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It’s the new year and a time for optimism! This year we will get into shape and lose a little weight. We will learn a new skill and finish that home improvement project that has been languishing for the past few years. We will make our life better and with less stress!

And boy, do we have the programs, plans, and technology to get us there. Weight Watchers, Noom, and Lifesum, are some of the programs, with apps, that can help us lose weight. We can go to the YMCA, Planet Fitness, or any number of Crossfit gyms in town. Don’t want to go to the gym? There is Peloton, Apple Fitness, classes on YouTube, and a hundred other options if you can’t find what you want.

We don’t want to just whip our bodies into shape, we want to make home and work more organized and simplified as well. There are many ways to do this, and we probably have tried them all. But let me share with you the one thing you should start doing today. The two-minute rule.

The two-minute rule is a simple yet powerful productivity hack that can help you stay on top of your tasks and avoid feeling overwhelmed. This rule, coined by productivity expert David Allen in his best-selling book Getting Things Done (GTD): The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, states, “If an action will take less than two minutes, it should be done at the moment it’s defined.” 

Why is this rule so effective? Because small tasks and distractions can quickly add up, and before you know it, you’ve spent hours on things that could have been done in just a few minutes. By tackling these tasks as soon as they come up, you can keep your focus on more important tasks and avoid the mental clutter that comes with having too many things on your to-do list.

Here’s how you can apply the two-minute rule in your daily life:

  • When you receive an email that can be responded to in two minutes or less, take care of it immediately. Don’t leave it for later or let it sit in your inbox for days.
  • Instead of putting a small task in your inbox or to-do list, like filing a piece of paper or returning what should be a phone call, do it immediately.
  • If you’re at home and you see something that needs to be done, like putting away dishes or taking out the trash, do it now.

The two-minute rule is just a guideline. These tasks may be 30 seconds or less. You may even find that you have more time to spare, and a five-minute or ten-minute may be the time you choose to immediately complete tasks. Whatever works best for you.

Overall, the two-minute rule is a great way to stay organized and on top of your tasks. It’s simple, easy to remember, and can significantly impact your productivity. So next time you’re faced with a small task, consider applying the two-minute rule and free up your inbox.

Bonus Life Hack

I wish I could remember where I heard this, but one blogger recommended a way to decrease clutter in your home that reminds me of the two-minute rule. They said, don’t leave a room without picking something up and moving it to the next room where it belongs. For example, at my home, I might take the empty laundry basket from upstairs back downstairs the next time I go. It may seem like a no-brainer, but I can’t tell you how many times we completely ignore that empty basket. Doing this simple task will decrease clutter in your home, so you are not facing a long Saturday cleaning the entire house.


A note about the artwork.

The artwork shown in this blog post was created with the Midjourney AI bot. I created the image using the prompt “person procrastinating while ignoring a huge inbox of papers.” I had two variations to create illustrated and more realistic versions. So far, I have used the AI bot to create fun pictures such as Krampus at the Beach and Aliens in Times Square in the style of Diane Arbus. The images produced have been hilarious. The more realistic the image, the weirder it gets. Usually, there are 7 or 8 fingers on a hand or maybe two rows of teeth. In any case, this technology will either affect my core business or enhance it, so I go into this with an open mind. Many ethical issues remain to be answered, but I can’t turn my back on what is coming. I still don’t know what happened to those graphic designers that turned their back on “desktop publishing.”

Shawn Wright
Shawn Wright is a graphic designer and podcaster living in Birmingham, Alabama. You can find his design work at shawnwright.net. You can find his podcasts, Alabama Short Stories at alabamashortstories.com and the Shades Cahaba Oral History Project podcast at shadescahabahistory.com. His designs are for sale at TeePublic.com, Redbubble.com and Society6.com.
Shawn Wright
Shawn Wright

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