Posted by: Simon | April 16, 2008

Bang for buck productivity

One of the greatest problems with having such a vibrant, some might say over-zealous, productivity industry all around us is the very people who need the most help may well be overwhelmed and not know where to start. I suspect it is also one of the reasons that master procrastinators, like my former self, can conveniently use as a justification for not trying to get our act together and learning to be more effective with our time. Notice I said effective, not efficient. I am happy to be more efficient on the way to being more effective but this is my true goal.

So, in one of the many “the teacher arrives when the student is ready” moments that I have had I can now say that one of the most powerful yet simple habits that I have learned is the two minute rule I picked up in David Allen’s Getting Things Done. The value of this simple change hit home when I read Neil Fiore’s The Now Habit. I realised that in most instances I was not putting the sage advice I got as a kid to “not put off until tomorrow what I can do today” into practice. Instead I was almost doing the reverse. Now I get so much more accomplished and I’m less stressed about the sum total of commitments that I have at any one time. What I see now is that it takes more energy and creates more drag on my system to remember to do something that can be accomplished in two minutes or less than it does to just simply do it. Reply to that email. File that receipt. Make that bed. Put those breakfast bowls straight in the dishwasher. Lock that shed. Make that decision your subordinate needs.

I believe that if creating this habit was the only change you made in your life you would still see a huge increase in productivity (and a corresponding decrease in stress). Therefore productivity doesn’t have to be overwhelming and anyone can start, any time. Go on. Give it a go. You won’t regret it.

Photo: ToniVC


  1. Great post! I wish my husband would learn to put the bowls straight into the dishwasher. ;)

  2. Perhaps this post will inspire him Alyson – let’s hope so!


  3. This would be a huge challenge for me. I am not an organized person. My friend has a saying, “Don’t put it down, put it away.” WOrds to live by (but I can’t seem to). I am often in a rush to the next thing on the list that I end up doing the dump and run game with the intentions that I will put it away before bed. Then I’ll just be too tired to do it and will do it tomorrow and guess what? You got it!

    Right now my bedroom is straight which is a nice change. I will try and keep it that way. I am fortunate that my hub doesn’t get bothered by it. After 24 years, he may have just given up, who knows.

    This summer after school is out, I am on a mission to purge a bunch of stuff in my house in order to simplify my life and home. I don’t need half of the stuff in my small home. I would feel calmer with less stuff. So wish me well and I’ll take any advice on getting it done. I am feeling a bit overwhelmed.

  4. @Laurie: I’d pick one room as the starting point and then pick one part of that – a cupboard, cabinet etc. Make that the project so when it’s done you have the satisfaction of checking it off and feeling the forward momentum. Slowly but surely as time permits you will add to the list of achievements and be inching toward your goal of a simplified home. Small steps are key I think.

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