How You Can Apply James Clear’s 2-Minute Rule to Almost Any Situation
James Clear is the habit guru of our times. For years he’s been experimenting with building better habits as an entrepreneur and writer. When you read through his annual reviews from 2013–2019, you’ll realize he’s walking his talk.
You know a book was worth your time when the application of what you read improved your life.
Clear’s Atomic Habits was such a book for me. The 2-Minute Rule improved how I approach new desired habits. It helped me smooth into a daily yoga and meditation practice. But the 2-Minute Rule can help you with any other habit you want to implement.
Here’s how and why the concept works as well as real-life examples of how you can best use it for you.
When you start a new habit…
… it should take less than two minutes.
This makes your habits incredibly easy to start with. Instead of tackling a big task, all it takes is one micro-step. And once you’ve started doing your desired activity, it becomes easier to continue with it.
Clear’s 2-Minute Rule builds on David Allen’s productivity tip to do everything that takes less than two minutes immediately.
By making it incredibly easy and quick to start with, you’re showing up for your desired habit. Of course, tieing your running shoes won’t help you run a marathon. But before you aim for the perfect habit and give up midway through, showing up consistently is way more important.
As Clear writes, “you have to standardize before you can optimize.” The more you internalize the beginning of a process, the easier it’ll be for you to slip into a flow state.
For a year, I failed to build a consistent yoga practice. One of my big five for life is to live in a healthy, flexible body. But 1.5 hours of daily Ashtanga practice felt too hard. For months, I didn’t even bother trying and only practiced twice a week in a yoga studio.
The 2-Minute Rule changed everything for me. Since I applied this trick, you’ll find me on my yoga mat almost any morning. I committed to doing yoga 2 minutes a day — getting in my yoga pants and do one sun salutation. Sometimes I stop afterward. Sometimes I continue with some more salutations and parts of the first Asthanga series.
But whether I do it for 2 or 60 minutes — what matters is showing up. By practicing every day, I’m slowly but steadily heading towards my desired identity of a flexible, healthy yogini.
Whether you’re struggling to form new learning, health, work, or relationship habits, the application of James Clear’s trick can help you start and stick to your desired process. Here’s the application of the 2-Minute Rule to different life areas.
Learning & Organization
- Read a book → read one page
- Do an online course → open MOOC page
- Clean the apartment → put your shoes in the right place
- Fold the laundry → fold one pair of pants
Health & Fitness
- Run five miles → tie your running shoes
- Meditate in the morning → sit down on your meditation pillow
- Become fit → do one push-up
- Do a yoga session → get into yoga clothes
- Eat healthy → google one new recipe
Work & Productivity
- Clear your inbox → answer one e-mail
- Do deep work → put your phone into airplane mode
- Clear your inbox → answer one e-mail
- Become a writer → write down one idea
Relationships & Love
- Meet new people → connect with one new person
- Love your family → send a short thank you to your mum
- Be a kind partner → ask your partner about their day
Does starting for 2 minutes really help?
I promise it does. Because often, our wrong perception of the future holds us back. When we start putting our shoes in the right place, we realize it’s not that bad after all. We might continue with another tiny cleaning habit and soon find ourselves in an organized apartment.
When you start with two minutes, it’s much easier to continue with your activity. If you just remember one thing, it’s the following for your new habits:
“Make it easy to start and the rest will follow.”
— James Clear
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