The two minute gnat attack

Gnats, those tiny, black, pesky bugs that seem to have innate radar for flying into eyes and mouths are out in full force this week. They are annoying and persistent not unlike some of the tasks on my to do list. I know that if I run I’ll have a moment of peace or I can wave my arms wildly swinging and clapping at the air and maybe decrease the population by …two or three. The same technique doesn’t work with my to do list. Running doesn’t make it go away and smacking the page only wrinkles it. What’s a girl to do?


As a David Allen (author of Getting Things Done) fan, I like to use the two minute rule. David says, “If the Next Action can be done in 2 minutes or less, do it when you first pick the item up.” Even if that item is not a “high priority”, because it takes longer to store and track any item than to deal with it the first time it’s in your head. (p. 131, “Getting Things Done”)

Every now and then I let those two minute tasks pile up usually because something else more important needs my attention. That’s when those little tasks begin to feel like a swarm of gnats. You can’t really see them, but you know they are there and they really “bug” me. So today, I set out to see how many two minute tasks I could complete in 30 minutes. I worked for two minutes on my email inbox, responding with a few quick replies, and then two minutes on deleting emails. Then it was on to sending a card, paying a bill and making a phone call. Two minutes of filing was followed by refilling the printer paper and clearing my desk. Then I had to fit in another two minutes deleting emails since it was so much fun. You get the idea, the more I did the more I wanted to do and having that timer go off every two minutes and switching to another activity made it much more like a game than work.  The result – I crossed off a number of tasks on the list, freed up some “psychic ram” (brain space) and probably lowered my blood pressure. Cost = 30 minutes, resulting feelings = priceless. Give it a try and let me know how you do by clicking on the comment link below. Ready, set ….go!