Two Minutes to Done – A Simple Rule for Being More Productive with Email

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Here at SaneBox, we’re all about helping you be more productive with email. No-one likes opening up their email client and seeing 87 unread emails. But, what if we could show you a way to get through your emails much more quickly so you can focus on other productive work?


Sound good? Thought so. Here’s the SaneBox Scoop on “Two minutes to done.”


Step 1 — Understand What “Two Minutes to Done” is


Two minutes to done is an approach to make you more productive. It was popularized by a popular productivity system called “Getting Things Done (GTD).” GTD is an amazing productivity system when it’s properly implemented, although it does take time and discipline to put it in place. However, the two-minute rule is easy to use, whether you use GTD or not.

The two-minute rule works as follows:

If the next action you need to make on something will take you fewer than two minutes, do it right now.


Step 2 — Understand Why This is a Good Way to Deal With Email


There are several good reasons why this is a great approach for email.

  • Not dealing with the email now could take you more than two minutes — you may need to set reminders, move it to a folder, flag it for follow-up, or do something else with it.
  • Not dealing with the email right now can create small amounts of mental stress — it will still be sitting in your inbox, and you will have to deal with it at some point.
  • You will feel much better after dealing with the email because there will be one fewer in your inbox.

Step 3 — Realize That “Two Minutes” Doesn’t Have to be Two Minutes


Two minutes is arbitrary. Depending on how fast you work and how quickly you want to deal with emails and clear your inbox, you might choose a limit of three, four, or five minutes. The important thing is to pick a duration that’s comfortable for you.


Step 4 — Use the Two Minutes to Done Rule for Your Email


Here’s how to use the rule on your inbox:

  • Sort your inbox by subject.
  • Read the subject lines of each email.
  • Make an assumption on if the action you need to make will take two minutes or fewer.
  • If it will, open up the email and deal with it right now.
  • If it won’t, flag the email to deal with it later.
  • If you’re taking action, do the next thing you need to, depending on the content of the email.
  • Repeat until you’ve cleared all your two minutes to done items.


Step 5 — Tweak and Refine Your Approach


Two minutes to done sounds really simple, and it is. But, you need the discipline to use it effectively. We recommend combining two minutes to done with our “batching” approach to dealing with email. As you continue to use this email productivity approach, tweak and refine it so you’re making the absolute most of your time.




And that’s it, a simple and straightforward rule to enhance the way you work with email and clear your inbox down faster. Soon, you will be the envy of all your peers, and the next step will be world domination!


For even more email productivity power, check out what else SaneBox can do for you. Enjoy features like smart and simple email filtering, SaneLater for unimportant email, SaneNoReplies for tracking what you still need to reply to, and SaneReminders for setting follow-up reminders.