The 2-Minute Rule

systems and processes time management Mar 18, 2024

In his book Getting Things Done, David Allen talks about the 2-minute rule as a way of managing tasks and to-dos.

It's particularly useful when we're talking about your inbox but as a side note, it's also useful as a general life rule. 

The rule states that if a task or next action will take less than 2 minutes, do it straight away.

One thing I like about this rule is that it forces us to be mindful in the moment and to make a decision. 

Combined with the 4Ds - Do, Defer, Delete, Delegate - it's a very effective way of managing your emails.

To start with, block out time to process emails. You need enough time to do the 2-minute tasks if there are any.

For each email, consider:

  • Does this email contain something that needs to be done? 
    • No - will you need to refer back to this email again?
      • Yes, send it to Archive
      • No, hit the Delete button 
    • Yes - is doing this the best use of my time or can I delegate it to someone else? Delegate if you can.
    • If you need to do it will it take 2 minutes or less?
      • Yes - do it straight away
      • No - estimate how much time you'll need to do it and block out time in your calendar.
        • In Classic Outlook you can drag this email onto the calendar icon and it will create a calendar event
        • In New Outlook and Outlook on the web, you can drag the email onto the To Do button - New Task and you can choose to create a Task or an Event  
        • In Gmail, you can click on the 3 dots at the top of the email and Create Event  

I think it's worth mentioning here that I mostly gave up filing emails into a multitude of Inbox Folders a few years ago. If I need to find it again, the Search feature is good enough, and faster usually, to find what I'm looking for. 

Archive and Delete are your friends! The buttons are clearly placed at the top of the email screen and I find this to be a lot more efficient than dragging and dropping into folders.

For the couple of folders that I do still keep, I use Quick Steps to file in 1 or 2 clicks. 

You don't want to be in a situation with emails where you are looking at them and reading them more than once, or twice max. Using the 2-minute rule, along with the 4Ds, is an effective and efficient way to manage your inbox.

Continuous improvement when it comes to productivity is one of those things that has the power to make such a huge difference in your bookkeeping business, and it's one of the things that I cover a lot in my coaching programmes and courses. 

If you're interested to know if coaching with me is right for you, book a call with me here.   

Here's to a productive week.


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