Jobs and the Future of Work

This 2-minute rule will help stop you procrastinating

People walk past clocks at reuters Plaza in London. Canadian publisher Thomson Corp. is in talks to buy Reuters Group Plc for about 8.6 billion pounds ($17 billion) to create the world's biggest financial news and data company, the two companies said on May 1, 2007.REUTERS/Jon Jones/Handout

This rule will help you combat your bad habits in just two minutes. Image: REUTERS/Jon Jones

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We talk a lot about science-backed methods for improving productivity and conquering procrastination. There are a lot of methods, hacks, and techniques that can change your bad habits for good. But the 2-minute rule is different. Creating new habits is hard, restructuring your work process is hard, change in general is real damn hard; we get that. But all the 2-minute rule asks of you is two measly minutes. We don't care who or how busy you are — you have two minutes.

Just Do It

The 2-minute rule comes from the same dude who brought to the world the "getting things done," or GTD, method: management consultant David Allen. While the GTD method is all about how to splice up your to-do list and prioritize what's really important, the 2-minute rule is a million times simpler. Think of it more as a way to move through your day-to-day more efficiently. At the same time, you'll find you're much more productive too. The 2-minute rule has two parts, and the first one could not be easier:

Part 1: If you can complete a task in 2 minutes or less, do it now. Immediately. Right now. Why are you still reading this? JUST GO DO IT ALREADY. There are so many easy, dumb things we put off that we could do in two minutes or less. Like, washing your dish right after eating a meal, throwing dirty clothes into the hamper instead of onto the floor, taking out the trash, sending out an email — should we go on? Nobody on this Earth is too busy to quickly knock out a two-minute task before moving onto something else they'd rather be doing. Try it and you'll see.

Start Small

The second part of the 2-minute rule is admittedly a little more involved. But just slightly. While the first step helps eliminate the tiny tasks that build up over days of not doing them, the second part is all about building new habits.

Part 2: When you start a new habit, make sure it only takes two minutes or less to complete. Okay, if your goal is to write a book and the new habit you're trying to create is to write every day, it'll be years before a daily two-minute writing session produces a full book. Not all habits can be done in two minutes. In fact, most can't.

The trick here is to create a two-minute habit the leads to your goal habit. If your goal is to go to the gym more, for example, your two-minute habit should be packing your gym pack. A two-minute task is easy to knock out, making it much easier to begin a larger, more time-consuming habit.

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