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The 2-Minute Rule: Effective Time Management

We have all experienced a state of overwhelm. Even the most organized individuals sometimes postpone some of their tasks. How to deal with it?

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Each of us has probably experienced a state of overwhelm. Even the most organized individuals sometimes find themselves postponing tasks for later. According to many studies, we tend to procrastinate even simple and quick tasks, resulting in their excessive accumulation. At some point, we realize that we have to do several or even dozens of things at once, creating an unnecessary stressful situation. How can we regain control over this?

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Before starting a specific task, we usually begin with planning. However, it happens that the activity we are supposed to perform does not require much effort, and it turns out that the thinking process took longer than effective action.

Procrastinating simple tasks such as replying to a client's email, calling the mechanic, or starting the washing machine can make us feel overwhelmed. Oh my, I have so many things to do... it's definitely too much! Dealing with these issues can be quite easy by applying the so-called two-minute rule.

The 2-Minute Rule - How does it work?

If a task will take you 2 minutes or less to complete, do it right away” — this technique allows us to significantly shorten and simplify the decision-making process, each of which consumes a lot of our energy, which we obviously need to work more efficiently. Instead of pondering whether we feel like replying to the client in the morning or evening, I ask myself a quick and simple question - can I complete this task in 2 minutes? If yes, let's do it! Similarly, other similar tasks such as starting the washing machine or calling the mechanic can also be completed within 2 minutes.

After a while, you will notice that tasks that you had planned to take at least an hour to complete, have all been done in just a few minutes, eliminating unnecessary overwhelm. Remember that in this technique, it's not about literally 2 minutes of your time, but rather about short tasks that need to be done.

Why the fascination with this technique?

Why is it worth completing tasks that take less than 2 minutes immediately? Our brain definitely likes simplicity and clear rules, such as the "2-minute rule", because it can simplify decision-making and save a lot of energy. However, it turns out that we are easily influenced by momentary moods, and such a simple rule quickly becomes a habit in our thinking. There are several reasons for this. Here are some of them:

  1. Short tasks, when done immediately, do not burden your mind. You don't have to constantly think about them,
  2. Managing short tasks takes much more time than their immediate completion,
  3. A smaller number of tasks on your to-do list means less frustration and, in particular, a mental relief that comes with seeing fewer tasks to be done!
  4. Quickly completing several short tasks makes you feel much more efficient.
  5. You eliminate smaller distractions.

When it's not worth using it

Of course, like any method, this one also has its negative consequences, which can be summarized into two main points:

  1. If short and urgent tasks keep coming in, we can completely fill our time with them, disregarding whether they are important or not. We may live under the illusion that we are accomplishing tasks at a very fast pace, but after some time, it will become apparent that we haven't achieved anything that has a more long-term significance.
  2. The 2-minute rule can significantly weaken our ability to concentrate. If we always prioritize immediate completion of 2-minute tasks regardless of the moment we are in, it may turn out that we never achieve maximum focus.

If you plan to start using the "2-minute rule," you need to remember the habit of asking yourself about the importance and urgency of a task. It's also worth scheduling time blocks where you eliminate all distractions.

Remember! — Do not fill your life with insignificant things that can damage your ability to focus for longer periods of time.

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Leszek W. Król

Leszek W. Król

On a daily basis, I accompany companies and institutions in designing strategies and developing new products and services.