Last week, I wrote about how the unexpected gift of a bonus hour helped me overcome procrastination and get something done that I had been putting off for several months. Even if you don’t have an hour, you can probably spare two minutes. If you’re feeling stuck, applying the two-minute rule can help.
Earlier this year, I heard a talk by James Clear, author of Atomic Habits. His talk piqued my curiosity, so I decided to read the book.
There’s a lot of information in Atomic Habits. Like many of these kinds of books, much of it felt like common sense to me. However, one of the key learnings I took away from the book is how good habits often start with the smallest change. You may have heard the saying “Every journey starts with a single step.” That’s the basic premise of the two-minute rule.
You can do anything for two minutes
The idea of two minutes being enough to form a habit really got my attention. Skeptics might say you can’t make meaningful progress toward anything in two minutes, but Clear’s point is you can’t improve a habit that doesn’t exist.
He suggests starting with the smallest possible behaviour that moves you in the right direction. If you want to be a writer, commit to writing one sentence every day. If you want to form an exercise habit, lace up your running shoes and take a few steps every day. Then, reinforce in your mind that you are a person who writes every day, or who exercises every day.
After reading the book, I started applying the two-minute rule to journalling. Every morning, when I sit down with my tea, I reflect on the previous day and write in my journal. This has become part of my morning routine and I have missed very few days. Even more importantly, I often find I want to keep going after I get started and spend more than two minutes on a given task.
In Atomic Habits, Clear maintains the two-minute rule can help you master the art of showing up, and that’s how habits are formed.
Applying the two-minute rule to decluttering
As I thought more about the two-minute rule, I decided to see if it would work for decluttering as well.
I’ve been travelling a lot in 2023, so I’m feeling the clutter start to slowly creep back into my life. When you’re short on time, it’s easy to just set things down in the most convenient place—usually not the place the item belongs. If the two-minute rule works for writing, journaling, and exercising, could it also work for decluttering?
After I wrote Simple Living in a Complex World, my first post for Wise & Shine, Julia Preston of Voices In My Head left a comment suggesting a one-drawer-at-a-time decluttering challenge—or even one closet, or one room.
This felt like a perfect application for the two-minute rule, so I decided to give it a try. I did a mini decluttering challenge to clear up the area around the chair in my living room where I do most of my writing and reading. It worked! Here’s the proof.
A few days ago, as I sat in that newly cleaned-up area, I glanced over at the piano which always seems to be a magnet for junk. Another two-minute challenge was born!
Clearly, the two-minute rule has some merit. Now I’m seeing all sorts of areas where spending two minutes can make a difference. Maybe I’ll become a person who declutters every day.
Take the two-minute challenge this week
These types of mini challenges have worked for me, so let’s see how they can work for you.
Is there something you’ve been procrastinating about, or a new habit you’re wanting to develop? This week, try a two-minute challenge of your own. Then, drop me a comment below and let me know how it went.
The two-minute rule could be the start of something wonderful! What have you got to lose?