miércoles, 16 de enero de 2013

When the two minutes rule plays against us

The two minutes rule is an excellent productive habit without a doubt. But there are circumstances in which follow it to rigorously complicates the progress on the most important activities. Especially on those that require more time and concentration.

I have to admit that the application of the rule of two minutes to my list of habits has provoked a huge transformation in my productivity. A long list of activities that were occupying my head when they were left as pending were easily closed with a little time spent executing them. This action freed my mind of concerns, allowing to me to maintain a greater ability to do in day by day basis

Before reading Getting ThingsDone by David Allen, I had built intuitively the notion that if something could be resolved quickly was better to settle it soon. Doing so it wasn´t still occupying my mind in its realization.

However, the overuse of this rule can lead to a loss of our ability to devote the right time to the important issues. And I mean both: in quantity and in quality time.

The first example that I would like to discuss is the interruptions, of course of "two minutes".

When you are doing something important, though a task can be done in two minutes, it is preferable to sometimes leave it for a more appropriate time rather than interrupt an activity that requires concentration and intense dedication to be completed.

It is true that if we can solve the interruption fast, many times it´s not worth planting a non to whom is stopping us. But no less certain is that one of our main responsibilities is always to decide how we apply our time. And if that time is dedicated to addressing recurrent interruptions of short duration and by the mere habit of avoiding saying “NO”, it is not very likely that we are not applying enough time to the most relevant activities and that requires more dedication on our part. There is where should enter in the game our abilities to prioritize and make decisions; then negotiate.

Another interesting to consider case is when one takes as usual get the activities of two minutes first, because once completed only remaining things which require more time and possibly more important.  If the list of tasks that can be completed in two minutes is relatively short, this method can be valid and “Yes”, it has the advantage that clears the mind of concerns about pending tasks that disappear from the scene with very little effort.

 But... If this same list is long enough, one may end up occupying a large portion of useful time of the day to resolve things that maybe are not as important, relegating precious time and sometimes of the better quality that could be dedicated to our most valuable interests. Ultimately, in this case what one ends up exposing is a poor prioritization of tasks.
I do not put in this discussion the case of those tasks of 'alleged two minutes' that suddenly become "thieves of time" and destroy us any pre-planning. Here you can have from a calculation error, which is resolved with the experience, to situations of full force majeure that simply must be tackled and that all what you need is sufficient flexibility in order to avoid producing a setback in our organization system.

Managing our time is more an art than a science. There are useful rules, but as in all cases, we must never lose sight our priorities. From my point of view, unless removing a “two minutes task” of my list ensures that you I will have more time for a more important task, you should always begin to perform those which are of greatest relevance in terms of its consequences.