The Two-Minute Rule

Would you like to extend your life by 6 months? Then follow this simple rule: “If you can get an action done in less than two minutes then do it now!”

This works because it will take you longer than two minutes to write it down on one of your lists of NEXT ACTIONs, recall it when it’s appropriate, figure what it’s about and get in done – so just do it.

This can be as simple an action as “I need to refill my fountain pen”. By the time you’ve written that on your list you could have done it so just do it!

Once you’ve got to the DO phase you’ve only three options:

  1. DO it now if the action takes less than two minutes.
  2. DELEGATE it to someone else if you’re not the most appropriate person to do it.
  3. DEFER it by putting it into your system on one of your CONTEXT lists as something to be done later.

Some people seem to get hung up on what they can do in exactly two-minutes. It’s not the time that’s important, it’s the principle. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a minute or ten – it’s just a rule of thumb. If you think you can get it done “in the moment” then get it done and out of the way.

It’s a useful technique to use when you’re doing your WEEKLY REVIEW. You may want to restrict the cutoff to one minute if you haven’t got much time or extend it to ten if you’ve got plenty of time.

The two minutes isn’t a hard and fast(!) 120 seconds. Use your common sense. Perhaps another way to phrase the rule is “if you can do the action in less time than it would take to put it on your list, retrieve it at a later date, and do it then. Do it now”

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