Author David Allen poses the question, "How long will it take to deal with this item?" and then shows you now to Do, Delegate, or Defer to get things done.
- Once you actually decide what the very next action is on an actionable item, you have three options. First of all you can actually do the action right then and that's our recommendation if that action can be done in two minutes or less. This is the famous two minute rule of Getting Things Done. The two minute rule simply says, if you decide an action item and where you are and the context your in if you can actually finish that action in less than two minutes, do it right then, if you're ever gonna do it at all. Because it would take you longer to stack it, track it and look at it again then it would be to finish it the first time it's in your face.
And two minutes doesn't mean that it's not an important thing, many times the next action on some of your most strategic things is a two minute action. It might be a quick email you need to shoot to somebody. It might be something you need to, just a piece of information you need to pull off the website. So two minutes. Now the two minute rule applies really when you're cleaning up. That is when you're cleaning up your in basket. You don't necessarily wanna spend all your day doing just two minute actions. So ideally you just wanna as you're cleaning house then a lot of stuff actually gets done in the process. If your in a high email environment by the way, 30 to 40% of your actionable emails you could probably dispatch in two minutes or less.
So keep that in mind, do the two minute ones. Longer than two minutes, then you need to ask yourself the next key question. The second D to deal with would be, can it be delegated, are you the appropriate person to actually do that action. Is there somebody else around you who's more appropriate to do that? Do you have an assistant, do you have somebody who reports to you, a colleague or a peer? When we talk about organizing, one of the key organizing categories will be agendas that you hold for meetings and also for people. So sometimes the way you'll delegate is just add that to the agenda to go over with Susan or Marcos or whoever that you're going to hand this thing off to.
So delegate if you can. And if you can't do that, in other words you're it, it takes longer to do this action item and you're the one to do it, that's then the third D, would be defer. That's then what I need to then organize as a reminder of work to do that only I can do. That's a long document I need to draft. Or that's a spreadsheet that I need to fill out or to design. Or that's a presentation that I actually need to craft in Power Point or Keynote. So you might wanna see, are there any two minute actions sitting around you that you could do right now, just to get a feel for that.
Is there anything you wanna hand off or delegate to somebody else. See if there's something there that you might wanna do just to practice this. And if it is then something for you to do and to hang on to, don't worry. Two minutes or less, do it. Longer then two minutes, hand it off if you can. And if you can't do that, defer.
Skill Level Beginner
Q: This course was updated on 1/02/2015. What changed?
A: We added 45 minutes of new content in the Bonus Interview chapter. Learn why Getting Things Done is different from other productivity improvement methods, and how it can work for you, your family, and your team.