A Simple Method to Start a New Habit

Rules with time intervals attached to them are easy to remember and implement. They may not always be helpful or practical, but they’re sticky in the mind.

The “5-second rule”.

The “5-minute rule of procrastination.”

The ”10-minute rule”, which is honestly a lazy self-help clickbait derivative of the 5-minute rule.

It goes on and on. The most recent one I came across was the 2-minute rule. As a quick experiment, I Googled in a number followed by a time interval just to see what rule it defined. If you’re interested, I noted my findings below. 

1-MinuteGretchen Rubin’s rule to get things done, almost exactly the same as GTD 2-minute rule.2-MinuteGTD Rule. And habit formation rule. 3-MinuteA book on pitching/presentations. And a nautical navigation rule. 4-MinuteHealthcare rule for bonding with patients. 5-MinuteMethod of helping fight procrastination by just putting in 5-minutes and permitting yourself to quit after 5 minutes.6-MinuteAlso, a nautical navigation rule. 7-MinuteAn HR guide that allows for rounding employees time for payroll. 8-MinuteA medicare rule for physical therapists to receive reimbursement for services. 9-MinuteThis one had the least info. Seems it’s not a memorable enough number. But the closest rule was a mom who posted there's 9-minutes to make an impact on your child's attention. 10-MinuteAs noted earlier, just a derivative of the 5-minute rule. Or the 5-minute is a derivative of the 10-minute rule. Time Interval Rules

If you’re a time management optimizing junky, you may be familiar with the GTD (Getting Things Done) 2-minute rule, which is basically if you can complete a task in 2-minutes or less, do it as soon as it occurs to you. This is a helpful tip for completing minor tasks and has been a North Star in forcing me to reload toilet paper instead of just stacking the new roll on top of the old. But it’s not what I’m referring to today. 

The two-minute rule I’m talking about is from James Clear’s book, Atomic Habits. This two-minute rule is more a guideline to assist in paving the neural pathways to forming a consistent habit. For example, if I want to read more books, the two-minute rule of starting that habit would be to read a page a day. Or if you want to get stronger, the 2-minutes rule might be to do as many pushups as you can in two minutes. The point is to come up with something that you can do every day for 2 minutes.  

At first blush, this seems kind of a waste of energy. How is reading a page a day or only doing pushups going to achieve bigger goals? It helps by identifying all the logistical decisions you have to make to stick to something in the long run. 

If I want to do 2 minutes of pushups, when and where do I do it? If I’m too busy in the morning getting ready for work, then can I do it at work? Do I do it as soon as I get home? Basically, everything I have to address if I had a more ambitious practice is still relevant with a bite-sized, two-minute version because it will force me to test assumptions. 

When IBM used to be a sales juggernaut, much of their success was attributed to their setting lower quotas than what was realistically projected. This gave them the confidence to overshoot their quotas by leaps and bounds. Once you’ve built the smaller habit, you create the confidence to sustain longer bouts of whatever it is you’re trying to do. 

I’ve been loosely trying to apply the 2-minute rule in my own life. Not by timing it or anything, but just testing out short micro-habits to identify obstacles that might get in the way of accomplishing something bigger. It’s proving surprisingly helpful. For instance, as I’ve said before in another post, I have mounds of papers and digital clutter that have just accumulated over the years. Applying two minutes every day to just organize a couple things or identify if I should keep or toss it gives me a sense of progress. What seemed infinitely insurmountable feels doable now. 

As you can see below, unless backed by research and data (like the 3-minute and 6-minute rules of nautical navigation), anyone can take a time-interval and apply it to a concept. Some of this stuff can feel a bit gimmicky no doubt, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t an idea of value to be gleaned from it. At the end of the day, we’re all just trying to find strategies to solve minor/major short-term and long-term problems. 

I suggest trying it out. Worst case scenario, you waste a couple minutes in your day. 

Cool Stuff

Here's a mashup of what I've gotten into this week.

Recipe of the Week | Mayak Eggs. These jammy, delicious eggs were so freakin’ good. A Korean banchan version of ramen eggs. I had to restrict myself to only one a day. Okay two. Easy and simple recipe too.

Music: Cappuccino Lovely: No. 2. Milk by Chin Cheng Lin | I heard this song from Tim Ferris’s newsletter. Normally, I’m not a huge fan of his eclectic musical tastes, but this one is my jam. I’ve recently found the value in listening more to instrumental songs since I can’t focus on writing when there're lyrics to a song.  

New Tactic - Listen to Youtube/Podcasts 2X with AirPods - I listen to a lot of Youtube lectures and interviews. Because I’m greedy and want to review more videos with limited time, I tried watching them at 2X speed, but the audio sounded too garbled so I missed important details. Recently, I tried it with AirPods and it was like BOOM! I caught everything! It’s my new go-to tactic if I’m working out or doing a repetitive, mindless task.

Short Film of the Week | Hair Love - Oscar-winning short animated film. I love films without dialogue because they’re so darn hard to make. For me, the most resonating stories are the ones that hone in on highlighting and celebrating the smaller moments in life. This film gave me all the feels. 


Subscribe to the Visual I.D.E.A.s newsletter to get 4 of my favorite visuals every 2 weeks.

Visual I.D.E.A.s

Visual I.D.E.A.s

©2024 Milani Creative LLC. All Rights Reserved

©2024 Milani Creative LLC. All Rights Reserved