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The two Two Minute Rules for defeating procrastination

The two Two Minute Rules for defeating procrastination

By: James Wondrasek / March 18, 2022

There is so much we need to do and even more that we want to do. The two most common stumbling blocks that get in the way of our goals are the trauma of getting started and the burden of the countless little things that need doing.

It turns out there is a clever strategy for overcoming each of these obstacles. The strategies for each obstacle even share the same name. Great minds think alike and all that.

The Two Minute Rule for little things

The first two minute rule is from David Allen, the creator of the Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology. GTD is a complex and detailed system for, as the name says, getting things done. Some people swear by it.

David Allen’s Two Minute Rule is this: if you come across a task that you can do in two minutes or less, do it immediately. Don’t procrastinate. Just do it.

The reasoning is that the time taken to record the task and then subsequently manage it whenever you revisit your task list ends up being close to the same as it would take to just do the thing right now.

So send that one line email response instead of scheduling it. But don’t let it interrupt the current more important task you’re working on. Stay focused. Hit those little things in between the larger ones.

Some people extend the 2 minute rule to 5 minutes. Some people reduce it to 30 seconds. Experiment to find what works for you.

The Two Minute Rule for starting things

The second Two Minute Rule is from James Clear, author of Atomic Habits. The book, as you might guess from the title, is about establishing effective healthy habits in your personal and professional life.

His Two Minute Rule is this:

“When you start a new habit, it should take less than two minutes to do.”

Why? Because convincing yourself to go for a run is harder than putting on your shoes. But putting on your shoes is the first step towards that run. And once you’ve taken that first step, and get comfortable taking that first step, the rest gets easier.

Examples he gives of the Two Minute Rule:

  • “Read before bed each night” becomes “Read one page.”
  • “Do thirty minutes of yoga” becomes “Take out my yoga mat.”
  • “Study for class” becomes “Open my notes.”
  • “Fold the laundry” becomes “Fold one pair of socks.”
  • “Run three miles” becomes “Tie my running shoes.”

These smaller steps let you master the challenge of showing up. And that’s the biggest part of the battle.

Conquer your world two minutes at a time

Put these two Two Minute Rules to work for yourself today. Do some two minute tasks when they pop up. Start that new workout, that new novel, that new project today with one tiny little step. Then do that tiny step again tomorrow. And keep going until you reach your goal.


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