How the Two-Minute Rule Saved My Life from Overwhelming Confusion
We've all been there. Life is busy—no, it's hectic. In the time it took to cross one task off your list, you've had to add three more. There never seems to be enough time to get everything done.
The last two years of my life have been about as busy as it gets. In that time, I've:
- Graduated college,
- Married the woman of my dreams,
- Grown an online business from scratch, and
- Welcomed our first-born son into the world.
And those are just the highlights!
Perhaps that's why I write so much about productivity.
After all, time is scarce. If we can learn all kinds of super-fancy life hacks and productivity techniques, there's a chance we can get everything done! Right?
In the past few years, I've practiced a lot of productivity techniques (including daily themes, today lists, and the Pomodoro Technique).
In that time, I've learned a lot—but the most powerful technique I've learned is still one of the absolute simplest.
The technique is called the two-minute rule. It's fairly straight-forward and easy to remember:
If you could complete a task in two minutes or less, do it now.
When you're presented with something that you could complete in a couple of minutes, there's no need to put the task off or add it to your to-do list. Doing so would only make your never-ending task list longer.
Each time you follow the two-minute rule, you unlock the power of quick wins. Every time you finish a task, you gain momentum that makes it easier to conquer the next one.
The two-minute rule is a productivity technique pioneered by David Allen in his best-selling book, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity.
Here are a few examples of the two-minute rule in action:
- You receive an email from a colleague, asking your opinion on a new project idea. Rather than mark the email as “unread” and come back to it later, you take a moment to send them feedback right away.
- You sit down (or stand) at your desk and notice a growing pile of letters and notes. Rather than ignore the mess and get straight to work, you spend the first minutes of your day decluttering the space around you.
- Your spouse asks you to take out the trash or put your laundry away. Rather than put it off until you “feel like it,” you stop what you're doing and take care of the task right away.
In each of these examples, following the two-minute rule leaves you better off and further ahead. It may mean a small inconvenience, but it's totally worth it in the end.
In addition to having the task completed and moving on to the next, you've saved yourself time that is typically wasted browsing to-do lists, looking over the same tasks you've had on there for weeks.
“Complete simple tasks first. Eliminate diversions from the work that matters most.”
Time is precious, and every moment counts. Your world is full of more opportunities than you could possibly pursue.
Question: What have you been putting off, that you could finish right now in two minutes or less?