I read David Allen’s book Getting Things Done probably ten years ago. One of the things he talks about in the book is doing a two-minute task immediately. Creating this habit makes sense for a couple of reasons:
- It takes longer to put off a two-minute task and then do it later than it does to just knock it out now.
- Most of the time two-minute tasks come into our world intermittently, so we can knock them out quickly and move onto the next thing without having to clutter up or day or minds.
Think about this scenario. A co-worker asks you, “Hey, what were the projections for last quarter?” You know that looking those up will take about 60 seconds. Is it better to take 45 seconds to write it down on a post-it or in some program, and then take the 60 seconds to find the number later? No, it’s better to just get it off your plate and move on.
However, there is one major caveat to this strategy. You cannot for any reason let your desire to knock out quick two minute tasks derail you from focussing on primary tasks. When working on major things, like writing, coding, brainstorming, etc. you should not be available for any two minutes tasks to even come into your line of thinking. During those times, email, slack, phone, everything should be silenced for the sake or intense focus leading to increased productivity.
This two-minute rule applies during the times you are knocking out quick tasks, like when checking email or banging out some quick work before or after a meeting.
With that said, if it takes less than two minutes, do it now. You’ll be glad you did.