Developer Jakub Stastny had a problem with organising his day for ages. Never-ending TODO lists led to frustration and consequently to procrastination; exhaustion from context switching; the feeling that he wasn’t accomplishing anything. A few weeks ago he had a breakthrough, and he calls it the 3 + 2 rule.
Frustration From Never Ending Task Lists
Nowadays everyone is overwhelmed with seemingly endless task lists. You wake up at the morning, start working, you work and work and at the end of the day you realise that you have no idea what you have done. You know you’ve been working, but it feels like you have achieved nothing. So very frustrating!
With never ending task lists you tend to procrastinate. Why bother when you can’t see the progress? Why bother why you will be working the whole day anyway? You need to see what have you achieved today and there has to be light on the end of the tunnel, you need to know that you’ll have time for yourself as well. Sounds familiar? I’ve been struggling with this for years.
The 3 + 2 Rule
At the morning you think you can do a, b, c, d, e. But then something goes wrong with b and you spend much more time on it than you anticipated. Subsequently you can’t finish c and d and you feel like you haven’t done enough. Let it be. Instead of having unrealistic expectations, just acknowledge that you can do only 3 big things and 2 small things. Do them and call it a day!
So then I’m happy that I finished my 3 + 2 tasks rather than being unhappy that I couldn’t finish seven of them. Easy. I use index cards for it. Every morning I sit down and write three main things I want to solve and two small ones. The main items should take from 2-3 hours, the minor ones no more than 20 minutes. And the results?
- I accomplish more because I don’t procrastinate as far as much as I used to.
- I’m much more focused on whatever I do.
- Context switching is ridiculously easy because this way you don’t switch just very few times per day!
- The 3 + 2 rule prevents burn-outs.
- Work life vs personal life balance.
Context Switching Solved
Dealing with context switching was always a real hassle for me. I’ve been switching backward and forward and the result was complete lack of focus and not achieving much in either of these projects. Or sometimes I haven’t been switching for a longer time and then I completely loose track about the project and it took me hours to get on the track again.
The 3 + 2 rule is all about focus. You don’t have to worry about all your task list, you just have to deal with five things. You work on the first task, you are fully focused and you don’t worry about other tasks. You don’t have to worry what else did I forget in project X, because project X isn’t on your index card for today. So you finish the task, then you switch. With 5 tasks, you can’t switch more than four times.
Sounds good? Well, that was just the beginning… considering how easy is to switch between (small number of) projects, just do switch! If every day you have two big tasks from your contract, 1 big task from your start-up, then you won’t loose track on any of these projects and you will distribute your time efficiently.
Being able to achieve more and yet enjoy my personal life is making me very happy. I hope it will work for you too! Please do let me know what do you think, I’d really appreciate any feedback, I’d especially like to know if you have the problems I used to have and in case you decided to give the 3 + 2 rule a go, then what’s your opinion or problems you encountered.
The 3 + 2 Rule [101 Ideas]