Use The 2-Minute Rule To Banish Burnout And Get Stuff Done

Burnout doesn't discriminate. Defined by WebMD as "a form of exhaustion caused by constantly feeling swamped," burnout can strike anyone, anywhere, anytime. Experts agree that burnout is often caused by long-term stress, whether that's physical or emotional.


More specifically, burnout can be related to a particular sector of your life; if you've been on dating apps for months with no results, for example, you may experience dating burnout. Or prolonged stress at work can lead you to feeling professionally burned out.

No matter what kind of burnout you're experiencing, this state of being can significantly hinder your productivity. If you are going through job-related burnout, in particular, you won't be able to perform at your best and your career may be put in jeopardy. 

It's important to be able to deal with burnout and recover from it as soon as possible so you can get your life back on track again, which always begins with recognizing that you're struggling. You may notice that you constantly feel exhausted and you can't seem to muster up any energy. Or perhaps you keep making mistakes that you know don't reflect your capabilities.


Once you've identified that you're burned out, there are a few things you can do to recharge your energy and get yourself feeling better.

What is the two-minute rule?

According to the bestselling author of the book "Atomic Habits" James Clear, practicing the "Two-Minute Rule" is a powerful way to banish symptoms of burnout. The rule itself is simple: scale down your habits into smaller pockets of time. Rather than responding to emails for half an hour, for example, plan to do it for two minutes.


This is a variation of author David Allen's original version of the rule, which advises, "If it takes less than two minutes, then do it now," per Getting Things Done. But with Clear's version, rather than prioritizing the smaller tasks to achieve first in your day, you are creating smaller tasks from bigger tasks by re-sizing them into easily digestible time frames.

Clear explains that following this rule allows you to form "gateway habits" that give you practice "showing up." No, you may not be able to respond to all of your emails in two minutes. But by getting into the habit of doing it for two minutes only, the task itself becomes less daunting, and it will slowly become easier to stretch that out into a more realistic time frame. This process of thinking can help you to beat burnout because it makes responsibilities that seem overwhelming much more manageable.


The basic idea that makes the rule so effective is that starting anything is the hard part, especially when you're burned out. Once you've begun, most people will find it easy (and much less stressful) to continue. 

Other ways to prevent burnout

When you're dealing with extreme burnout, even committing to two minutes of something may be too overwhelming. Often, the only way to heal from this level of burnout is to take a break from what has burned you out. To avoid the disruption to your life, it's better to take active steps to prevent burnout before it occurs.


No matter how busy you are, always incorporate a little time every day for self-care. Make sure your life still includes positive and enriching things besides that one area you're super focused on. Eastern Washington University stresses the importance of regularly checking in with yourself and then making adjustments based on your feelings. For example, if you're feeling particularly stressed and overworked one week, schedule plenty of time to rest that weekend. Or if you can, lessen your workload the following week. If you don't check in with yourself, you'll allow that stress to build up until the exhaustion hits you like a ton of bricks.

Burnout can be mental or physical, but either way, it's vital to look after your health. Don't neglect your sleep, nutrition, or exercise requirements, as doing this can also contribute to long-term stress.


Finally, if you do notice that you're feeling more stressed than usual, reach out to someone for help (via Healthline). Sometimes, just talking about those feelings can make you feel better. Other times, you may need to consult a professional to equip yourself with some coping techniques.