our lives.

Studies point out that 40% of people are working at night (after 10 PM.) The same studies show that knowledge workers are only productive for 2 hours and 48 minutes a day (working on their most important tasks).

  • Turn off work devices before 10 PM and tuck them away. It is about making it difficult for yourself to work.
  • Put books everywhere in your house. Make it harder to work at night and easier to read.
  • Use sleep mode, if this option is available to you. Since most of us want our phones available for emergencies, use sleep mode on; it locks your screen and doesn't display any notifications.

One of Aesop's fables is about the race between the tortoise and the rabbit.

In life, we have both inside us. One urges you to go fast; the other to go slow, but steady. Sprinting at times is good, but we should not think we can always rely on our speed as we will burn out. We achieve more by making a little progress every day.

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