Musings and Amusings

Two By Two

Dan put a name to it – Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon – while entertaining me with one of his literary adventures.

I just call it ‘a sign’. Those times when something appears at the exact – usually unexpected – moment to validate you are on the right track, nudge you to pay attention, or indicate you need to change direction. Or even to tell you your stars are aligned, if just for that instant.

I take creating titles for my posts seriously. The titles don’t have to be serious, but I want them to be enticing, imaginative, perhaps with a touch of whimsy. While it might be wasteful to spend much time creating titles – after all, it’s not as if readers are scrolling through a list of titles to choose their ‘reads’ – I get ‘juice’ from my titles, and they often help me organize my writing.

My daughter-in-law taught me her stress crutch – using a factor of Five to decide if what you are stressing about deserves the attention you are giving it.

Will it matter in 5 minutes, 5 hours, 5 days?

If not, let it go. It’s as simple as that.

It’s like letting the air out of an about-to-burst balloon.

Credit: Shutterstock

Credit: Shutterstock

I was recently berating myself for how much time I waste, and thinking about a tool I could apply to utilize my time more effectively  – without going all drill-sergeant on myself. Deciding I could extrapolate from DIL’s factor of Five concept, I came up with Two by Two: use time blocks of 2 minutes, 20 minutes and 2 hours. I thought Two by Two would work as a title, wondering where I had heard it before.

Was it a song? A movie?

Credit: Wikipedia

Credit: Wikipedia

Turns out it’s a 1970 Broadway musical, starring Danny Kaye, about Noah’s preparations for the Great Flood.

Bingo! It’s a sign!

If it was good enough for a Broadway musical, it’s good enough for me. Plus the Great Flood – a stressor that WOULD matter in five days – ties in nicely with DIL’s ‘does-this-particular-stress-need-my-attention’ segue into my Two by Two idea. Not to mention, those animals boarding the Ark two by two.

Hence I unveil my 2015 Two by Two plan for ‘re-purposing’ wasted time:

two minutes


If I have 2 minutes: empty half the dishwasher; vacuum one room; clean one toilet. Where is it written that housecleaning has to be a 2-4 hour slog? I hardly notice the effort when I use the 2-minute-drill.  DON’T ‘quickly’ check email or WordPress!

If I have 20 minutes: do some stretching; walk around the block; practice a tangle; read a chapter. DON’T ‘quickly’ check email or WordPress!

If I have 2 hours: practice keyboard; start an art project; practice writing craft. DON’T ‘quickly’ check email or WordPress!



If it’s 2am: sleep; dream; practice good health. DON’T ‘quickly’ check email or WordPress!

A snowball’s chance in hell, you say?

Comments on: "Two By Two" (41)

  1. What a great idea! I have used something similar to the factor of five approach and found it has helped reduced anxiety (and arguments!) by a significant amount 😉 I Like the 2 by 2 approach although I’ll be singing that all day lol! Let us know if sticks 😉

  2. Great post! Much can be accomplished in 2 minutes – by NOT checking mails etc ad nauseam! Two hours – a huge chunk of valuable time to be focused on doing and being what one loves…Thanks Sammy D!

  3. Great idea. I’m currently trying 15 minute timeslots because, to me, it doesn’t seem so long that I don’t want to get started, but in that 15 minutes I actually get loads done. Hope your approach works for you.

    • Eileen – that sounds like a good approach, too. It seems to be how we ‘frame’ it as our motivator, doesn’t it? The hardest for me is I’ve been staying up later and later, and that’s not good in so many ways. Thanks for your ideas!

  4. Thanks for the shout-out Sammy. This is a great idea. I don’t know if I could go two-by-two, but maybe 5’s or 3’s. I’m not sure I could do much in 2 minutes (besides checking email, WP or the status of a trivia game with my daughter) but the notion that I could split something up and stuff it into small slots is an interesting one. Certainly 20 minutes or two hours works, so maybe I need to get better at my two-minute drill. Keep us informed.

    • You’ll laugh, but my ‘2 minute’ comes from being annoyed that my Hub always takes longer ‘primping’ than I do before we go out. Since I am generally a tad anxious when we’re going out, waiting for him made it worse and I’d be in the kitchen silently fuming and tapping my foot. Now I put that anxiety and impatience to work. It doesn’t change my mood but at least some bill gets paid or dishes put away 😊

      Yes, I admit he is more ‘put together’ than I am when we go out the door!

  5. I can’t help but notice the repeated prohibition, boldly scripted, “DON’T ‘quickly’ check email or WordPress!” I suppose that slowly checking email and WP wouldn’t be an answer, then?

