The 2 Minute Rule, Productivity Books, and Regret

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    Welcome to this week’s edition!

    As ever each week we drop a video to help you more productive in work and life, a future of work insight and share our favorite new thing. Let’s get going!

    In our day-to-day work at BillionMinds we read lots of personal productivity books. We are not alone. Some of these books are huge bestsellers. But many of us still struggle to implement the recommendations in these books. Does this mean that the books don’t work?

    Well, based on our findings the answer is quite complicated, but in general, the answer is that most personal productivity books CAN work if you follow them consistently, but trying to follow them consistently is really hard. Here’s why…

    First, the chances are that you are wired differently than the author and the success stories they present. Take organization for example – we could all use being organized, but the specific techniques that work for us are going to be different.

    Second, in most cases, the book is long on theory and short on practice. In reality to embed new habits you need at least a 1:4 ratio of theory to practice and often more than that. So if you stick with the book, you may gain an idea of what you SHOULD do, but you will have done very little to get the habits to stick.

    Finally, these types of books provide almost no support and accountability. The vast majority of us find it difficult to make real meaningful changes without support and accountability from others. That’s not our fault – it’s part of what it is to be human. We are naturally wired to resist change, so we need extra support to overcome our inbuilt friction.

    In many ways, you can think of these books as similar to diet books. In most cases it’s not that the advice is bad, it’s just very difficult to implement, and if YOU find it difficult to make these changes, well you are just a normal human being.

    Does this mean you should give up trying to improve? Not at all. However, it does mean that you are more likely to be successful with programs that focus on self-discovery, require practice and provide support and accountability.


    Of course, we still love books at BillionMinds and are happy to recommend a very thought-provoking one this week. Not that Dan Pink needs a recommendation from us – every one of his seven books to date has been a best-seller.

    The Power of Regret is interesting because it swims against a strong “no regrets” tide that is prevalent in our culture today. Pink argues that regret is one of the core elements of what makes us human and that harnessing our regrets can help us in many ways. It’s an interesting companion to one of his previous books – Drive, because regret can be a driving force that helps us change our future behaviors.

    The Tip: Combine the two-minute rule with dedicated focus for productivity

    Video Length: 75 Seconds

    Two of the most famous books you will find on personal productivity are Getting Things Done by David Allen and The Pomodoro Technique by Francesco Cirillo. Both are absolutely worth a read if you want to work on your productivity, but with the caveat we always provide when recommending any books on this topic – the specifics of what will work for you will be personal in nature (more on that in a moment).

    In today’s tip, we look at how you can combine one of the more famous elements of Getting Things Done (the two-minute rule) with the focus periods that Cirillo espouses in The Pomodoro Technique.

    About Us

    BillionMinds bring you Skills for the Future of Work each and every week. But that’s not all we do. We also help employees and managers in companies around the world embed key soft skills to thrive in the modern workplace and get certified in those skills. Each of our Learn/Do experiences is less than 10 minutes a day and you can see meaningful change within two weeks.

    We work with both companies and individual employees. Certification programs start at $200 and we provide discounts for those seeking work. For more information, visit us here.