Master your workload with the two minute rule

Master your workload with the Two Minute Rule

Managing workload  is a topic that regularly comes up in our Smart Bookies member forums. A common thread is questions and suggestions around how to manage a busy workload. Being a bookkeeper invariably involves compliance deadlines, unexpected client queries, planned jobs not going to plan – you get the gist!

There are many self-help books on time management – and there are some great tips to be learnt and tried out. There is no one magic system out there – try out the things that resonate with you. Rather than talking about time management Leaine likes to approach this as energy management. Finding your own way of working that fits your work day and personal rhythm. Then putting together a plan of action that is sustainable for you will more likely mean you will stick with it – giving you effective and consistent results.

Leaine’s toolkit includes two practices that she has dubbed ‘Leaine’s Law of 2:

  • The Two Minute Rule
  • The List of Two

Let’s take a look at the Two Minute Rule.

Coined by David Allen in his book ‘Getting Things Done’, the two-minute rule states that “If an action will take less than two minutes, it should be done at the moment it’s defined.”

Quick Wins:

  • Texts and Quick Email Responses: That message you’ve been putting off? If it can be handled in two minutes or less, tackle it immediately. Clear that inbox clutter swiftly.
  • Confirm Appointments: Got an appointment reminder? Need to set up a Zoom chat? Confirm it right away. It’s a small action that prevents last-minute scheduling chaos. Checking your calendar at the beginning of the week can identify conflicts or something that you might otherwise miss. Use tow minutes to rectify if needed.
  • Filing and Organizing: That stack of papers on your desk? Sort it out. File documents, organize folders, and declutter your workspace. One of the best pieces of advice Leaine ever received (while she was in a crisis burnout work situation) was to ‘put everything in a box’. Physically moving piles of work into a big box to be dealt with ruthlessly later can be a game-changer to get you feeling back in control and able to focus on the task at hand.
  • Tidying Your Desk: A cluttered desk can hinder focus. Spend a couple of minutes tidying up—put away pens, straighten paperwork, put away what is not needed right now, and create a clear workspace for your day. Leaine’s tip for this is to do it the night before, or before you start your new workday

Efficiency in Batches: Blitz Mode

Don’t let these two-minute tasks accumulate throughout the day. Instead, use focused blocks of time to blitz through them. Set aside specific intervals—maybe during your mid-morning coffee break or right after lunch—to knock out several quick tasks at once. Remember, efficiency breeds productivity. Leaine likes to spend 30 minutes in-between her ‘List of  2’ key projects to switch her brain to less taxing things.

Tagging Emails: A Strategic Approach

Emails often fall into the two-minute category. When you scan your inbox, tag those that require minimal effort. Then, during your designated blitz time, tackle them all at once. Respond, archive, or delete—whatever it takes to keep your inbox streamlined.

Beyond Two Minutes: Next Steps

For tasks that demand more than two minutes, don’t procrastinate. Instead, break them down into actionable steps. Consider:

  • Delegation: Can someone else handle part of this task? Allocate where possible.
  • Scheduling: Add the necessary steps to your calendar or task management tool.
  • Decision Time: If it’s a matter of ‘do or delete’, make a prompt decision.

Remember, the Two-Minute Rule isn’t just about speed; it’s about momentum. By addressing small tasks promptly, you create a sense of accomplishment and free mental space to focus on your more important projects.

So, the next time you’re faced with a quick task, ask yourself: “Can I do this in two minutes or less?” If the answer is yes, seize the moment and get it done. Give your energy a boost, take charge of your day!

Next time we will look at Leaine’s ‘List of Two’.

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