Brandon's Notepad

September 28, 2011

Getting Things Done: The Two-Minute Rule

Filed under: GTD — Brandon @ 3:53 pm
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Home > My Research > Improvement > Getting Things Done > The Two-Minute Rule


I noted previously that Allen’s two-minute processing heuristic isn’t realistic, at least not in my implementation experience at work. One day, I found a few undedicated minutes remaining before a meeting and decided to process whatever I could in my inbox. As I picked up the stack, I reminded myself of the two-minute rule and thought, “Gee, I don’t have all that much time – I wonder what would happen if I limited myself to a thirty-second rule.” As I processed, immediately doing anything that would take thirty seconds or less, my mind travelled back to what I had written about needing, not a two-, but a ten-minute rule, and I started to wonder if this shift was due to a change in my work, my work habits, or maybe something else. What factors were at play here? Was it the context? In any case, the main take-away for me was that the two-minute heuristic is just that, a rule-of-thumb that can vary as necessary. Sometimes I’m in ten-minute mode and sometimes I’m in thirty-second mode. If I had an entire day with nothing to do – absolutely no commitments – but to process “in”, I wonder if I would allow myself a thirty-minute rule? On second thought, maybe that’s pushing it just a bit.


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