Doing a task which in not on the paycheck but supports the greater good. - Yes or No?

I am reading a lot of the 2-minute rule.
Which simply states, that if a task needs 2 minutes of your time. Just do it rather than putting it on the To-Do list. As an easier and less costly way of getting it done.

So I am wondering if this not only applies to personal tasks but also to team tasks? Just getting the 2-minute task when it pops up rather than finding someone who shall be the owner of this task.
Of course, there are constraints to be considered, like:

  • Do I know how to do the task?
  • Do I have access and also the permission to do the task?

But what if people just apply the rule for their team, regardless if this particular task is on their paycheck or the paycheck of a peer?

Recently I come across the attitude of ‘not on my paycheck’ quite a lot. And I am pondering around with some questions.
Does it really matter, if I know how to do it? If it is a tiny task but will help the team, the product, the user?

I am interested in opinions. What do you think about the 2-minute rule? Would you apply it or not and why?
Does anyone have experience with that?


In the past, I’ve often applied my version of the 2-minute rule to my own work. In one job, I triaged my workload so that I did the quick wins first, stopping work piling up on my desk and releasing time to do the more complex stuff at length. My line manager couldn’t get their head around the way that I started with a three-foot pile of case papers (we’re talking way before desktop PCs here) that was reduced to nothing in about an hour’s work.

When working in areas that involved contact with customers, there were times when I did stuff that wasn’t on my paycheck as far as I could, because the person on the other end of the phone probably didn’t know they were on to the wrong person. It depended on what I had access or authority to do, of course, but doing it got the best result for the caller. Quite often I got kudos for helpfulness even if I couldn’t see an issue through to completion, because I was able to do as much as possible for the caller and clients can usually tell the difference between actions that moved their case on - even if it was just advising them as to who they really needed to talk to and what to tell them - and someone just giving them the usual corporate BS.

And sometimes you do the 2-minute task that’s not particularly official for a colleague or a boss because it helps oil the wheels and keep the work community together. And this is the person who was once caught making a cardboard sword for my boss’s daughter’s school fancy dress party by the CEO. (His reaction was to quote the Duke of Wellington: “I don’t know what my officers do to the enemy - by God, they frighten me.”)


Hi Andrea

It can be a challenge - but there are some tricks to it :slight_smile:
Sometimes it can be best to “just do it” other times to procrastinate… I haven’t figured it out yet.
But recently I read this one about making it visible to the team. I can recommend it

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Hi Robert,

thanks for sharing.
I particularly love the episode about the cardboard sword. I think, those gestures are making the difference in the workplace.

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Hi Jesper,

thanks for the book recommendation. I will check it.
Visibility has certainly a point. And I am swaying between “don’t care just do it for the team/the product” and “shall I do it, if no one will bother”. Haven’t decided yet what path to follow or if I ever will. I may will leave that as a continuum where I decide based on the task or the situation what direction I will take.