How one man uses the '2-minute rule' to get more done in his busy day

The productivity rule is simple: if you can do a task in 2 minutes or less, do it now.
Interior designer using a mobile phone in the office
Set 15-30 minutes aside each morning to figure out what you'll do now, what you'll delegate, what you'll delete, and what you'll schedule for later.Eric Audras / Getty Images
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By Julie Compton

The “2 minute rule” helps auto insurance claims adjuster J.R. Heimbigner get through his hectic day.

A philosophy coined by David Allen in his bestselling book “Getting Things Done,” the productivity rule is simple: if you can do a task in 2 minutes or less, do it now.

J.R. HeimbignerCourtesy of J.R. Heimbigner

Heimbigner, 34, started using the rule about a year ago because he was always trying to cram his work into “just a little bit of time.

“It really helps me move from one task to the next very quickly,” Heimbigner tells NBC News BETTER.

Here’s how it works, according to Heimbigner, who writes regularly about productivity on his blog “JR Heimbigner” from his home in Spokane, Washington.

The “2-Minute Rule”:

  • If you can complete a task in under 2 minutes, do it now.
  • If it’s something somebody else should do, delegate it.
  • If it’s not something that’s important, delete it.
  • If it’s something important but time consuming, schedule it for later so you have plenty of time to focus on it.

Heimbigner, who dedicated a chapter to the rule in his soon-to-be-published book “Productivity Success“, says he sets 15-30 minutes aside each morning to figure out what he’ll do now, what he’ll delegate, what he’ll delete, and what he’ll schedule for later.

Heimbigner likens the 2-minute rule to a “triage system” that helps him pick up more and more momentum throughout his busy day.

Here’s how he breaks it down:

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It’ll take 2 minutes — do it now

Heimbigner looks at everything he needs to get done. Tasks that he can do in 2 minutes or less, like quick phone calls and email responses, he tackles right away.

“Most phone calls don’t last longer than 2 minutes unless it’s going to be very in-depth,” he says, “and if it’s going to be in-depth, I schedule that another time.”

It’s not for you — delegate it

Heimbigner delegates any work he can’t do to the administrative professionals in his office — mostly mail that needs to be sent out, he says.

“I stack it and take it to them after I’m done with my 2-minute rule in the morning,” he says.

If it’s something that requires him to follow up, he schedules a reminder to reach out to the person he delegated the work to.

“If it’s a customer service-related item or something that carries legal liability, I will tend to follow up on those just to make sure,” he says.

It’s unimportant — delete it

Heimbigner receives many voicemails and emails from people in his industry that are simple FYIs that don’t require him to take action.

“It’s just for me to know, and so I just acknowledge it and delete it,” he says.

It’s important — file it for later

Heimbigner determines which projects will require his concentration, like medical record reviews and in-depth client phone calls, and schedules them into his calendar for later in the day when he has time to focus.

“When those come in the morning, I go, ‘OK, I’m going to set time aside and schedule that later, file away the paperwork instead of leaving it out on my desk,’” he says.

Heimbigner likens the 2-minute rule to a “triage system” that helps him pick up more and more momentum throughout his busy day.

“I really feel like I can move through the rest of the day without these urgent fires taking over me,” says Heimbigner.

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