Do you have a bunch of little tasks nagging at you? Do you tend to procrastinate on bigger projects because you have trouble finding large blocks of time? Do you have tiny areas of clutter that don’t seem too bad individually but collectively make your home look messy? I have the solution – create a “two minute list”.
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If you are familiar with David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD) method, you have likely heard of the “two minute rule” – If something will take you two minutes or less, do it now. That’s all well and good for some things:
- dealing with the daily mail
- responding to an email that only needs a short answer
- putting your plate and fork in the dishwasher after lunch
- rinsing the toothpaste out of the sink after brushing your teeth
- folding the blanket you were using after your television show is over
But the truth is that, for many of us, we could spend our entire day moving from one two-minute task to another and never get to any of our larger, and perhaps more important, projects.
That’s why I like to create a “Two Minute List”.
What is a two minute list?
A “Two Minute List” is simply a list of tasks that you estimate will take two minutes or less to complete. These might be little tasks you keep putting off for one reason or another. Or they could be the very first tiny step of a much larger project. Or maybe there’s a new habit you want to create, such as making your bed every morning. Anything is fair game for the “Two Minute List” as long as it doesn’t take much more than a couple of minutes.
- respond to an email
- put away the shoes that have collected by the front door
- empty all the wastebaskets
- wipe off the kitchen windowsill
- put the reusable grocery bags back in the car
- tidy your underwear drawer
- pay a bill
- remove a few dead leaves from a houseplant – and water it if that’s why there are dead leaves!
- replace a burned out light bulb
- neatly stack the magazines on the coffee table and put a few in the recycling bin if they are out of date or you’ve already read them
- check the main bathroom to make sure there is toilet paper on the roll and put out fresh towels if needed
- write a quick thank you note
- set a timer for 2 minutes and delete junk email as fast as you can
- clean out your purse
- start a load of laundry
- delete a couple of apps you never use from your phone
- shred a stack of papers
You get the idea.
There are several ways you can use a Two Minute List:
- Make a new list each day with 3-10 items and then use those tiny pockets of time throughout the day to check off each item.
- If you have older children or a willing spouse, create a list of 2-5 items for them to complete.
- Take time to walk through your entire home and consider anything you’ve been putting off. Make a master list of two minute tasks.
- Consider breaking larger projects into tiny parts. For instance, if your closet is a disaster you could tackle it in two minute chunks here and there. Put “remove five clothing items I no longer wear” on your list. Repeat as needed.
- When you find yourself waiting for something, such as the tea kettle coming to a boil, try to knock out something from your list.
- If you’re having one of “those days” where nothing seems to be getting done, take 10 minutes to complete 5 tasks. Then, if you didn’t have a to do list for the day, write down these 5 tasks, cross them off and leave the list in some prominent place in the hopes someone in your household sees it and thinks you’ve actually completed your day’s list.
- If you find yourself on a lengthy phone call with a chatty friend or relative, see if you can complete a few two minute tasks. Make sure to choose something quiet, though. And of course, if the topic is serious devote your complete attention to your caller.
- Make a list of things you can do on your phone when waiting away from home. Answer an email, update your apps, delete duplicate photos, place an order, start a packing list for an upcoming trip, etc.
Where to keep your Two Minute list:
- Add them to your daily to-do list, whether you use a paper or digital list.
- Write them on a sticky note and put them on the refrigerator. This is good if the Two Minute List is for the whole family.
- Keep them on your phone. This can be really helpful if your list includes things that can be done away from home.
- Write them in your regular planner. I currently have mine in my bullet journal.
- Start a small notebook or journal just for Two Minute tasks. Cross items off as you do them and add more. It can be deeply satisfying to look back at a list of completed tasks.
Consider Creating a Two Minute List for Self Care
- Drink a glass of water.
- Do several jumping jacks or jog in place for two minutes.
- Take your vitamins.
- Do a short meditation or simply close your eyes and breathe deeply.
- Write in a gratitude journal.
- Listen to your favorite song.
- Light a candle.
- Rub your favorite scented lotion on your hands, massaging gently for a couple of minutes.
- Read a favorite poem.
- Put on some lipstick and your favorite perfume. Yes, even in the middle of the day at home when no one will see (or smell) you.
Why a Two Minute List Works
- It utilizes little pockets of time we might otherwise waste scrolling Facebook.
- It can help stave off procrastination.
- When faced with a big project that seems overwhelming, seeing it as a series of tiny steps can help you get started.
- It’s easier to get family members to help when the task only takes two minutes.
- Completing a task, even a teeny tiny one, often builds momentum.
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