- One productivity tip says to do a task immediately if it takes two minutes or less to complete.
- I adhered to it for a week to see if it would really help me boost my productivity at work.
- It was surprisingly helpful in managing stress, and freeing up time and energy for more important things.
As we kick off the new year, many people are approaching their goals with renewed determination.
I’m one of them, and recently I’ve been looking for ways to boost my productivity to make quicker progress toward my goals. During this search, I came across the two-minute rule, which says you should do a task immediately if it takes two minutes or less to complete.
I’d heard of this before but never tried it, so I decided to test it out for a week to see if it would help me.
Before starting this experiment, I’d often just keep a mental list of small tasks to do later. Although none were particularly challenging or time-consuming, they piled up quickly, and this could become overwhelming at times.
I often have a lot of short tasks on my plate first thing in the morning — checking my email, responding to messages, reading up on what I missed while I was out, scheduling calls. With the two-minute rule, I got through them quickly, and I found that finishing a lot of tasks, however small they were, made me feel productive. This in turn motivated me to maintain this efficiency, imagined or not, throughout the rest of the day.
I also didn’t need to remember a list of tasks for later; they were in and out of my head in two minutes. This in turn helped me feel less stressed and freed up some mental space, energy, and brainpower for more important things.
One hurdle I ran into was simply getting used to a new strategy.
The two-minute rule runs counter to other time-management techniques, such as the Eisenhower matrix, which I often use. Eisenhower’s famous method requires categorizing things as urgent or not and important or not; from there, the only things you do immediately are things that are both urgent and important. Throughout the week, following the two-minute rule required some adjustment since so many of the tasks I did immediately under this rule are things I wouldn’t have done immediately under my usual time management technique.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised how effective the two-minute rule was for me.
Having a sense of accomplishment in the first half hour of the day helped me stay on track for the rest of it. It’s also a pretty good calculus: The weight off my shoulders and the clarity restored to my mind from getting things out of the way always outweighed any small inconvenience that arose from a task in two minutes.
I’m happy with the benefits it brought me in just one short week, and I just may incorporate it into my regular routine for all the weeks ahead.