Have you ever put off a little tiny task–and maybe even rewritten it 16 times before you actually got it done? Today we’re encouraging you to start a brand new habit. There’s a two-minute rule we follow, which says that if something can be done in two minutes or less, you don’t add it to a list or leave it for later (like we used to do!).
Instead, you simply do it.
To get you started with some quick productivity wins, we’ve identified 10 scenarios where you can apply this rule. Enjoy! (And watch how this jump starts your productivity in a fun, positive way.)
1 – Log a receipt
Keeping track of your spending is a smart thing to do, but who wants to sit
down with a pile of receipts at the end of the week? Using a simple app like
YNAB (You Need a Budget) and logging purchases the moment you make
them will keep you on budget with hardly any extra effort.
2 – Download Evernote to your phone
If you haven’t yet utilized the power of Evernote, now is a simple time to start. It’s a “notes” app that works on every phone or computer and enables you to capture text, photos, videos, screen shots, documents, voice memos, and more. It even performs search functions on handwritten notes.
Seriously amazing. Evernote is fairly intuitive, so it won’t take long to learn, but getting it on your phone now can be a quick first step!
3 – Find a product on Amazon
When a friend recommends a book, you think of a great gift idea, or you remember you were going to place an order for some new office supplies, there’s a good chance you could do a quick Amazon search and add the product to your cart in less time than it would take to write down the idea and follow up later. Then you could either check out right then or save it in your cart while you think about it a bit (but it will be ready when you are!).
4 – Send a payment
I once wrote “Send payment to Peggy” 16 times on 16 consecutive daily
task lists. When I finally got around to doing it, the whole task was totally
complete in about a minute and a half. (I spent much more time writing
and rewriting it!)
5 – Delegate a task to your children
It’s extremely common for our minds to feel weighed down with “stuff” that needs to be done, but we can often share those tasks with our children. We obviously need to look for age-appropriate tasks to delegate, but young children can fold towels, sort socks, collect trash bins, etc., and
older children can prepare meals, run errands, and organize cupboards.
(One thing that helps is getting an “I’d Love To” jar, where a pom-pom is
added each time a child responds to a request with “I’d Love To.” When
the jar is full, you celebrate with a treat or an activity. Our children LOVE this.)
6 – Extract a task from an email
Do you find yourself with dozens (or hundreds) of emails in your inbox
that are acting as a quasi-task list? If you can’t respond to or handle an
email within two minutes, simply identify the exact next step that needs
to happen—and add that task to a calendar or list to be reviewed in the
future. That simple practice will keep your inbox clean and your task list
complete, so you only have one place to look for the things that need to
7 – Start a brainstorm for a project
Ever felt paralyzed when something big was on your plate? We’ve all
been there, but even two minutes brainstorming next steps will relieve
your mind. For example, let’s say you’re moving in a few months. You
could use a mind map app or a sheet of paper and brainstorm the major categories you’ll need to consider–like decluttering the house, repairing the house, coordinating the packing, finding your new home, and
finalizing details like schools, utilities, doctors, and address changes.
Sure, there’s still a lot to do, but you can start to wrap your head around
the scope of the project, and that will help you to build momentum!
8 – Identify a Next Action to a problem
We’re hit with “problems” all day, but we can choose to look at them as
“projects” instead. For example, your puppy destroys the carpet in your
family room. What’s the next action? Research new flooring options next
month. (Just add it to your calendar as a reminder.) Or maybe your son’s
shoes are super worn out and need to be replaced. Add “new shoes” to
your errands list! Dishwasher isn’t draining properly, and it’s still under
warranty? Add “call repair service” to your phone call list. Instead of
thinking, “Why me?” we can simply ask, “Well, what’s next?”
9 – Renegotiate with yourself and cut your list in half
The way you know your task list is too long is if you get a sinking feeling in
your stomach when you look at it. Yes, we try to convince ourselves that
everything HAS to be done RIGHT NOW. But that’s not typically the case.
Set your timer for two minutes and identify at least half of the things on
your list that could be delegated, delayed, or deleted. You can do them
later that same day, if you finish the most important things, but chances
are that the world won’t come to an end if some of your tasks are moved
into the future. It’s our expectations that cause the stress.
10 – Post a question on social media that will help you move something forward
Sometimes we procrastinate because we really have no idea how to
proceed. Maybe it’s a challenge with a family member. Maybe we’re
trying something new in our business. Chances are, however, that there is
at least one person or group of people who could offer helpful advice on
your next steps. Taking two minutes to post a very specific question to
social media enables your friends to do some collective thinking for you,
and chances are the project will feel much easier once you get a fresh
There you go! Ten things you can do in two minutes or less. And we’re
guessing that a bunch of other great ideas came to your mind, as well! Time is valuable, and the more we can streamline the “stuff” of life, the
more energy we’ll have to invest in the people and the relationships that
- Printable 10 Things You Can Do in 2 Minutes or Less
- Episode 77 – Extracting Tasks from Emails (the Surprisingly Easy Way!)
