Two By Two Tasking Model

Posted Monday, November 7, 2022 by Sri.Tagged TROPE
EDIT STATUS:new

NOTE: This is not the same as Stephen Covey's Time Management 2x2 Matrix, which is a prioritization scheme.

This is an alternative model to two slot+aux, using specific triggers modeled on interactive fiction of the 1970s. In these games, the text parser was limited to only ACTION NOUN-style in the present tense and provide an immediate response. Because the actions and nouns are very limited and immediate, this is a great model for how to engage my particular type of executive dysfunction:

  • imagines big results in complicated use cases
  • is impatient and wants the results immediately
  • intelligent enough to know, in detail, the difficulty and challenges to be solved
  • loses motivation over time when results are not felt immediately when operating solo
  • enthusiasm is dampened by lack of "big progress" despite knowledge of the task difficulty
  • end result: does not start projects

To overcome this, Two By Two consists of coming up with two minute tasks that are described by just two words consisting of an action followed by a noun (can be a noun-phrase). The task must be concrete, immediate, and completable within two minutes.

For example:

  • FIND "tax return"
  • MAKE "file named travel.txt"
  • WRITE "sentence in journal"

While these tasks may appear to be vanishingly small and extremely limited in scope, they have several advantages:

  • They are all the beginning of a task chain. For me, just looking at something is enough to start. It's more important to GET OVER THE HURDLE OF NOT EVEN WANTING TO START.
  • They are all small enough to not feel like a time+uncertainty trap, which is an extremely demotivating state of mind even if I know it's part of the work. It's particularly debilitating when I am working solo.
  • To make them extra palatable, I only assign three of them every day for my work list, telling myself that if I spend the two minutes I'm done with them for the day and can do something else (similar to 15-minute minimum blocks. Usually, I just keep going for at least 30-90 minutes, and they often spawn additional tasks.
  • Because they are completable, this gives me a sense of accomplishment that I wouldn't have making partial progress on something larger.

Appendix: Interactive Fiction Example

I'm not sure which was the first I played in 1979 or so on the TRS-80 in our school's computer lab, but here's a playable version of Scott Adam's Adventureland, which I do remember seeing around that time)

*** WELCOME TO SRI'S ADVENTURE # 1 ***

You are in a sunny meadow. The sky is blue.
Birds are singing. Bunnies hop by your feet.
You are carrying a bag.

> LOOK BAG

The bag contains a bar of chocolate.

> INVENT COLD FUSION

I don't understand what you mean. Try again.

> EAT BAR

You eat the chocolate bar. You feel stronger!
You pick up CANDY WRAPPER

> EXAMINE MAP

I don't understand what you mean. Try again.

> LOOK

You are in a sunny meadow. There are paths leading
NORTH and EAST.

> GO NORTH