Tweaking the 2-Minute Rule

“It takes him 1 1/2 hours to watch 60 minutes.”
Quote taken from an actual work performance evaluation

The most important rule in dealing with daily tasks I have ever heard is one from David Allen’s “Getting Things Done”:

If you can finish a new task in less than two minutes, then do it immediately.

2 minutesAnd I think that this rule can be tweaked to become even more powerfulif you change your organizational infrastructure to make more possible within those two minutes.

The kind of tasks you can do within two minutes do not depend on the task itself, but on your infrastructure. With a good infrastructure you can do almost any small task within two minutes, but if you are badly organized, an hour would not be enough.

So, I think the crucial aspect you have to change to improve your organization is the infrastructure. If you need 5 minutes to find a document, you cannot send it to someone who asks for it within those 2 minutes. But if you keep a well-organized file system or a well-structured wiki, which stores all important documents, it becomes possible to do this in less than two minutes.

Consequently, I spend serious amounts of time on organizing my files, on creating a wiki structure that allows me to find important information quickly, on sorting my literature so that I can answer requests for documents within those two minutes. As a consequence I gain more time because many requests can be handled within these 2 minutes, and instead of shoving them in front of me throughout the day or the week, I do them, within 2 minutes.

So, think about the tasks you have to do often — not only those you do every day, but which come frequently enough but which usually take more than two minutes to finish. Can you adapt your infrastructure to these demands to do them within two minutes? Can you make more possible within two minutes?

Try to do so, it leaves you more time and concentration for the important stuff. 🙂

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