The 2 minute rule is a simple productivity method that you can apply in various situations throughout your day. As it’s so easy to follow, it will help you to get things done instead of wasting time thinking about the task or how to get it done.
The 2 minute rule follows a simply principle:
If something takes less than 2 minutes to do, just do it!
Why? Because it will take more time to organize the task and put it on a to-do list than simply completing the task.
Among productivity experts, the 2 minute rule is very popular and comes originally from productivity guru David Allen who first talked about it in his book “Getting Things Done”.
It makes sense to just do something instead of thinking too much about it, if it really just takes 2 minutes to do. However, you obviously don’t want to jump mindlessly from one task to the other, but apply this rule when it makes sense the most.
To apply the 2 minute rule successfully you need to keep in mind your priorities.
The 2 minute rule is not the saying that whenever some new task comes up, just because it takes 2 minutes to do, you do it right away.
Keep in mind that most of the time, things that can be done in less than 2 minutes have a lower priority and are smaller tasks like cleaning your dishes, bringing out the trash, answering a quick email, making that phone call etc.
That is why you should apply the 2 minute rule in two specific situations:
1) When something goes hand in hand with something else
These are situations in which you are doing something anyway, so while you’re at it, you can also complete this other task without spending too much time and effort.
For example leaving the house for work while also bringing out the trash. You’re going out anyway. If you do it later you would need to make a solo trip just for bringing out the trash.
Another example is confirming a meeting and marking it directly in your calendar. They go hand in hand instead of you having to remind yourself that you also need to mark it in your calendar.
2) When you have a short window of time
These are situations where you have too little time to start or continue with a bigger task, but which are great to complete tasks that don’t take longer than 2 minutes.
While the first situation requires more of an effort in becoming a habit, you can help yourself in the second situation with a 2 minute list.
Those short windows of time appear often unexpectedly and are often not well used in terms of productivity. Usually it’s a short gap between meetings or a forced waiting time because something or someone is in delay.
Those times often feel as lost, but if you’re prepared for it, you can actually get a lot done. That’s when having a 2 minute list comes in very handy.
When preparing your to-do list, immediately mark the tasks that require less than 2 minutes to do with a distinctive sign or keep a separate 2 minute list where you write down all those tasks.
Whenever you’re presented with a short window of time and you still want to be productive, you can simply look at your 2 minute list and complete a few tasks with very little effort. 10 minutes means 5 things, and that’s 5 things more done at the end of the day!