- Our Amazon Bookstore*
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Jane Knox says
How do I access Episode 77 – Extracting Tasks from Emails (the Surprisingly Easy Way!)?
Taryn Wood says
Hi Jane! There is a link in the show notes above. I’ll include it here for you as well! https://learndobecome.com/episode77/
Laura Shepherd says
As I get older there are many chores I need help with or just don’t have time to do. When my adult children ask me what I want for gifts I tell them “help”. The gift of time is the best thing to ever give anyone!
Do your kids actually take you up on that request?
Do you have to be specific, like, I need someone to take the old lawn mower to the dump?
Or do they just designate time (say, availability next Friday afternoon) and then you tackle together what you can?
So intrigued. I am trying very hard to get my kids not to give me “token” gifts anymore, I could sure use the help.
Gaylene Opal says
I Have watched your intro vid, and have downloaded Evernote, but have no idea how to use it. I am quite overwhelmed and don’t even know where to begin. I have made a couple of “notes” lists, but have no idea how to use them. Please tell me the first two steps or so to make this effective for me. I watched the instruction portion, I have looked at the templates, and nothing seems to speak to me. I have no idea where to begin.
I have never learned to use a planner, or other organizing strategy, and it is just so overwhelming because my mind doesn’t work that way organically. AAAK!
Taryn Wood says
Gaylene, thanks for reaching out to us! We have some great resources for Evernote here on our website as well as inside of our Steps To Everyday Productivity (STEP) Program. (We’d love to support you there if it’s a good fit for you!) Type “Evernote” into the search box to see some of the other podcast episodes.
It can feel foreign at first to learn this new way of thinking. The key is to take one step at a time and get used to that one new thing before adding more.
Perhaps these podcasts will offer some additional help to you:
Calendars and Lists: https://learndobecome.com/episode95/
STEP Command Central: https://learndobecome.com/episode45/.
Feel free to reach out to our team with any additional questions, email(at)learndobecome(dot)com. We’re so glad you’re here!
Kathie J Backhaus says
I love the 2-minute rule! It applies in every aspect of my day. I find less clutter to clean at a the end of the day! My plants live longer! I get a LOT more done!
Love hearing your voice again and again. You have become a part of my true self persons! Thanks for caring!
Kim Rigby says
Thank you so much for your insights and Tools you share to help us find peace, order And meaning in our lives! I love to just hear your voice. It’s so full of happiness and hope. Thanks again!
Sabrina Marx says
I appreciate this reminder that are many things we can get done in a short amount of time. I am going to move those emails to where they belong.
Jovita Georgia says
🌸Okay, I will be giving Evernote a try. 💜 And I always look forward to seeing your emails to the podcasts. It’s kinda like going to church and thinking , wow I really needed to hear that!
Yolana Saulnier says
I look forward to your pod casts and listen while I do dishes or cook in the kitchen. Thanks for the happy company! One problem is knowing what’s really only going to take two minutes. It all seems so simple in my head. Here’s a for instance: dust the organ. But I find a Christmas card behind the music and now it’s either put the card down in another wrong place or move the stuff in front of the Christmas bins, open them one by one to figure out where this card (which doubles as a decoration) will fit without bending. And while I’m at it, do these things have to go back in front of the bins? And now I see a gazillion two minute tasks that have been neglected and I just shut down. It’s just my stuff. Nothing is a priority.
April Perry says
I am so glad you enjoy the podcasts, and I love your question! In the situation you described, you would go ahead and finish dusting the organ. That would take two minutes. When you find the card behind the music, you set it down where you can take it with you when you leave the room, and you would put it in a simple landing spot where you could take it with you towards the Christmas bins next time you walk that direction. Once you get to the bins, you just put the Christmas card on top, and you create a project to organize those bins. You may not get to the project until December, and so it could wait on your Someday list, with a calendar trigger to remind you about it in December. That way, you stay focused, but the job of organizing the bins doesn’t leave your mind. I think learning how to create tiered project lists will help you a lot! Are you in the STEP program yet, by chance? Lots of great resources in there to help!
Great, quick tips to keep momentum. Thank you!
Do you have set chores for your children too? I was wondering how that would fit in with the “I’d love to” jar.
Taryn Wood says
Great question, Carmen! You can learn more about how April and Eric handle chores and family responsibilities here, https://learndobecome.com/episode47/ and here https://learndobecome.com/run-solid-routines-on-autopilot/. Thanks for asking!