The Power of Two, Two-Minute Rules (in Less Than Two Minutes)

Who doesn’t want to be more productive or establish some good habits?

Thanks to David Allen, best-selling author of Getting Things Done, and Jame Clear, author fo the best-selling Atomic Habits, there are two simple methods that anyone can use to achieve these goals.

Each author uses what they refer to as the two-minute rule.

In Allen’s case, the basic idea is that if something comes up that will take less than two minutes to complete, it’s better to go ahead and do it rather than taking the time to add it to your to-do list and revisit it again later. This could include tasks such as:

  • answering an email
  • washing your dishes right after a meal
  • taking out the trash
  • paying a bill online
  • reading Borden’s Blather

In Clear’s case, the basic idea is that when you start a new habit, it should take less than two minutes to do. Clear claims that nearly any habit can be scaled down into a two-minute version:

  • “Read before bed each night” becomes “Read one page.”
  • “Do thirty minutes of yoga” becomes “Take out my yoga mat.”
  • “Study for class” becomes “Open my notes.”
  • “Fold the laundry” becomes “Fold one pair of socks.”
  • “Run three miles” becomes “Tie my running shoes.”

So there you have it; two productivity tips for the price of one (actually for free).

And if you’ve got a couple of extra minutes to spare and would like to learn a bit more about each of these techniques, here is a Pinkcast where Daniel Pink talks with David Allen about increasing productivity, and an excerpt from Atomic Habits by James Clear that goes into more detail on how to start a new habit.


22 thoughts on “The Power of Two, Two-Minute Rules (in Less Than Two Minutes)

  1. I agree, two minutes is enough time to do basic things. I wish they incorporate that at the atm machine. Most people take 5-6 minutes. It only take me ones. I feel like unprepared people are most un productive. I’m loving the 2 minute rule


  2. I think Allen got it right. It’s better to take care of business when at the time when it’s fresh in one’s mind. My only question—why is Borden’s Blather at the end of the list? Move it up, Jim. 😎


  3. Oops, I’d better add “proofread my responses” so that I catch the grammar errors before I send them.


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