The 12-minute rule
Mon 04 January 2010
, Taco Oosterkamp, Lifehacking.nl
With Getting Things Done, David Allen introduced the world to his Two-Minute Rule. It’s a handy principle, but slowly I’m beginning to enjoy the 12-minute rule just as much.
My Belgian friend Johan D’Haeseleer taught me the 12-minte rule. Johan told me he keeps a kitchen timer on his desk set at 12 minutes. Each time the alarm goes off, he re-sets it. This is even easier with a digital timer. Johan uses his timer to prevent being distracted. So every 12 minutes he’s reminded of whether he’s indeed doing what he had planned.
I use the 12-minute rule a little differently, though. I set my digital kitchen timer at 12 minutes and use the time to handle as much e-mail as I can. When the alarm goes off, I check if I can process more e-mails or do something else.
This prevents me from losing myself in handling e-mails all the time. If I’m not careful I can easily spend 2 hours mailing. When I’m overly concentrated on my mails, I get overwhelmed. It works better when I take a short break every now and then, instead of being in my inbox all the time.
Besides, using the 12-minute rule makes me pretty efficient, because of the race against the clock. That way, handling e-mails becomes something of a sport. So, that’s how I use my 12-minute rule. I’m curious to know how it works for you.