“It’s just 2 minutes!… and it’s a lot of time!”

Another one of my features at GTDtimes blog. It's about my favorite GTD rule - the 2 minute rule. Enjoy!
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“You have to think about your stuff more than you realize but not as much as you’re afraid you might.” David Allen, “Getting Things Done - the Art of Stress-free Productivity” Last week one of my dreams came true and I had a chance to participate in David Allen’s GTD seminar and talk to the “guru” himself in person. The great thing about this seminar is the fact that you can actually get a sneak-peak of how David applies his methods in his real life. He showed us his desktop, the applications he’s using and actually demoed to us his very own GTD workflow. One of the “a-ha” moments - 2-minute rule. When we talked about processing inboxes and checking email, he reminded us about the 2-minute rule: “Do it. If an action will take less than two minutes, it should be done at the moment it is defined.” We thought, “yeah, right… but what can you do in just two minutes?”. And then David went ahead and played us the 2-minute timer he has on his computer and asked us to watch it closely… the first 15 seconds… 30 seconds… and we thought it would take ages for the 2 minutes to go by… 1 minute to go… I’m bored already… and David said: “look, we’re just in the middle of the two minutes…” 30 seconds to go… and I thought 2 minutes was as very short period of time! You can get lots of stuff done in just 2-minutes! When I came home I quickly set up my very own 2-minute timer and started checking out what I could do in just under 2 minutes. Here are my results (in no particular order):
  • Read and reply to at least one email message. I discovered that when I’m in a “process-emails-to-zero” mode, I can process up to 3-5 email messages in under 2 minutes!
  • Read a blog article. I’m reading blogs a lot. Again, if the article is very interesting, it takes me usually 2 minutes to read, if I’m scanning, I can scan up to 10 or more articles in just under 2 minutes!
  • Write a short draft for an article. I’m using MindManager mind mapping software to write drafts of my articles. I wrote the draft to this article in 1 minute and 50 seconds! Of course it took me a lot more time to actually write this article, but I had my draft and outline ready!
  • Empty 5 or more items from my inbox before my weekly review. Again, quick decisions and quick processing… and all in just 2 minutes!
  • Perform online operations like online-banking wire transfers, paying bills, sending file attachments to clients or friends… all of these tasks that I’d normally put on my “action list” in Nozbe, I’d completed them so quickly that I couldn’t believe it!
The key to successful application of the 2-minute rule - quick decisions! My tip for you - in order to apply the rule successfully you need to decide fast what to do with the item you’re processing. When you’re reading an email - decide what to do now - reply if you can. If you can’t respond at this moment, convert it to an “action”. Don’t hesitate, don’t open email messages more than once! The same applies to anything you process. Decide fast, don’t think too much. “Just do it. Nike” ☺ Try it for yourself! What can you do in 2-minutes? Let me know in the comments! Please challenge me and let me know what you discovered you could do in under just 2-minutes and I’m hoping to learn something new myself. I’ve known about this rule for so long and never really applied it and now I’m glad I finally did. You’ll amazed yourself. I’m sure of that. I’m actually so happy about this rule that I’m adding a small javascript 2-minute counter to my Nozbe web application (the feature will be out next week) to remind my users that maybe before you add a task to Nozbe, it can be done in just under 2-minutes? BTW, it took you around 2 minutes to read this article… Wasn’t that fun?

Posted on Wednesday, May 7, 2008