Thursday, April 24, 2008

Use The 2 Minute Rule to Super Charge Your Productivity

Photo courtesy of Chance Agrella

Do you find yourself drowning in things to do? Do you have a hard time deciding where to begin and what to do? Are you overwhelmed when you look at your email’s inbox or you physical inbox? When faced with a lot of tasks or things to do, why not use the Two Minute Rule to help super charge your productivity?

While David Allen might not be the person that came up with the idea, I first really heard the idea from him in GTD (Getting Things Done). I have since seen or heard varying versions of it everywhere. The basic idea is that if an item takes less then two minutes to do, why not do it now? You might even say that the Nike “Just Do It” slogan is an offshoot of the idea, albeit a very high dollar, slick advertising version used to sell sneakers and sporting equipment. Two minute tasks can be almost anything, from making a phone call, writing and email response, to a wide variety of other things. The main characteristic of them is that they don’t require a lot of preparation (much of this should already be done in order for it to qualify as a Two Minute item) and that you have to be able to fire them right off.

By taking action on your items that take less than two minutes to do as they occur (in real time, in a physical inbox, an email inbox, that are already captured for you in some sort of to do list, or via some other method), you do several things:

  • You greatly reduce the possibility that the item(s) becomes lost in your to do list, falls through the cracks, or is just totally forgotten.

  • You avoid the hassle associated with capturing it in your to do list or system. Because these are items that take you less than two minutes to do, actually doing the item will often times take you less time than capturing it your system(s) and setting up the proper reminders.
    You actually accomplish something! I can’t help but think of a scene from Monty Python's Life Of Brian movie, where they go on and on about having a meeting to have a meeting to have a meeting (I’m sure that there has to be a clip of this on YouTube).
  • Quick and dirty way of getting things done. This already makes you more productive, without having to do a lot of preparation, planning, and other work often associated with reaching the end objectives to many of the things that we want or need to do.
  • You can win one battle against procrastination. Instead of putting things off or avoiding them, you’re moving forward.
  • You build momentum and motivation! You’re now becoming an unbalance force in Netwon’s First Law of Motion (often referred to as the Law of Inertia) where a body at rest tends to stay at rest and a body in motion tends to stay in motion with the same speed and direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force. Using the Two Minute Rule becomes the unbalanced force. Your productivity and motivation can now be that bolder building speed rolling down the hill instead of someone trying to roll the boulder up a hill. Once you get started doing something, it is easier to keep “doing” as opposed to trying to “get started”.
  • You are now “cranking widgets” and can get into a productivity “zone”, where you can focus only on the tasks that you’re doing. I’ll be going into more on “cranking widgets” in the next paragraph.

  • You can change gears. Sometimes you’re working on something or thinking about something and are at a roadblock as to where to go next or what to do next. Doing some Two Minute items can take your thoughts away from this and after you have completed some of them, you might find that break through that you were looking for occurs (either you have some new thoughts on it or something happens to influence your direction).

With so many things that you have to do, you have to define them (what it means, what needs to be done, and etc.) before you can do anything with them. In the defining of what needs to be done, it is easy to get lost in the decisions that you have to make and not accomplish anything. It is more taxing on your brain to have to make many of these decisions than to just do several of your Two Minute items. By working on your Two Minute items, you’re now doing what is referred to within GTD as “Cranking Widgets”. Cranking widgets is referring to manufacturing jobs where everything is defined and the worker knows the task(s) that they have to do, they can easily crank out 1000 widgets (or whatever the task(s) is/are) in the course of a shift as opposed to the many other people working out there that have to define their tasks. By switching from defining your tasks to doing a few of your Two Minute items, your mind changes gears and you might find that after cranking some widgets, that you can then go back to define and make those decisions about other more daunting tasks. With many of the other things that you want to do or have to do, you’ll need to define them properly so that you can get to the point where you’re “cranking widgets”.

By actually doing those small quick Two Minute items, you’ll feel productive and you can leverage this in a variety of ways. So why not use the Two Minute Rule to super charge your productivity? Are you using the Two Minute Rule and how do you use it? If you have any other comments, I’d love to hear them. If you liked this article, please consider subscribing to the blog via RSS or email, share it on or on Digg and pass it on to anyone that you think might appreciate it. Thank you. :)

On Deck…

I’ll be publishing posts about…

The next in my series of weight loss strategies
My next Spotlight on the web.
More on productivity, web 2.0, social networking, family, parenting, health, and other things that you can use.

Other Post That You Might Also Like to Read…

GTD Overview
Tips for Working on International Projects
Keep Your Projects Simple Stupid
Why Aren’t You Working Your “Someday/Mabe’ Projects?Why Not Create Tasks Right From Your Inbox?

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