Abandon the 2-Minute Rule

Discussion in 'PUBLIC: Discuss the GTD Methodology' started by PTKen, Jul 18, 2017.

  1. PTKen

    PTKen Registered

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    A lot of people love the two-minute rule. I have always adhered to it while trying to be true to the letter of GTD, but I finally realized that my approach was wrong. In re-reading the book again (the 2015 edition), I found that David Allen actually says that, in fact, in fact, a "rule" but a guideline. If you have more time and want to extend it to five or ten minutes, that is fine. If you need to get to the bottom of the stack quickly, then make it 30 seconds.

    Somehow I overlooked this the first dozen times through the book. I always seem to pick up on subtleties when I reread it. Now I use the 30-second rule, especially when my processing coincides with my weekly review. It makes my reviews much more efficient. What are others doing?

    I wrote a short article about this topic:

    http://bit.ly/2tDuz1e
     
  2. Cpu_Modern

    Cpu_Modern Registered

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    I don't care anymore. I just do the stuff in the inbox and if something turns out to be to heady for the moment I generate the NAs etc but otherwise I just clear the inbox somewhere before noon.
     
  3. patrickkamin

    patrickkamin Registered

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    I think you are missing out on a lot of opportunities if you reduce the 2 minute rule to 30 sec. In my opinion your processing shouldn't be driven by time constraints to quickly drain the stack. Reading your last posts in the Forum here, your biggest problem seem to be the length of the Weekly Review.
    If you watch the GTD Connect Member Podcasts on the Weekly Review, the major advise to reduce the time of the Weekly Review is splitting up the individual pieces. When I started with GTD, I never got to the 'Get Current' part as my processing simply took too much time.

    Nowadays I never process or 'Get Clear' as part of my Weekly Review. I go straight to the 'Get Current' part which bought me so much time and reduced my Weekly Review time to 1 - 1.5 hour.

    However this means that I process daily between 60-90min. Also on the day of the Weekly Review, but not as part of my Review itself.

    Patrick
     
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  4. Gardener

    Gardener Registered

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    I don't do any version of the two minute rule--two, one, thirty seconds, anything. I've found that it distracts me much more than it's worth. It's a flow thing.
     
  5. TobyTrigger

    TobyTrigger Registered

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    Or create a context "<2 minute" actions, so once processing is done you can rattle them off. Also, use a timer to add urgency and check if they are really only taking 2 minutes.
     
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  6. bcmyers2112

    bcmyers2112 Registered

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    I use the two-minute rule all the time and it works wonders for me. So often all it takes to start or keep a project moving along is a quick action like a one or two sentence email. I love experiencing how something small can be the catalyst for eventually achieving something big. Prior to GTD I couldn't take advantage of opportunities like that.

    When I first started I used a timer so I could get used to what I could actually accomplish in two minutes. With practice I got pretty good at estimating without the help of a timer.

    Yes, it is a rule of thumb rather than an absolute, inviolable rule. I think it's good that you've learned to be flexible about GTD. When I first started practicing it I treated it as though it was filled with magical incantations or complex chemistry experiments that, if performed incorrectly, would lead to disastrous outcomes. The reality is that GTD does not demand such precision. It's OK to use your intuition, and color outside the lines with it.

    While it's great that your "30 second rule" works well for you, I wonder if even that may be a bit too inflexible. The point of the two-minute rule of thumb is that you take care of quick actions when it makes sense. If it doesn't, then you don't. I think you can trust your own intuition about this more than you realize.

    I think @patrickkamin offers good advice about managing your weekly review. Here's another idea: if it's feasible, clear out your inboxes the night before your weekly review. I like to do mine on weekends, or very early Friday morning, which are times my inboxes are unlikely to refill very quickly. This has removed some of my resistance to doing the weekly review.

    And ultimately I'd suggest relaxing your attitude about GTD. It's OK not do it perfectly. In fact, doing GTD imperfectly is the only way it can be done -- we are all imperfect beings living in an imperfect world. Just give it a reasonable effort.

    Think of it this way -- DA himself says he falls off the wagon all the time. Think about it. The guy who developed the methodology, refined and validated through decades of personal experience, one-on-one coaching and group seminars, falls off the freaking wagon all the time. But he has learned to get back on as often as he needs to. I actually think that's the key to success with GTD.
     
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  7. Gardener

    Gardener Registered

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    I like this. My issue with the two-minute rule is disruption of flow, and this would eliminate that issue. It does depend, of course, on a system where it takes substantially less than two minutes for me to get an action into a context, but in a electronic system I'd say that it takes maybe ten seconds, so that works.
     
  8. TesTeq

    TesTeq Registered

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    #GTDheresy :shock:
    2-minute rule was defined for actions that you DO NOT put on any list!
     
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  9. TobyTrigger

    TobyTrigger Registered

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    Haha! I like being a heretic!

    Isnt customizing the GTD process to your life part of the path to mastery? This isnt a list to track and review and therefore take more time than the 2 minute rule: its a list you rattle off within 24 hours, instead of constantly interrupting your review process completing potentially trivial tasks at the risk of much distraction, rabbit holes, and it easily spiralling to more than 2 minutes as humans are notoriously bad at predicting the time it takes to complete a task.

