How the 2-Minute Rule Can Streamline Your Life

Last Updated Oct 24, 2008 11:58 AM EDT

523438942_c9b1b820ea_m.jpgHow much can you get done in two minutes? You might be surprised. One of the tenets of David Allen's popular Getting Things Done approach involves jumping immediately on tasks that'll take you two minutes or less. It's a direct approach to clearing out all the little stuff that, if left unchecked, can take over your to-do list and make your life unmanageable.

Why two minutes? It's a bit of an arbitrary measure, says Andre Kibbe on Tools for Thought, but it's basically to enforce the idea that it's a short action. But he suggests the busier you are, the more you should adhere to the two-minute guideline.

Some examples of two-minute tasks might include writing a thank-you note, making a dinner reservation, asking or answering a yes/no e-mail, doing a quick Google search, filing a document or folder, or making on online purchase.

The major benefit of implementing the two-minute rule is that it gets rid of all the small stuff before it adds up to big stuff. It de-clutters your desk and your mind and enables bigger actions -- for example, the first step in launching a new initiative may be to gather all principals for a meeting, something that can easily be accomplished with a quick invitation via Outlook.

How can you enforce the two-minute limit? There are a number of downloads that can help, including a GTD 2-Minute Timer app for iPhones, GTD Inbox for GMail, or a free two-minute timer for .NET. And there's always the old-fashioned approach: use an egg timer.

Do you have any suggestions for using the two-minute rule? Share them in the comments section.

(image by openDemocracy via Flickr, CC 2.0)

  • CC Holland

    CC Holland is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and a number of national magazines. Online, she was a columnist for and writes regularly for and BNET. On the other side of the journalism desk, she's been a managing editor for ZDNet, CNet, and KCBS-TV in Los Angeles, where she earned an APTRA Best News Web Site award.