Getting Productive in 2008, Starting with GTD
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Getting Productive in 2008: The Two Minute Rule

Two_minute_timer All this week I'm sharing some of the time management tips and tools I've been trying out, many of which are based on David Allen's Getting Things Done system. Today I'm going to talk about one of the parts of GTD to implement, The Two Minute Rule.

Allen's premise is that part of what gets in the way of our productivity are all the little items that pile up in our heads and on our desks, making us crazy. With the Two Minute Rule, we can clear many of them up immediately.

Here is the rule in a nutshell:

When something comes up that will take you two minutes or less to act on, do it now.

This seems pretty simple, but it's actually an incredibly powerful way to handle things, especially for procrastinators. who often think about some "to do" item and then another and another and another and pretty soon we're overwhelmed. We may write all of these things on our "to do" list, but then we'll just feel overwhelmed by the list. By implementing the Two Minute Rule, we can start to clear up many items immediately, creating both the psychic space and the time for the bigger items on our list.

I have to say that this rule has been working pretty well for me. I've installed the GTD Inbox extension in Firefox, which helps me use my Gmail account to help manage my activities. One of its cool features is that when I start to reply to an email, a 2-minute timer automatically pops up so I can get the email response done in two minutes or less. (Note that right now, you have to go back to the older version of Gmail to use this, as it's not yet compatible with the new one). You can also download this free Two Minute Timer, which will  help you keep track of other tasks, too, like phone calls, filling out paperwork or forms online, etc.

An added benefit of the Two Minute Rule for me has been that I don't get bogged down in doing things that will take me longer than two minutes until I really have the time to do them. I've been notorious for flitting task to task in some very disconnected ways. Many a day has ended with me wondering what exactly I managed to accomplish. By asking myself if it's something I could accomplish in two minutes, I've been able to be a little more deliberate in planning my time, so I stay more focused on the work that needs to get done.  This is one time management tip I highly recommend.


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I didn't take a ton of useful stuff away from GTD, but the two-minute rule is very handy.

Yeah--I'm finding that it was one of the better rules for me to follow, particularly as a procrastinator. :-)


That's Allen's rule that has stuck with me the most. If it's small and relatively simple, get it out of the way. Just do it.

Did you change you profile photo, by the way? It looks especially nice.


I've never been that organized and ALL other time management systems NEVER got down to the practical level. They would say, "Start a filing system"...and that's it. I love how GTD nails the tactical side of everything down to the smallest detail. I find the system VERY useful, but I'm also a procrastinator and so sticking with it is tough.
I've tried out many of the custom Mac apps, and the Gmail plugin, in an attempt to "live the GTD life". But they never stuck.
However, now I'm testing out Bento, a new Mac database app from the Filemaker team. I've got to say, Bento is the PERFECT gtd tool because you can define the GTD elements yourself. You aren't stuck with following some other programers interpretation of a GTD system. After all Mr. Allen will be the first to say that its different for everyone.
Good stuff, Michelle! Happy New Year to you and your family.

Hi Michele,
I just haven't been able to make the blogsphere a priority for me lately, but I always try in the very least to lurk around yours.

This is such a handy tool. I can DEFINITELY procrastinate - to the point where I get totally non-functional about a task. It doesn't happen that often with the big stuff but daily with the little stuff. I LOVE making lists. I make long lists of tiny, tiny to do items. Not only am I procrastinating, but I feel like it's the only way I get "credit" for getting them done. This tool is perfect for addressing this. I have it up on my desktop and have become very competitive with it. I click start and then race through my email, call, edit, entry. I mean, I'm not rude to anyone or anything. Just faster. I think my emails are even better because they are shorter. I can tend to go on and on. (Big surprise, huh?)

Anyway, thanks! Your blog often adds the little inspiration I need to get me through my workday.

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