We’re faced with many small tasks every day. There’s the message you need to answer, the dishes that should be put away, and the cloth on your bedroom floor. While these tasks by themselves are small, how you handle them will influence your productivity and the likeliness of procrastination. The 2-minute was created as a guideline to help you make the right decisions here.
Let’s have a look at what the 2-minute rule is, how to use it, and alternative uses.
What is the 2-minute rule?
The 2-minute rule was created by David Allen in his productivity book Getting Things Done. The rule states:
“If you can do a task in less than 2 minutes, do it straight away.”
Putting the dishes away after every meal doesn’t take long. But let them sit for a week, and you might have to spend an hour. Suddenly a small simple task grew to something large and difficult. This is what the rule wants to avoid.
The rule aims to increase productivity and decrease procrastination. It does so by helping you to get the small things done quickly instead of letting them pile up.
Benefits of the 2-minute rule
The 2-minute rule is great for helping you overcome procrastination and increase productivity. Besides these benefits, the 2-mintues rule can help you:
Accumulate small wins
A small win is the feeling you get when you do something small but good for yourself. As they accumulate, you’ll increase your self-confidence, be more motivated, and focused. All things which are crucial for reaching any big goal.
The 2-minute rule is great for helping you achieve many of these small wins quickly. Every time you do something good for yourself, you’ll get one. And if you do all the small tasks straight away, you’ll collect 10’s of them every day.
They’ll soon start to accumulate, and everything might seem a bit easier.
Create a habit of getting things done
Your ability to get things done is mainly controlled by habit. The more you do what you have, the easier it’ll become.
The 2-minute rule urges you to start small tasks immediately. No excuses and no delays. At first, it might be hard. But it’ll be easier as you practice and do it more often.
Over time, it won’t just be the small tasks that’ll be easier to start. It’ll be all tasks. If you follow the rule consistently, you’ll soon create a habit of getting things done.
Keeps the list of unfinished tasks short
A long to-do list is overwhelming. The higher the number of tasks, the harder it’ll be to get started.
The 2-minute rule ensures that your list of unfinished tasks is short. It helps you finish all the short tasks before they can enter your to-do list.
As the list gets more concise, it’ll be more useful. You’ll be more likely to get it all finished without feeling overwhelmed.
Related: Journaling for productivity
Build self discipline
You might not always feel like doing small tasks. But if you follow the 2-minute rule, you’ll get them done. The process of doing the difficult things when you planned to can help you build self-discipline. Which, in itself, is an invaluable quality.
How to use the 2-minute rule
The 2-minute rule is quite simple. But there is a things you can do to make it more effective. Below you’ll find 3 tips that can help you use it effectively.
Do small tasks straight away
Do the small tasks straight away. If it takes less than 2 minutes to do, do it right now. No excuses and no delays. This is the core of the 2-minute rule.
We aren’t able to concentrate on more than one thing at once. We’re quickly switching attention from one thing to another when we multitask. This constant change in attention requires a lot of energy and produces sloppy work. Long-term use of multitasking can even result in worse concentration and a constant need for stimulation.
If you multitask during your small tasks, you risk being exhausted when it’s time to do more meaningful work. Avoid multitasking both when following the 2-minute rule and in general.
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There’ll always be reasons why you can’t do something. You might be tired, don’t feel like it, or tell yourself you don’t have time. There’ll always be some validity to the excuses, but rarely enough to listen to them. The more you listen to and trust your excuses, the more likely you’ll be to continue doing so.
If you want to get the benefits from the 2-minute rule, you have to ignore the excuses. The more you practice this, the easier it’ll be.
Alternative uses of the 2-minute rule
The 2-minute rule is a tool to get the small done. Over time, there have been made modifications, so it can help with several areas. Let’s have a look at how you can use it to start large tasks and build better habits.
Use it to start large tasks
The 2-minute rule can be used in a similar way as the 5-minute rule.
You can use it when you struggle to get started with a large task. This might be hitting the gym, writing a project, or cleaning your apartment. Here’s how.
Find one part of your task that you can complete in under 2 minutes. Maybe it’s getting changed into your gym clothes, creating an outline for your writing, or filling the dishwasher. Find something that takes less than 2 minutes to complete but is connected to the large task.
There are 2 benefits to this.
- It’ll be easier to get started as your first goal is simple.
- It’ll put you in the right mood to continue and do whatever you have to do after.
Use it to build better habits
When we do something new, we weigh the expected reward against the expected effort. If the effort is higher than the reward, it’ll be difficult to do and form the habit.
James Clear created a version of the 2-minute to minimize effort and help you build better habits. Here’s how.
Find the smallest possible version of the habit. If possible, something that takes no more than 2 minutes to complete. This might look like:
- Instead of reading a chapter, you can read a page
- Instead of running for an hour, you can run 2 minutes
- Instead of writing a page in your journal, you might write one sentence
Finding the smallest version of the habit will help you slowly build the habit of showing up. As showing up becomes easier, you might begin to prolong the activity until you reach an output you’re okay with.
The 2-minute rule is a small rule that can help you increase productivity and decrease procrastination. The rule states: “If you can do a task in less than 2 minutes, do it straight away.”
Using the rule is like most other things, a process. It might not be easy from day 1, but over time, it’ll become automatic. Be patient with yourself in this process and let the habit form.
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