We all know those people (or we are one of them) who have many great talents and could do so much, only if they weren’t procrastinating their way through life. They postpone their tasks till the last minute and make themselves suffer enormous amounts of stress and anxiety in order to get things done on time. The worst thing about it is that once they waste all their energy fighting the temptation for instant gratification when completing mundane tasks, they leave no room for the really important stuff, such as their favorite hobby, or any activity that boosts their self-growth and creativity.
2-minute rule that triggers immediate actions
If you came to a point when you realized how seriously procrastination affects your life and health, you have probably came across the 2-minute rule solution in your search for remedy. The approach works because it is ridiculously easy and it can be applied to any task at hand no matter its size. It affects the root of the procrastinating process – the problem of starting the activity. The more time-consuming the activity is, the bigger resistance to starting it is created in the mind of the procrastinator.
Relative to the size of the task or project, the rule can be applied in two ways:
- The first one is to do the short and easy tasks right away to avoid cluttering your space and mind.
- The second way is applied to bigger projects and things that require more time and effort.
Originating from Newton’s first law of motion that states that objects in rest stay at rest and objects in motion stay in motion, the 2-minute rule in this case means finishing the project 2 minutes at a time. This helps the person who is performing it not to feel overwhelmed and discouraged, but to start lightly, and soon the action will gain momentum leading to longer hours of productivity. As proposed by researches at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia, the way to start any bigger project is to break it down into as many micro tasks as possible whose completion will lead to increase in motivation needed for further action.
Why do we procrastinate?
- Feeling of not being good enough – For many people the reason behind putting things off for as long as possible is the belief that they don’t possess the right skills and talents.
- Overwhelmed by the size of the task – Another common reason for procrastination is the resistance felt by people when facing great, time-consuming projects.
- The need for instant gratification – In most cases people tend to postpone their tasks due to lack of willingness to fight the human impulse to do only the most pleasing and undemanding things.
The 2-minute rule provides solution in all three cases as it helps to push through the initial doubt, since with 2 minutes in the activity our confidence levels start to grow and our need for gratification lessens as the process itself becomes gratifying enough. As previously mentioned, the rule is equally efficient in larger assignments as it helps to shift the focus from big end product to small bite-size two-minute steps.
How to apply the 2-minute rule
1. Start small
Let’s take the task of losing weight for example. For most people who struggle to lose those extra pounds this is one of the bigger projects. Therefore, instead of immediately rushing to face the great challenge, you should prepare the way by working on small, unrelated things. Doing everyday chores while they are still in the 2-minute-task category will help you to set foundation for the doer mindset. As the time goes, the momentum will take over, making it more natural and effortless and you will soon be able to transfer the approach to more complex issues.
2. Raise the bar
Once you have developed a habit of doing little tasks, it is time to apply the same principle to a greater project. By taking the different perspective and dividing the strategy for weight loss into 2-minute actions that help to start the process, the entire task won’t seem so demanding. In addition, as you go through easily achievable bits, your motivation will grow, making you more eager to continue. In the beginning, these 2-minute actions would be anything from preparing the low-calorie meal to getting dressed and leaving the house for jogging. As you go along, you will feel much more willing to set further challenges.
3. Postpone reward
As opposed to seeking instant gratification and risk losing energy doing things that are not of the utmost importance in that moment, you should postpone it for after the completion. This way, you enhance your motivation as you have something to look forward to for later. Treating yourself to a movie after finishing Pilates class will improve not only your looks and health, it will also give you rest from guilt as the reward comes as something you earned.