Beat Procrastination with the 2-Minute Rule

When you start a new habit, make it so that it takes less than two minutes to accomplish a repetition.

That’s the 2-Minute Rule.

You’ll find that nearly any habit can be scaled down into a 2-minute version:

  • “Read each day” becomes “Read one page each day.”
  • “Do a 30-minute workout” becomes “Put on gym clothes.”
  • “Fold the laundry” becomes “Fold 2 shirts.”

The idea is to make your habits as easy as possible to start. Anyone can meditate for one minute, read one page, or put one item of clothing away. What you want is what James Clear calls a “gateway habit” that naturally leads you down a more productive path.

You may think it’s weird to get hyped about reading one page or meditating for one minute or making one sales call. But the point is not to do one thing. The point is to master the habit of showing up.

A habit must be established before it can be improved. If you can’t learn the basic skill of showing up, then you have little hope of mastering the finer details.

Instead of trying to engineer a perfect habit from the start, do the easy thing on a more consistent basis.

Strategies like this work for another reason too: they reinforce the identity you want to build.

You’re taking the smallest action that confirms the type of person you want to be.

We rarely think about change this way because everyone is consumed by the end goal.

But one push-up is better than not exercising. One minute of yoga is better than none at all. One minute of reading is better than never picking up a book.

It’s far better to do less than you hoped than to do nothing at all.

Next time you are struggling to stick with a habit, use the 2-Minute Rule. It’s a stupidly simple but effective way to make your habits easier.

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