Jim Zheng Posts About Now Photos

two day rule

This thought comes from two pieces. First, James Somer’s piece about Speed Matters: Why working is more important than it seems. “Quick” here means time to create something. He says lowering the barrier to entry is more important than you think. When in doubt, bias towards lowering barrier to entry than any other feature. Speed itself is a feature.

The second piece comes from James Clear’s “2 minute rule”. It’s another great turn of phrase that encourages building habits by starting small. What does “small” mean? Anything less than 2 minutes. And since it’s so small, you commit to doing anything if it takes less than 2 minutes. Even if it feels like a distraction and you can’t bother.

Merging these ideas together, we have: commit to doing something if it takes you a “small” amount of time, and build momentum by lowering the barrier to lots of these activities.

Put another way, if you want to start a habit:

  1. Define “small”
  2. Build or do things to lower the barrier to “doing”
  3. Commit to “doing” “small” things

What’s a good example of this? This blog here. I’m one of those self-editing writers. It takes me so long to write a single 1000 page essay. I go into tangents, adjust fonts. I am easily distracted.

So I changed it up. I defined “small” as less than 1 hour to write. I created a couple of command line tools that saved me a few keystrokes and created a new post.

This type of thinking is especially valuable for creative disciplines. Engineering is one such discipline. So I’d like to create a “2-day rule”. The rules are as follows:

  1. For any idea that you’re curious about, spend 2 days on the idea. After that, memorize and discard.

This allows you to build up momentum. If it’s too big to do in 2 days, it’s not an idea, it’s a vision. Brendan Eich conceived of and created a prototype for javascript within 10 days. If it turns out it’s too hard to execute within two days, great. You know it’s challenging. Build tools to lower the barrier, for yourself and for others.

Why 2 days? 2 days is a weekend, and it takes 1 day getting the idea right.


Discuss on Twitter