Are you a raving fan of David Allen, the time management consultant and author of Getting Things Done? Then don’t read any further. I’m about to say something that might sound like heresy.
His “two-minute rule”—if an action only takes two minutes to do it, do it—needs to be broken.
Not destroyed. Just broken.
Allen’s “do-it” example makes sense: an executive addressing a Kilimanjaro-sized mountain of emails. If it takes two minutes or less to respond, do it, delegate it, or dump it.
Here’s Where It Doesn’t Make Sense At All
The two-minute rule doesn’t make sense, however, when you are working on a strategic initiative and purposefully choosing the most important action to move that forward. Not just choosing any action that moves it forward. It needs to be the most important action and likely the one that has the greatest impact.
An Exorbitant Transaction Cost
If you are good at knocking out “two-minute rule” actions I’m about to take your cookies away. I’m sorry. But I’m doing this because I have a bigger wish for you: helping you bring your big goals to fruition.
Here’s the price you pay for engaging in “two-minute rule” actions—an exorbitant transaction cost.
Every time you switch gears mentally to take care of that “two-minute” item it’s like you are importing or exporting goods into another country. You pay the premium duties from your daily store of precious intellectual capacity.
Here’s why: the phone call that’s related but only takes two minutes to make, a fact you stopped to look up on the internet, getting coffee but running into someone who wants to discuss a topic with you, the CNN piece on your office T.V. that you’ll only give a few minutes to, essentially mean that you’re constantly switching languages, cultures, contexts, and re-orienting. Then you’re doing it again. And again.
Sadly, your intellectual capacity now looks like the detritus left over in a shipping container rather than the premium-value cargo with which you started the day.
Get Ferociously Purposeful
Get ferociously purposeful about eliminating distractions and focusing on the most important thing you can be doing to reach your big vision. Don’t engage in the “two-minute rule” except for contexts like moving through a mass of emails.
Here’s further reading on focus and purposefulness.
- For the “why” and the “how to”—Executive Toughness: The Mental-Training Program to Increase Your Leadership Performance by Jason Selk, sports performance coach.
- For encouraging big picture thinking and translating it into daily behaviors with a key question―The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan.
- For learning about the mindset (and mind!)―Zero Regrets: Be Greater Than Yesterday by Apolo Anton Ohno, the Olympian short-track skater who won eight medals, and Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck.
The world needs and wants you and your vision turned into reality. Get clear about what’s most important and purpose-focused. I don’t mean just in how much you are getting done but the quality of your doing—your thinking, your innovating, your impact.
To those of you with big visions: What are you doing to maximize your productivity in bringing that vision to life?
U.S. Library of Congress ISSN 2164-7240
©2014 Leadership Hand LLC and Beth Hand | (+1) 703.820.8018 Eastern Time USA | www.leadershiphand.com
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