I’m sitting on my couch reading a fiction book a friend of mine gave me when I look over at my plant and realize… it’s time to water it. I figure, well, ok, when I get up for a glass of water, or maybe just after I finish this chapter, or just later, or maybe tomorrow. After I read a little longer, I look back up – again, I remember the plant, and that it needs water right about now – today or tomorrow. So I tell myself I’ll water it for sure if not tonight then tomorrow. Then I get up to get something from the kitchen, and when I come back, I realize the plant is right there.

Finally, and only after reminding myself that “doing something can be easier than not doing!,” do I go into the kitchen, get some water and water the plant, and the one in the next room too.

When you recognize that something needs to be done, and then you put off doing it, you start to occupy the brain with an extra thought. Yes, you can write it down, and then you occupy the brain less. (You’ll only occupy the brain when you return to the list and see “water the plant” on it and then schedule that activity into your day.) But think about it! How long does it take to water the plant? How long does it take to write down “water the plant” and then schedule the time when you’ll do it? EXACTLY!!! :)

This is one of David Allen‘s biggest points: you want to get organized so that your brain has more free time! Less stress on the brain, less minute things to remember and to juggle.

This is like Dave Seah says in describing his father visiting him: “If you clean up after yourself constantly, you will have a clean house! When he walks around the house, he automatically sees things that need to be arranged better or cleaned.”

Maybe it’s starting to sound pretty appealing to just do something at the moment you think of doing it? Maybe it’s starting to sound like an easier way to live? …But what if you start an action (like going through your mail for example) and it turns into too big a project, and then you get behind on your other obligations? That’s a valid concern. David Allen suggests that if something is going to take two minutes – that’s right, two minutes – then do it now. If more, then write it down and plan it.

And the biggest reason to do things rather than putting them off? You can reduce stress on yourself. Trying to remember is occupying your brain. Trying to remember too much may be stressing your brain. In the latest Forbes issue is the article Stress Can Shrink Your Brain. There’s been research on rats that stress physically shrinks parts of the brain. So give your brain a break – don’t burden it with unnecessary stress! Do something rather than remember another ‘todo’ item.


  1. Posted Wednesday August 16, 2006 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    I love the two minute rule. Still working on Dad’s ability to see household chores…I just looked around and saw like 50 of them, and then looked away again quickly :-) Thanks for the link!

  2. Posted Tuesday August 22, 2006 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

    I too like the two minute rule. I tend to gather clutter because I multi task like crazy. I’m going to try the two minute rule and see what happens, and maybe I won’t be buried.

  3. Posted Wednesday August 23, 2006 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    Agreed! I feel the same way, Elona. That’s why I went with it. It’s like the better part of yourself talking to yourself, “Hey, Senia, do this. It’ll make your mind feel so much clearer.”

  4. Dana
    Posted Wednesday January 10, 2007 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    I love this thought, just what I needed to see today. And rather than postponing replying, I thought i would tell you right now what i thought! see, i’m already practicing! :) much love.

  5. Posted Wednesday January 10, 2007 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Dana, thank you, that’s awesome! Love it. So cool of you!

3 Trackbacks

  1. By senia.com » How to Diminish Effects of Stress on the Brain on Wednesday August 16, 2006 at 12:21 am

    […] Given this article Stress Can Shrink Your Brain that we talked about here, if stress may damage the brain, then how can people diminish the effects of stress on their brains? […]

  2. By senia.com » Life Moves Forward on Monday September 11, 2006 at 12:52 am

    […] So I create a shortcut for myself – no reading new mail unless I can answer it. (And gee-whiz, I’m not perfect at this!… but I aim strongly for this… immediate answers when I read the email.) Because doing can be easier than not doing. […]

  3. By senia.com » SENIA.COM Summary - August, 2006 on Wednesday November 22, 2006 at 2:07 am

    […] Doing Can Be Easier Than Not Doing – get something done (like watering your plants) when you think of it rather than wasting brain space by remembering to do it later. How to Diminish Effects of Stress on the Brain – mainly, the answer is exercise (and sleep, diet, and physical activity). Change One Habit at a Time – focus on one habit with examples from rock climbing. Quantum Speech – jardon is key to understanding a field or industry. […]