top of page

The 2-Minute Rule and How It Can ACTUALLY Help You Build New Habits

I just finished reading Atomic Habits for the second time, and I was reminded of one of my favorite pieces of advice in the book.

It briefly talks about something called the 2-Minute Rule.

I was initially intrigued by this method because it only would take me two minutes. While I didn’t feel like I had hours to dedicate to building new habits, I definitely had two minutes.

So, I gave it a shot.

It ended up being the key I was missing to transforming my habits (and, by extension, my life).

I thought I’d share more about the 2-minute rule in detail so you can start trying it out for yourself.

If you’ve been trying to build new healthy habits but you just can’t seem to make them stick, this is for you.

What is the 2-minute rule?

The 2-minute rule states that when you start a new habit, it should take you less than two minutes to do. Seems pretty simple right?

That’s the point!

One of the biggest obstacles we run into when starting to build new habits is overwhelm.

We tell ourselves we want to read a book in one week before ever starting to build the habit of reading.

We tell ourselves we want to run a marathon before ever starting to build the habit of running.

We have a tendency to launch into lofty goals before building the necessary foundation for success.

In this case, the foundation you need is a great habit.

In Atomic Habits, the author mentions that nearly any habit you want to achieve can be scaled down into a two-minute version.

Hence, the 2-minute rule.

My experience with the 2-minute rule.

I started trying out the 2-minute rule after reading Atomic Habits for the first time.

My goal at the time was to start reading more often.

I went out and got a new book and dedicated myself to reading one page every morning.

So I didn’t forget to read my one page, I set an alarm on my phone for 7 AM to let me know it was time to read.

At first, reading only one page felt a bit ridiculous, but I thought I’d just trust the process.

Within one week, I no longer needed the alarm.

Within two weeks, I was reading two pages instead of one.

Within a month, I had finished the book.

This was my first experience with the 2-minute rule, and it was a pretty positive one.

I initially thought that it felt silly to do something so seemingly meaningless. What’s the point of reading one page when I know I could keep going for more?

What I realize now is that if I were to read for as long as I could every morning, even if that was just a chapter, I wouldn’t always commit to the habit.

If I were to wake up an hour later than usual, I’d tell myself I don’t have time to read today.

Missing a day of reading, even if it was only one page, made me lose sight of the habit.

I found that when I missed a day of reading, I was more likely to miss two days, then three, etc.

Ultimately, this always led to me never being able to stick to my habits.

That’s what made me realize how powerful two minutes can be.

We never doubt if we have two minutes. And that’s why this works so well.

Once we get into the habit of doing something for two minutes a day, it becomes way easier to scale it higher.

How can you start to use it?

Now that you know how it worked for me, maybe you’re considering using it yourself!

To start, identify the habit you want to build.

For this example, let’s say you want to start running every day.

Even if you think you can run a mile every day, you don’t want to start there if you’ve never built a habit like this before.

You’ll want to scale it down to something that can be completed in under two minutes.

From there, you can start to build towards the larger goal.

Instead of saying, “I will run a mile every morning.”

Say, “I will put on my shoes every morning.”

“I will turn on the treadmill.”

“I will walk for 2 minutes.”

“I will job for 2 minutes.”

“I will run for 2 minutes.”

You get the idea.

Start small and build the habit step by step.

I personally found it helpful to write down the steps I take when performing a habit.

When I started trying to take better care of my skin, I wrote out the steps of my skincare routine so I knew what I was going to be doing.

Then, I slowly added each step to the routine until it was a solid habit.

Starting with washing my face.

Then putting on moisturizer.

Etc, etc, etc!

Here are some other examples to get you started:

  • Read a book —> Read one page

  • Do my laundry —> Fold one shirt

  • Study for a test —> Open your notes

  • Journal daily —> Set a timer and journal for one minute

  • Take care of your skin —> Wash your face

  • Wake up earlier —> Set an alarm

I hope that this gives you some ideas on how you can start using the 2-minute rule in your own life today.

It really made a difference when I was trying to build new habits, and it’s something I always keep in mind when looking to start something new.

bottom of page