The Two Minute Rule

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However you manage your schedule, it’s easy to get caught in the trap of adding absolutely everything to it because, man, that feeling of crossing something off of it just feels so good.

But David Allen (who wrote the terrific Getting Things Done book) has a quick and dirty tip that will spoil all of that fun – the Two Minute Rule. I love this rule because even though it will ruin the fun of crossing a bunch of little things off of your list, it’s like a shield that defends your to-do list from unimportant things, and it gives you less things to do in the first place!

The Two-Minute Rule: When you realize you have to do something (or receive an email about something you have to do), if it will take less than two minutes, do it. If it will take more than two minutes, schedule completing it later.

In practice the rule works incredibly well. It takes the thinking out of prioritizing tasks and picking which one to do. It’s very easy to end up losing a ton of time to scheduling tasks to complete, organizing your emails, and so on. When you just do something, you eliminate all of that cruft. As Allen put it in a recent interview, the rule “is actually tricking you into making an executive decision about what is the next thing that needs to happen and that’s really the training people need”.

It’s quick and simple, but it’s also really freaking effective.

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