Epistemic Status: Reference
A while ago, I read the book Getting Things Done. Like most productivity books and systems, it includes detailed advice that approximately no one will follow. Unlike most productivity books and systems, it has two highly valuable key concepts. The second alone justified the time cost of reading the book. That principles are these:
Keep a record of tasks you’ve decided to do.
If you decide to eventually do a task that requires less than two minutes to do, that can efficiently be done right now, do it right now.
This wording is a refinement of the original concept of applying the two-minute rule during ‘processing time’ only. I think it’s much better to use it any time doing the new task can be done efficiently – it’s not waiting on anything, you have the necessary tools, it wouldn’t interfere too much with your state, with a key short-term deadline, or the need to protect a large or important block of time, etc etc.
Having this simple concept in your head – it’s better, once you notice something that you need to do, to just do it now rather than add it to your stack of things to do – has saved me far more trouble than one might expect.
Two minutes is a placeholder. Some people should use a lower or more often higher time threshold. The threshold should be adjusted based on the situation.
The book also contains a detailed method of how to create and maintain the list of tasks. It seemed annoying and overly complex and not suited to the way I think, and I never gave it a real try. The basic principle of ‘have a system that ensures such tasks are not forgotten’ still seems very strong.
The principle remains, and can be usefully extended further, which I plan to do in additional posts. But better to, by its own principles, write and get this posted now, so I can refer back to it.