    I get those signs all the time – I just didn’t know there was a name for it. Which obliviously means that I didn’t read Dan’s original post (my bad). Looks like I could use a little 2 x 2 or a 4 x 4 or something myself!

    • Hi Mags – i’m always thinking ‘quickly’ when it’s computer-related and 3 hours later ….

      That’s a pretty fancy name for that phenomenon. I like having a ‘phenomenon’ more than I like having a ‘condition’ or ‘ affliction’.

  6. I thought I was randomly running around like a chicken with its head cut off. Turns out I’ve been using the 2 by 2 method for getting stuff done all along 🙂

    Good luck fighting the siren call of the computer. She’s an evil temptress! 😉

  7. I don’t think I can do much in two minutes. Thirty minutes is good. Thirty minutes of exercise, thirty minutes for a sit-com, thirty minutes of housekeeping, thirty minutes to make brownies, thirty minutes to shower and groom…

  8. cardamone5 said:

    Nice, Mom, but a little harsh with yourself. You have to allow time to be wasted. That’s where true genius comes in, when your mind isn’t fretting about chores, feeling guilty for choosing to check Word Press versus some other activity. Also, we would miss you. I get what you’re saying about being more efficient, and finding a way to clean to evokes less stress, but you may experience another kind of stress with your two by two rule. Just sayin’. But, that said, if it work for you, then go for it (as if you needed my blessing!)


    • Thank you E-bug 😊. i should allot ‘genius time’ – thanks fir pointing that out!!! I am a taskmaster on myself at times although I definietly have relaxed the ‘pj’s all day ‘ rule😊

  9. I’m buying a timer for FB alone — and no FB before I paint in the morning . . .
    I learned from my single mom of four how to make the most of minutes. When walking upstairs look for the things that need to go . . . Washing single dishes in the moment . . . wiping things down after use. It is an excellent way to live, saving time in th elong run insted of burning through those little increments. So 2x2x2 is a good thing!
    Stress is a common factor in all our lives. For us, it is about making a living in a poor economy as we head to retirement. That is a real stress. The “small stuff” does not stress me too much, but I can wake in the night worried sometimes. Creative work helps tremendously, even in the middle of the night!

    • Katie – your Mom was a wise woman; out of necessity! My DIL uses the “take it up when you go up’ to get kids to get stuff back to their upstairs rooms.

      Really, for me it’s all about not reaching for my little temptress IPad.

      You DO stay remarkably upbeat in the face of the challenges small business owners face.

  10. I love your idea. Think of what we could accomplish if we used all those short sound bytes of time wisely. But as you mention, that social media imp can definitely get in the way. He’s such an attention hog. Wants us focused on him 24/7!

  11. Always good ideas, Sammy D. Now I’ve been doing the 2 by 2 and didn’t think about it. But, I’m stuck in a time warp on WordPress! I can’t seem to get through all the email, like and comment in 2 minutes or 20 minutes or 2 hours! I’m in trouble! Christine

    • Exactly !!! Here I am back on it when I should be doing 20 minutes on …. Someting else 😍

      You astound me with your enjoyable posts for all your awards and bloghops ! They are all well-thought out and must take buckets of time, but much appreciated by me and others 💥💥

  12. Love this idea! I’ve been especially focusing on the two-minute tasks – dealing with little things that take no time at all, but that when neglected add up to something big. It’s a great strategy, when I remember to use it!

  13. Hah, yes, that last line says it all. Plan as I may, it never works for me. It is only out of exasperation and having put off thinks loooong enough that I finally pull myself away from the computer to do them. However, great idea — and I love great ideas. And great title, it sure grabbed my attention.

    • 😊. I will feel like I’ve succeeded if I can get back to my early to bed; early to rise instead of futzing around into the wee hours and having little to show for it except bags under my eyes!!!

  14. I was singing ‘The animals went in 2 by 2’ all the way down the post, Sammy, but I must insist you tell me which time sector you’re putting WP in? Must be the 2 hours plus 🙂 🙂

    • Ha Ha – those songs get stuck in our head when they come while reading 😊. I fear my WP ‘habit’ has taken on a life if its own, not bending to time or commitments. It’s all your fault. You and those hundred other enticing blogsites. If only I could burn calories looking at your walks 😍💖

  15. I like the factor of Five idea and the Two by Two. I do that a lot. It’s amazing what you can fit into the space of two minutes.

  16. Love this idea, Sammy. I think I do it, too, but must admit, I am frequently lured by the WP monster.

    Way to be purposeful.


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