The 2-Minute To-Do List Rule That Helps You Resist Procrastinating

Take a moment to think about how many simple tasks you could have gotten to but haven't since this morning. We are willing to bet it's quite a high number. Most of us are serial procrastinators when it comes to completing small, routine tasks simply because they are boring and cumbersome.


Fortunately, the 2-minute to-do list rule is here to help with your procrastination woes, and it doesn't require you going into "monk mode" either. First proposed by productivity coach and bestselling author David Allen in his book "Getting Things Done," this rule is simple to follow and easy to implement.

All one has to do is assess which tasks require more work and which can be performed in 2 minutes or less. For the latter, tackle them now as opposed to later, so your to-do list of tasks doesn't keep growing as the day progresses. Allen asserts that this rule can be a foolproof way to build a new habit if done correctly, as it only takes 2 minutes of your time to accomplish.

How does the 2-minute to-do list rule work?

The basic premise of the 2-minute to-do list rule is that it only works for those chores which can be completed in a short amount of time. This could mean washing your dishes right after eating your meal so you don't have a mountain of dirty dishes at the end of the day or watering your plants so they aren't dry and starving at the end of the week. Other simple tasks that fall under its purview include loading your laundry, picking your clothes off the floor of your bedroom, and responding to a work email. The idea behind the rule is to get people to deal with tasks quickly so they don't build up into intimidating chores. By being conscious of your time and your choices, you empower yourself to stop procrastinating.


Interestingly, apart from Allen's version of the 2-minute rule is another popular 2-minute trick that helps in fueling productivity. Proposed by James Clear in his book "Atomic Habits: Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results," this rule advocates starting small to build any habit. So, instead of setting lofty goals such as reading 20 pages of a book a day or practicing yoga for an hour every day, you should instead read one page a day and practice micro-meditations for 2 minutes. By starting small, you will be able to overcome the initial hesitation of taking on any new task.

The pros and cons of the 2-minute to-do list

Though the methodology of the 2-minute to-do list sounds remarkably easy, you should be aware of its potential pros and cons for it to work well for you.

The method's biggest benefit is that it allows you to develop a focused and motivated mindset to follow through and complete your tasks, no matter how big or small. You will also begin to feel productive, which in itself is a mini reward that gives you a mental boost. Further, by getting the little tasks out of the way, you have more time to accomplish greater, more demanding tasks you may have put off.


However, in some cases, this rule may backfire, as by prioritizing the small tasks, you may not have the time or energy left to face the bigger, more pressing ones. You may end up utilizing more of your energy and resources in finishing unimportant things, leaving you with little to tackle the more important ones. If the rule isn't followed properly, you may end up becoming even less productive than when you started out.

Having identified the potential pitfalls of this method, the easiest way to make it work for you is to identify the tasks that require your time and attention in a more detailed manner. Then factor in the completion of these bigger tasks around the 2-minute rule.