Warning : You’re Doing The Two Minute Rule All Wrong!

If you are addicted to task lists you must institute this rule immediately.

You are wasting valuable time each day and may even fuel your procrastination habit if you are making lists without this rule.

The Two Minute Rule

If Task < Effort to Remember + Record + Categorize  + Prioritize +Time to Complete = Then Do It Now.

It is an absolute waste of time to write down, categorize and come back to an even longer list of activities you need to complete when it is something you could have knocked out in two minutes or less.


There are also important rules for this rule.

Often, the two minute rule is misapplied to mean that this is effective at all times. Not at all. Only apply this rule when you are not in working or project mode. Otherwise, you are hijacking your productivity and attention.

The two minute rule is most effective when you are doing processing work, anything that is sifting and sorting. Or in those in-between moments in your schedule or between tasks.

We must reduce distractions and anything that can take us off task when we have scheduled something or working on something  that is a critical and important use of our time.

If you have devoted a specific time to a task – and think of something that needs to get done that is less than two minutes, then by all means write it down – and then if possible get to when you complete your scheduled work.

It’s about balancing the need for getting those tasks out of your brain and onto your list, prioritizing those items, and then placing them in your schedule based on their importance and the time you have.

This has to be done without creating longer and longer lists that grow faster than your ability to get to them, or as a mechanism for keeping that procrastination habit fed.

A Word (or 190) of warning about The Two Minute Rule.

This is also only useful in the standard and basic task based, list based, time management method and if you are not using a workflow management system.

 In our modern and sophisticated world, a lot skill and near mastery has been placed into nearly aspect of our lives with the intention to grab our attention. This attention grab is distracting us in novel and unprecedented ways.

For many of us, our brains are already wired for distraction and then you add in these designed to distract additions to our lives that we invite in through our computers, tablets, smart phones, televisions, voice enabled devices and speakers, and even refrigerators.

Each application and online service is screaming for attention brutally, incessantly, and subversively.

Everything is about attention.

Everyone is vying for your attention. And every bit of attention where you are not giving it as a conscious choice of your own, is a distraction.

This is where we must do more than only apply The Two Minute Rule. We must become more sophisticated in the use of our workflow systems and our own personal methods for being intentional with our time.

What methods are you using to not only be more productive but to take back control of your day and attention? Love to hear from others what they are doing. Share and learn from each other, every day.

  • For more on time management and productivity here is an in-depth dive into how to be productive and never busy.

Above all keep it simple. Say no to anything that doesn’t fit your priorities and values. And keep hacking away. Time is relentless and so you must be with your management of your time.


Get more focused, think on your feet.

I’m really interested in the tension between overscheduled and unscheduled. As a creative person I need my time to do nothing and allow my nothing to produce. Yet, I’m also one that fills up my calendar. This is an interesting talk around leveling up our creativity through boredom.

Kyle T. Webster: Make Time for Boredom

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