Improve your life in sixty seconds? I know, that seems unrealistic, but the one-minute rule is really just a tweak to your mindset when it comes to doing things that you would normally put off. You start off by asking yourself, “Can I do this in one minute?” and then tackle the task.
Yes, I procrastinate and sometimes I don’t even realize that I’m doing it. For example, I saw that the stovetop needed to be wiped down after cooking dinner. Instead of grabbing a sponge and cleaning the stain in twenty seconds, I thought, “I really need to clean the kitchen.”
Well, of course, the idea of cleaning the entire kitchen was much too overwhelming and so the stovetop didn’t get cleaned. You may be thinking that that’s crazy thinking, but chances are you excuse yourself from a variety of tasks throughout your day.
Right now you could probably list five things that you are procrastinating doing (I know, the list is more than five tasks … if you want, start making that list once you read this article). Ask yourself, how much time do those tasks take? I put off calling the doctor for a physical for eighteen months. The phone call took maybe three minutes. Sure, I had my reasons for dragging my feet, but making the phone call was the hurdle I had to get over to make the appointment.
Get the Task Done
I first read about David Allen’s two-minute rule in his book, Getting Things Done. His idea is that you increase your productivity by doing small tasks right away instead of putting them off until later. Gretchen Rubin, on her Happiness Project blog cut this down to a one-minute rule.
If you are thinking that one or two minutes isn’t enough time to get things done think again. You can’t clean your kitchen in one minute, but you can wipe down the counters when you notice they are dirty. You can’t organize your closet in one minute, but you can hang up your jacket instead of draping it over the back of the couch when you walk in the house.
Over time, these small tasks add up. Productivity expert, David Allen’s point is that if you handle a task or even make a note that you need to do something your brain will stop dwelling on the task, wasting a lot of mental energy.
Follow the One-Minute Rule
The one-minute rule isn’t about tackling big tasks with short bursts of organizing and cleaning. Instead it is about doing tasks that would take no more than sixty seconds and handling them when you notice they need to get done. (One minute is just an estimate, really more of a mental attitude than the physical passage of time.)
The funny thing is, when you tackle these tiny tasks when they come up, you don’t feel as if your to-do list is quite so long. I can toss mail in a recycling bin in just a bit more time than it takes to set it in a pile on the edge of the table. And, chances are, that the pile of junk mail will make me feel disorganized instead of proactive.
Yes, it does take time to get used to following the one-minute (or two-minute) rule; it is all too easy to tell yourself, “I’ll do it later.” However, give it a try and you’ll probably find that you have less clutter and feel more organized and all it takes is a minute here and there throughout your day.