In his book "Getting Things Done," David Allen talks about the power of the "Two Minute Rule" as it applies to our productivity and keeping our heads empty of all the little things we need to do.
The concept is simple: If you have a task to do -- a email that you just received, responding to a voice mail message, dealing with something that has landed on your desk, etc. and it can DEFINITELY be done in two minutes or less, then go ahead and DO IT.
NOT doing it, means writing it down or putting it on a task list or trying to keep track of it in your head. By the time we do get around to doing it, we've probably spent MORE than two minutes processing it FOR completion.
Is there something magic about two minutes -- could it be a one minute rule or a three minute rule? Certainly, but the message is this: If it can be done quickly, go ahead and do it. Determine what "quickly" means for you, but something in the one to three minute range is probably best, otherwise the time accumulates and you run the risk of counter-productivity.
Some examples of things that can be done in two minutes or less:
• Returning a phone call to set up an appointment or confirm an appointment
• A quick reply to an important email -- If it's important and can be done in a couple of minutes, go ahead and take care of it
• A quick follow up email to someone thanking them for their time
• Reviewing a document that someone just sent you (assuming the document is just a few pages long)
• A quick decision that needs to be made that someone else is waiting for -- Decide, and move on
• Filing a document away instead of letting it pile up on your desk-- Even if you have to quickly create a new file, the total task can usually be done in a couple of minutes
• Listening to your voice mail messages
• A quick call back to someone who's simply waiting for a quick response answer from you (as opposed to a conversation)
IDEA: Pick a 10 or 15-minute block of time, twice each day, and handle a series of two-minute tasks. You'll be surprised at how much you get done by the end of the week.
So...What do you have in front of you RIGHT NOW that can be done in two minutes or less?