What is the 2 Minute Rule and How It Helps You Become Productive

James Clear

Businessman, author of the book Atomic Habits. How to acquire good habits and get rid of bad ones.

I recently started applying one rule that has helped me procrastinate a lot less and stick to good habits a lot easier. I want to share it with you so you can try this method and see how well it works. The best part about it is that it is an extremely simple rule that is incredibly easy to put into practice. Here’s what you need to know about it.

What is the 2 minute rule?

It says, “When you start a new habit, it should take no more than 2 minutes.”

Almost everything can be reduced to a two-minute version:

  • “Read every day” becomes “read one page a day”.
  • Do yoga for 30 minutes – pull the yoga mat out of the closet.
  • Prepare for the lecture – open notes.
  • Fold clean clothes – fold one pair of socks.
  • Run a kilometer – tie shoelaces on sneakers.

The main idea is to make the habit as easy as possible in the beginning. Everyone is able to meditate for a minute, read one page, or put one thing away. This is a working strategy, because once we start doing something, it is much easier for us to continue.

A new habit should not feel like a challenge. The next activities related to it can be difficult, but the first 2 minutes should be easy. You need a kind of “introductory habit” that will help you get on the path of productivity.

In finding such habits, it helps to write down all your desires and goals and distribute them on a scale from the easiest to the most difficult. For example, the goal of “running a marathon” is very difficult. Running 5 km is hard. Walk 10 thousand steps – medium difficulty. Walking in the park for 10 minutes is easy. And putting on the shoes is very easy. Your end goal might be “run a marathon” and your introductory habit might be “put on your running shoes.” This is how I use the 2-minute rule.

Why the 2 Minute Rule Works

Often people find it rather strange to be happy with one page read , one minute of meditation, or one call to a client. But in fact, the main purpose of this rule is not to do one thing, but to learn how to be consistent. Before you can perfect it, the habit must become a part of your life. Once you start doing something every day, it will be much easier for you to absorb the small details. First you need to decide on the basic settings and only then change them for yourself.

When you learn to be consistent, those 2 minutes will become a ritual before a much bigger deal. The 2 Minute Rule is not just a life hack that will allow you to introduce good habits into your life. It’s also the perfect way to learn complex skills. The more rituals you follow at the beginning of work, the better you will focus on achieving your goals.

For example, a short warm-up before training helps to achieve better results. The same ritual before going to bed allows you to go to the arms of Morpheus much faster. You may not be able to automate the entire process, but you will definitely be able to accurately follow the first few steps.

To some, the “2-minute rule” will seem like a trick. After all, you know that your goal is not to tie your shoelaces, but to run a marathon. And if you understand that this is a scam, then how will it work? If you feel a bit artificial, try another option: stop after 2 minutes. Go for a run and stop after 2 minutes. Start meditating and finish in 2 minutes. It’s not a strategy to start with, it’s a strategy – your habit can only last 120 seconds.

One of my readers used this approach to lose over 45 kg. At first he visited the gym every day, but spent only 5 minutes there. As soon as the time was up, he went home. After a few weeks, he looked around and thought, “I still go here all the time. You can stay longer.” A few years later, he achieved the desired result.

Such strategies work for another reason. They force us to cultivate new character traits in ourselves. When we go to the gym five days in a row, even for 5 minutes, we are contributing to our new personality. It’s not about getting in shape, it’s about becoming a person who doesn’t skip workouts. We take a small step towards the person we want to be.

Unfortunately, we rarely think about changes from this point of view, because we are too focused on the final point. But pushing once is better than zero. Playing a guitar for a minute is better than keeping it in a closet. It’s better to do less than to do nothing.

The next time you want to introduce a new habit into your routine, use the 2-minute rule. This is a great and easy way to change yourself and your life.

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