All this week I'm sharing some of the time management tips and tools I've been trying out, many of which are based on David Allen's Getting Things Done system. Today I'm going to talk about one of the parts of GTD to implement, The Two Minute Rule.
Allen's premise is that part of what gets in the way of our productivity are all the little items that pile up in our heads and on our desks, making us crazy. With the Two Minute Rule, we can clear many of them up immediately.
Here is the rule in a nutshell:
When something comes up that will take you two minutes or less to act on, do it now.
This seems pretty simple, but it's actually an incredibly powerful way to handle things, especially for procrastinators. who often think about some "to do" item and then another and another and another and pretty soon we're overwhelmed. We may write all of these things on our "to do" list, but then we'll just feel overwhelmed by the list. By implementing the Two Minute Rule, we can start to clear up many items immediately, creating both the psychic space and the time for the bigger items on our list.
I have to say that this rule has been working pretty well for me. I've installed the GTD Inbox extension in Firefox, which helps me use my Gmail account to help manage my activities. One of its cool features is that when I start to reply to an email, a 2-minute timer automatically pops up so I can get the email response done in two minutes or less. (Note that right now, you have to go back to the older version of Gmail to use this, as it's not yet compatible with the new one). You can also download this free Two Minute Timer, which will help you keep track of other tasks, too, like phone calls, filling out paperwork or forms online, etc.
An added benefit of the Two Minute Rule for me has been that I don't get bogged down in doing things that will take me longer than two minutes until I really have the time to do them. I've been notorious for flitting task to task in some very disconnected ways. Many a day has ended with me wondering what exactly I managed to accomplish. By asking myself if it's something I could accomplish in two minutes, I've been able to be a little more deliberate in planning my time, so I stay more focused on the work that needs to get done. This is one time management tip I highly recommend.