Being productive can be hard. Especially when productivity looks different for each individual. What someone might find really easy and quick to do, another person might find really tricky.
Productivity is subjective. You could have read all the self-help books and guides there are and still not be able to improve. However, I am here to tell you that you CAN improve your productivity. How? Well, let’s start with the 2-minute rule:
The 2-minute rule is a game-changer when it comes to productivity. Here, we’ll explain what exactly the 2-minute rule is and the best way to apply it to your life.
What Is The 2-Minute Rule?
The 2-minute rule was developed by the author and productivity consultant David Allen. The rule is simple and was created as a means to combat procrastination. For those guilty of procrastinating a little too much (I’ll look away), the 2-minute rule is a godsend.
But what is the 2-minute rule?
Easy. The 2-minute rule is this:
If something takes 2 minutes or less, do it immediately.
That’s it. That’s the rule. 2 minutes or less? Then get it done.
Allen was able to get down to the root causes of procrastination and figured out why people do it. People procrastinate because of many different reasons. Laziness is one of the few reasons and is more of a symptom than a cause.
Some of the reasons are perfectionism, fear of failure or criticism, low self-esteem, avoidance, depression, and even trouble focusing. Using the 2-minute rule, he was able to cut out all these reasons for procrastination and instill one single reason to do the task.
If it takes less than 2 minutes, then do it.
The 2-minutes rule will help you overcome major obstacles standing between you and achieving goals. When you implement the 2-minute rule into your life and follow it, you’re ready to tackle anything. Let’s dive right in. Here are some examples where the rule applies:
Emailing – If you are constantly putting off emails, you can do it in 2-minutes. It’s probably one of the easiest tasks to get out the way because it doesn’t require you to actually get up. All you need is your phone or computer.
Setting Reminders – We’ve all been there. A meeting was scheduled at 11 am, but you didn’t realize until 11:10 am, and now your job is looking a lot less secure.
In order to avoid this frustration, set a reminder for 1 hour before the original meeting time, so you don’t forget. This takes 2 minutes and actually works to get you to the meeting on time.
Getting Up Early – If you’re one of the people that wakes up, closes their eyes for two seconds, and then suddenly it is noon the next day, then this is for you.
You essentially put off and procrastinate waking up. This is either because of avoidance, feeling overwhelmed, or anxiety.
If you struggle to get out of bed every morning because you have to think about what you’re going to wear, brush your hair, breakfast, etc., try making those 2-minute decisions the night before. And then waking up the next day is a lot easier.
How Can You Implement The 2-Minute Rule In Your Life?
Now that you know what the rule is, how do you go about implementing it? Here’s a 3-step process to doing just that.
Step 1 – Get Rid Of Everything Else
Get rid of distractions such as social media apps, games, and television. Not permanently, just while you’re being productive. Those are downtime things and not for while you’re working. Once you’ve taken away these things and replaced them with quality activities, you’ll be ready to start using the rule.
Step 2 – Write Down A list
Once you’ve removed everything non-essential, write down the top 10 (or 20, or whatever number according to you) most important things you have to do today.
Don’t worry about timing. Just do it. Do not wait any longer. Don’t waste another second. Go ahead and schedule these tasks. Now that you’ve got them written down, it’ll be obvious when they take longer than 2 minutes to complete.
There are many things you may want to accomplish, but if they take more than 2 minutes to complete, then you should prioritize them according to which are the quickest to complete. If it takes only 2 minutes, then you should prioritize these first.
Importantly, chunk down what you have to do. For example, if you need to meet with your boss, do not write ‘meet with the boss’. Chunk down the task. You need to call your boss first to schedule a meeting, which is a task that will take less than 2 minutes.
Step 3 – Executing
Once you have created your list, the last thing to do is execute each item. What does executing entail? Well, it means taking action on your list immediately.
Remember, the reason why we procrastinated originally was due to avoiding the task and being overwhelmed. By following these three steps, you are eliminating the ‘overwhelming factor.’ Instead, by implementing this rule and working hard towards accomplishing your goals, you’ll find yourself being a lot more productive.
The 2-minute rule is excellent to use for productivity. Allen was able to easily identify the reasons behind procrastination and used this as a guide. His research was incredibly valuable in helping us realize that we’re rarely lazy, we’re just procrastinating because of an underlying issue.
And whatever the reason is, the 2-minute rule can help you overcome it with gusto!
The best part about this method is how quick it is and how easy it is to incorporate into your life. In your brain, if something takes only 2 minutes, then it’s unlikely you’ll procrastinate, because procrastination will be longer than the task.
Thus logic wins. Or so we hope. Remember, this method will rely heavily on your own self-control and discipline. So make sure you’ve got the right motivation.