    The review process would take the same amount of time anyway, its just prioritizing getting current and feeling in control over "update playlist with shazam indian resturant song", which leads you to struggle getting internet reception, getting it, going to add it to the playlist but getting distracted by a new release, then choosing where in the playlist to put it, then testing your new playlist for 20 mins...

    Edit: the 2 minute rule is nice in theory but in practice can throw you off ever completing reviews, therefore chucking you off the gtd bandwagon. Staying on the bucking horse should be priority at all costs.
     
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  10. TesTeq

    TesTeq Registered

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    1. Look at the GTD workflow diagram.
    2. Find the "Do it if less than 2 minutes" action box.
    3. Find the "Review" step.
    There's no "Review" step in the older (black and white) version of the GTD workflow diagram. In the newest (colorful) version the "Review" step is in the lower right corner of the poster - far away from the "Do it if less than 2 minutes" action box.

    Why?

    Because 2-minute rule is not a part of the "Review" step. It is applied during Processing of the Collected Stuff. It is one of the answers to the "What is it? Is it actionable? What's the Next Action?" set of questions.

    And I think that being a diligent student is the FIRST step on the path to mastery.
     
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  11. bcmyers2112

    bcmyers2112 Registered

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    Like I said earlier, in practice it's done wonders for me. Learning how to estimate how long something will take and avoiding rabbit holes are both skills that can be learned, and are worth learning.

    The two-minute rule needn't be a stumbling block for weekly reviews. I remember a podcast where a GTD coach (whose name escapes me at the moment, I'm sorry to say) recommended that if your inboxes are overflowing when you approach your weekly review, you can limit your processing time to five or ten minutes and then add "finish processing inboxes" as a next action. Then you can proceed with the rest of the review.
     
  12. Gardener

    Gardener Registered

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    I think that the two-minute rule depends very heavily on things like (1) whether the person doing the review needs to enter a state of flow to stay on task, (2) how easily they're knocked off that state of flow, and probably others.

    I think that even more than many other parts of GTD, its potential for value or harm depends on the individual.
     
  13. bcmyers2112

    bcmyers2112 Registered

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    @Gardener: You could say that the value of any practice depends largely on the individual, and I wouldn't argue with that. I'm simply offering suggestions based on things that have worked for me.
     
  14. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

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    Mine is more like a 5 minute rule. The issue I have is that the very first step of processing "What is it? Is it actionable? can sometimes take a very long time to determine. I can have an inbox item that it may take me 15 minutes to decide what it is and more importantly whether I need to do anything about it. Once there often I can finish the next actoon within 3-5 minutes, so I often just do it.
     
  15. TesTeq

    TesTeq Registered

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    For me the 2-minute rule is a procrastination killer for small tasks like "put these socks in a drawer", "delete spam", "approve a new iPad purchase for my assistant" etc. Fast effortless wins that bring a lot of satisfaction.
     
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  16. drparker48

    drparker48 Registered

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    For me, it's always been simpler than that.

    If it would take you longer to capture, clarify, and organise it into your trusted system than it would take to "just do it now" then do it now.

    "Two minutes" is just a rule of thumb to make sure you don't treat lengthy actions this way because they may need clarification, organising and reviewing rather than just going straight from "capture" to "engage" (or it old GTD-speak "do").

    It's a lot easier to remember as the "2 minute rule" than the "do it now if it'll take longer to process it through your system".

    This post it a good example. I could have captured an action to respond to the thread, clarified what I wanted to say, put it on my "online" list to be done, reviewed it to see when I need to get it done, and then done it.

    Instead I just wrote the post. It'll never get into my GTD system. Unless it generates a lot of other things that I might need to capture . . . .
     
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  17. Gardener

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    Come to think of it, I could claim to be following the test in this rule by this definition. I know that "just do it" will throw me off the flow of the review and distract me--even if the task itself takes just ninety seconds, after that ninety seconds I will have to get the train started again, and that's likely to take me quite some time. (The research for interrupted tasks suggest twelve minutes or twenty minutes to resume after an interruption, and my mind would react to this as an interruption.)
     
  18. TesTeq

    TesTeq Registered

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    By "review" you mean browsing through one of your inboxes, don't you?
    I can hardly encounter any 2-minute action during my Weekly or Daily Review because I am reviewing my lists where THERE ARE NO 2-MINUTE ACTIONS by definition.
    And in my case browsing any inbox is "interrupted" by each item in this inbox so I don't see any extra interruptions in the Processing step of the GTD workflow.
     
  19. Gardener

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    I'm not following. I'll expand in case it clarifies anything.

    I don't really "browse" my inboxes. I empty them. My purpose in being in them for a review is to empty them. If, in the process of emptying my email inbox, I find an email that could be dealt with by sending a response that would take two minutes to write, I will nevertheless instead take ten or twenty seconds to create an action for that email. ("Propose meeting with Joe. See email 7/24.")

    Because for me, emptying my inbox is a task, and I choose not to interrupt that task with other tasks, however small. Checking my schedule, writing for someone else's eyes rather than my own, bringing up Outlook, are all distractions from the primary task of see the input, evaluate the input, herd the tasks spawned by the input into appropriate corrals.

    So for me, there absolutely are two minute tasks in the lists, because my definition isn't the same as yours.
     
  20. TesTeq

    TesTeq Registered

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    Thank you. I understand. By "browsing" I meant "looking at each item in sequence and asking the GTD processing questions". Sorry that I erroneously used this English word "browse".
     

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