2 Minute Rule

Today’s LIFEies is a simple one. I’ll start with the 2 minute rule from David Allen: If it takes two minutes to start a habit, then do it now.

The author of the short article below, Muhammad Usama Ashraf takes that saying one step further:  It should take less than 2 minutes to start a habit.

We can change our life in 2 minutes.  Here are some ways I am doing it with mine (AND I would love to hear from you about ways you are, or will do it with yours—please email me some hacks).

–I am reading dense, intense books by committing to 2 pages a day. I know this is technically more than 2 minutes but it’s the same concept.

–I started with 2 pushups a day for months.  Now, I have increased it over the course of a couple years to 100/day.

–I am trying to connect and be totally present for the first two minutes of any meeting/call.  It works great.

Some key points to incorporate:

1. Breaking down big habits into small habits. SUPER small. Whether it’s 2 pushups or something that takes 2 minutes or less, incorporate it now and then keep doing it for a long time.

2. Veer away from thinking of all the steps at once. Focus on step one only. Running is putting on your shoes.  Writing is opening a notebook. Getting up is putting your feet on the floor and standing up.

Thinking this way has been amazing for me.  Hope it does for you as well.

I have to admit that I myself am guilty of procrastination. I have days where I can stick to my plan yet there are also days where I rush things through. I have always heard that “it takes 21 days to build a habit” which is why my curiosity sparked when I read about the 2-minute rule in building a habit.

We all struggle in building new habits as they disrupt the habits and routines that we are already used to. We think of ALL the steps that we need to take in order to acquire a habit. While it is good to look ahead, sometimes it also hinders us. For example, when I first tried writing my own book, I thought of all the steps that were involved. Finding references, looking for resources, numerous revisions, and everything else just seemed too many steps. The 2-minute rule helped me to break free from thinking about how long the process is.

What habits are you trying to change or acquire? What steps are you taking in doing this?

Rule # 5   from my book The Fantastic Life: Make Sacrifices
We all know that the life we want requires sacrifices. But what if your sacrifice was just 2 minutes out of your day? You can give up 2 minutes easily to establish a habit that could change your whole life.


2 Minute Rule


By: Muhammad Usama Ashraf | Published on November 4, 2021

Do you suffer from procrastination? You are not able to keep up on a habit? Well, then the 2-minute rule is the ultimate key to success for you.

David Allen, an American consultant, describes the unravalled idea to kick on a habit using the 2-minute rule which states:

If it takes 2-minutes to start a habit, then do it now.

OR conversely

It should take less than 2-minutes to start a habit.

Photo by Sonja Langford on Unsplash

On its own, it seems very lucrative and easy to pursue. But let’s analyse it in depth.

If you take a bird’s eye view (think impulsively), you will realise that any habit can be fallen into the 2-minutes rule.

Writing your diary becomes Write one paragraph a day

Reading a book becomes Read one page a day

Start running becomes put on your shoes

AND SO ON…

So to develop any habit, you can apply the 2-minutes rule. EASY, right??

BUT rationally speaking, it is not what it seems like…

LET’S Analyse

Say you wish to start running someday and you have always been thinking about it since forever but never managed to do it.

WHY is that? BECAUSE…

YOU THINK that to go running, you have to:

  1. Leave your comfy bed
  2. Change clothes
  3. Go out
  4. Eventually, RUN
  5. Come back home
  6. Take shower
  7. Go back to bed

So now it is not only running, it is a 7-step process which makes you worry when you think all 7-steps in less than a second processed by your SYSTEM 1 of BRAIN (lazy YOU).

Instead, what DAVID ALLEN recommends is that:

You need to “TRAIN YOUR SYSTEM 1” to not think of these 7 steps at once.

Think of only one key step and there you have your new habit developed.

Instead of thinking that,

IN ORDER TO START WRITING

I have to grab a pen, grab a notebook, think of my day, sit down on a study table (which some, like me, might say they don’t even have), and start writing (which we think of like a supernatural power)

ONLY tell yourself, “YOU’VE TO OPEN A NOTEBOOK.

AND BOOM. You won’t even realise and you will be attracted towards the idea of writing or reading or running or whatever you wish to develop as a habit.

So, at the end of the day, it is not 2-minutes or half a minute rule that would make you adopt a habit. It is YOU training your lazy system 1 of the brain that it is as easy as opening a notebook to start writing or tying up your shoelace to start running.