How To Beat Procrastination: Magic Numbers, The 2-Minute Rule That Will Change Your Life

“Procrastination is like a credit card: It’s a lot of fun until you get the bill.”

– Christopher Parker

Did you know that the Dalai Lama was known as one of the world’s greatest procrastinators? As a student, he was used to delaying everything until the last minute. Should that make us feel better about procrastinating? No. If you think about it, he was doing anything but wasting time.

If you look at the other people on the list of famous procrastinators, you’ll notice other big names, including Leonardo da Vinci and Victor Hugo. From this point in time, it doesn’t seem like they were lazy. We should never justify our laziness with the fact that some successful people have been procrastinating, too.

The logic is pretty simple: You achieve more when you stop procrastinating. You do better at work and you have more time for yourself. The only problem is, it’s not that easy to resist the temptation of procrastination. But there is a way. Have you heard of the 2-minute rule that helps you get more productive?

The 2-Minute Rule That Will Change Your Life

Every single guide you’ve read on how to fight procrastination says the same thing: The hardest part is making yourself do the thing you need to do. You get an urge, deep inside, that prevents you from getting started. The moment we realize we need to gain time management skills usually occurs during college. Once we started writing an essay, the words were just flowing. However, we were usually putting the assignments off for so long that we were leaving ourselves with no realistic chances of writing the paper on time.

That bad habit follows us throughout our entire lives, and we have to stop it. The 2-minute rule is a simple solution that works. Here is how:

1. If a task doesn’t take more than two minutes, do it NOW.

That’s the most important principle to remember. It’s surprising how many things we can do in just two minutes.

Here are only few of them:

  • Load the dishwasher right after the meal;
  • Write that important email right now;
  • Make a plan for the day while having your morning coffee;
  • Clean up the desk where you work;
  • Make that call, right now;
  • Set the appointment now;
  • Take out the trash;
  • Make the bed as soon as you get up…

If we keep listing things you can do in two minutes, the list will be endless. The rule is simple: If you catch yourself thinking “I’ll send that email later,” fight that urge to procrastinate. Think instead, “It will only take two minutes… I’ll just do it now.”

2. If a task lasts longer than two minutes, break it down into steps.

You don’t think your life will be changed by making the bed as soon as you get up? It will. It’s all about the habit you’re developing. The habit that fights procrastination.

With this step, you’ll be taking things further. If the task takes more than two minutes, you should break it down into steps. For example, let’s say you’re writing an important report. You can’t get it done in two minutes. However, you can break the task down into shorter goals, such as:

  • Collect the materials you need;
  • Do the research;
  • Write the introduction;
  • Write the other parts, one by one;
  • Edit;
  • Ask for feedback;
  • Final improvements;
  • Submitting the report.

If collecting the materials takes more than two minutes, you break down that goal, too. What can you do in the two minutes you have right now? You can get at least two documents. Get them. Once you get through that stage, you’ll be on your way to being productive. You’ll start, and that’s what’s important for getting things done.

How the 2-Minute Rule Works in Real Life

When you see it in writing, the 2-minute rule seems too simple, but in practice, that’s exactly why it works: It’s too simple to ignore.

You want to start eating healthier? Eat a banana, right now!

You want to be serious about exercising? Do one Sun Salutation. It’s enough to get your blood flowing in the morning.

You want to read more books this year? Start reading one right now! Two minutes are enough for the first page.

The point behind this principle is to get yourself started doing something. Once you take the first step, it will be easy to achieve the goals on your list.