The mother hauled her child to the school office, loudly complaining “It’s your fault we are late!” You might be thinking that she was chastising her child for morning daydreaming, lost library books or toothbrushing tantrums but you would be wrong.
The school I worked in was having all sorts of difficulty with students arriving late for class at the beginning of the day. Doors opened at 8.30am and class began at 8.40am but students just weren’t punctual.
Students were arriving in dribs and drabs right up until about 9 o’clock and for the teachers, this was very very annoying. A lot can happen in such seemingly small amounts of time and it’s hard to have to continually repeat all of that.
This mother and child had appeared at the classroom door at 8.42. They were told that it was past the school start time so they would need to go to the office for a late slip. The mother was not happy, AT ALL! In fact, she was bordering on having a tantrum about it.
Having to go to the office would mean that they were even later to class than if they had been let right in. Therefore, it was the school’s fault her child was late. After all, it was only 2 minutes!
Now, this might seem like a reasonable complaint. If the school day begins at 8.40am and you appear at 8.42am, you aren’t really late are you?
Actually, let’s think about this a little.
If 8.42 isn’t late and the child is let in to class, what about 8.44? It’s only 2 minutes after 8.42, so in this argument, a child arriving at 8.44 is also not late. It’s only 2 minutes. What about 8.46? Again, 2 minutes.
Where then do we draw the line? 9am? What about 9.02? It’s only 2 minutes!
You can see what a slippery slope this is can’t you?
Just like that parent, who would be able to make a case that they were only 2 minutes late regardless of their arrival time, it’s easy to justify the small things we allow to slip past our clutter defences.
It’s a bit like the boots we leave in the hallway because it’s only 1 pair of boots, which then become a shoe magnet, attracting everything from slippers to flippers to join them in their comfortable new home.
It’s like the paper we leave on the kitchen table, because it’s only 1 bit of paper, which attracts more pieces of paper until the end of the table becomes the unofficial paper repository of the house.
It’s like the children’s toys we didn’t spend a few minutes putting away when playtime was finished, which end up in every conceivable nook and cranny around the house.
When we overlook the small things, over time, they become big things.
So, how can we prevent this from happening?
By using the 2 minute rule!
Spend 2 minutes at the end of a task doing a quick tidy up, pack away and redistribution of items. You might be tired, and yes, you could make a case for doing it tomorrow, but I guarantee that those will be the most productive, beneficial 2 minutes you spend.
I challenge you this week not to put off those small tasks. Don’t give in to that slippery slope. Give it a go and see what happens. Just 2 minutes.
Just like in the classroom, a lot can happen in 2 minutes.
What will you spend your 2 minutes on?
Shoot me back an email and let me know what you spend that time doing.