2 minute rule and self-care

chinarut

Registered
Hi! it’s good to be back in these forums - I think it’s been at least 12 years since getting back from 5 years in Asia which is why I took on GTD (to turn my life around) - whew - what a journey! :)

I love the 2 min rule, the rule where if it takes less than 2 minutes, just do it, it would take longer to put it in your GTD system and track of it. It’s come in so useful over the years - you often hear the “just do it!” voice in your head sometimes.

So over the past 5 years, I’ve been focused on slowing down my life. I’m learning to throttle some of my impulsive thinking/behavior.

I noticed just this morning, I wake up and lots of 2 min tasks are on my mind when my own self-care is at stake.

So what do others do in these instances? politely say no to these tasks, let them go and move on with your morning routine?

I often can‘t bear to let them go so next thing I know I’m still in my morning routine and it’s afternoon. Has anyone else been on the 2 min gravy train? The experience where completing a 2 min task starts a daisy chain of tasks one after the other (not necessarily all 2 min tasks, and perhaps driven more by flow and being in the zone). Sometimes the experience even gets numbing because you take tangents and if you trust the process, you bubble back up and feel complete. For me, it happens every so often and know it is an artifact of my tangential/lateral thinking. Sometimes I just call it mad scientist mode :)

In the instance of this morning, I decided rather than act on the first 2 min task that was in my mind, I’d take 2 minutes to park what became 7 tasks (not all are 2 min tasks in themselves) in my daily note and move on to my morning routine. It technically took 4-5 min but this is okay.

I’d love to hear what your experience with the 2 minute rule has been esp in the context of choosing self-care when your mind seemingly wants to run the show :)
 

ckennedy

Registered
Not sure if this is helpful, but when a 2-minute task (or any task) is on my mind, I capture it somewhere-on paper, in my task manager inbox etc. I only invoke the 2-minute rule when I go to process and organize the things I previously captured. If I acted on everything that popped into my head and which I convinced myself would only take 2 minutes, I'd probably never get anything I value done.
 

chinarut

Registered
when a 2-minute task (or any task) is on my mind, I capture it somewhere-on paper, in my task manager inbox etc. I only invoke the 2-minute rule when I go to process and organize the things I previously captured. If I acted on everything that popped into my head and which I convinced myself would only take 2 minutes, I'd probably never get anything I value done.
hmm - I remember David Allen, in his workshop, pretty adamant about acting on anything that takes 2 minutes or less and not stopping to capture.

I do think you make a good point in regards to following through on tasks you “value.” Perhaps following our gut and instinct (ie. not getting into paralysis analysis) and making a “value judgment,” in the moment, as to whether the 2 min task that popped up in our head is worth executing sounds like an option - we are not obligated to do everything our minds tells us to do :)

Thanks for sharing your own experience. it’s good to hear what others do.
 

PeterByrom

Registered
If I’m facing a chain of 2 minute actions, I ask “is there anything I know is more important that I ought to be doing now?”

if not then why not fill that time with less than 2 min actions?

if yes, do that instead, and capture them.

also, what’s the worst that could happen if I’m not following GTD perfectly?:)
 

Gardener

Registered
hmm - I remember David Allen, in his workshop, pretty adamant about acting on anything that takes 2 minutes or less and not stopping to capture.
It's always possible that that's his current position, but grabbing the 2015 edition of the book, it looks like it wasn't his position then:

"That said, you shouldn’t become a slave to spending your day doing two-minute actions. This rule should be applied primarily when you are engaging with new input..."

Allen, David. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity (pp. 136-137). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
 

TesTeq

Registered
It's always possible that that's his current position, but grabbing the 2015 edition of the book, it looks like it wasn't his position then:
"That said, you shouldn’t become a slave to spending your day doing two-minute actions. This rule should be applied primarily when you are engaging with new input..."
Allen, David. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity (pp. 136-137). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
I see no contradiction here. The whole life spent on new inputs is rather unusual and strange. So for us - ordinary people - @DavidAllen's advice is: don't capture, just do it if it will take 2 minutes or less.
 

Gardener

Registered
Hmm. I read it as meaning that the two minute rule is applied primarily when engaging with new input. It goes on to give examples, such as processing your inbox.

I rarely use the two minute rule, myself--the distraction involved in switching tasks, as opposed to writing down an idea, costs me a lot more than two minutes. (I think that studies suggest that it's a minimum of twelve minutes?) I only use it when I'm essentially already distracted--when, for example, I'm processing my email inbox.

But if I'm, say, writing documentation, and something makes me think, "Ack! I have to order that book!" I spend ten seconds adding "Order Blah de Blah 101" to a list instead of ninety seconds going on Amazon and actually ordering it. There's a good chance that the ten seconds won't disrupt my train of thought and therefore affect me as a task switch, while the ninety seconds--plus the mental disruption of opening a new window, interacting with a new interface, etc, in that ninety seconds--will.
 

TesTeq

Registered
I rarely use the two minute rule, myself--the distraction involved in switching tasks, as opposed to writing down an idea, costs me a lot more than two minutes. (I think that studies suggest that it's a minimum of twelve minutes?) I only use it when I'm essentially already distracted--when, for example, I'm processing my email inbox.
So... during deep work we should take it into account and ban the two minute rule since it becomes the twelve minute rule! @Longstreet
 

PeterByrom

Registered
Remember the conditions for the 2 minute rule:

1. does it take less than 2 minutes?
2. Can you do it right now?

So, if you are faced with the choice of:

A) doing a big batch of 2 minute actions - such that you could end up spending 20 or 30 minutes (or more!) on that batch

B) doing something else that’s better (Eg more important / urgent) that takes more than 2 minutes

make the choice, and if it’s “B”, then the answer to “2” is “no”!
 

Longstreet

Professor of microbiology and infectious diseases
Remember the conditions for the 2 minute rule:

1. does it take less than 2 minutes?
2. Can you do it right now?

So, if you are faced with the choice of:

A) doing a big batch of 2 minute actions - such that you could end up spending 20 or 30 minutes (or more!) on that batch

B) doing something else that’s better (Eg more important / urgent) that takes more than 2 minutes

make the choice, and if it’s “B”, then the answer to “2” is “no”!
If you have a time block on your calendar for doing deep work, then that is what you should do unless there is an emergency input. Don't even consider embracing the 2-minute rule. That is an internal distraction and will take away your focus. If something pops up in your mind, quickly write it down and then continue with your focused work.
 
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