Do you ever find yourself postponing small tasks throughout the day, and then feeling overwhelmed when they pile up? You are not alone. This one-minute rule might just be the thing you need to bring some order to your busy schedule.
Meta Description: Often, we put off doing everyday small tasks, shelving them to be completed at a later time, because they seem so tedious. But seemingly low-effort things such as responding to an email or putting away your clothes can snowball into a much bigger bunch of responsibilities, turning into a daunting prospect to deal with all at once. However, a simple habit can bring a huge change to this chaos and anxiety in your regular schedule—the one-minute rule. It’s simple enough—any task that can be completed in a minute or under, get it over with immediately.
Making to-do lists can be fun, but actually checking things off them? Not so much. With the hectic routine of our everyday life, there does not seem to be enough time to get it all done. In our bid to focus on the bigger tasks, we can often skip the smaller ones, pushing them back, telling ourselves we can do them later. But when these tiny tasks pile up, it can backfire, slowing down your productivity. Your solution to this could take you just a minute.
The one-minute rule is a concept born of the mind of Gretchen Rubin, author of books such as The Happiness Project. The principle of it is simple—if there is a task that can be done in a minute or under, do not put it off, get it done now. In a blog post, Rubin says that she recommends this “one-minute rule” to people when they ask her for happiness rules or tips, because it is very easy to implement. Be it answering that one email lurking in your inbox, putting away the laundry, or responding to your texts—making yourself complete these minute long tasks that feel tedious as soon as possible can go a long way towards decluttering your life.
Clutter can be both physical and mental, and it can have a significant effect on one’s well-being. Whether it is an untidy closet or a pending chore, disorganisation can affect your overall mental health. A study in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin showed that unfinished projects and clutter at home were associated with higher levels of stress, fatigue, and increased depressed mood. This toll on your mind and emotions can, in turn, affect your physical health.
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The one-minute rule can be helpful if you have the habit of procrastination when it comes to some specific things like household chores, or want to be better at managing your time. The longer you put something off, the more dreadful it seems to undertake, so getting over with it without letting it simmer can stop you from overcomplicating or overthinking things. Says Rubin, “Because the tasks are so quick, it isn’t too hard to make myself follow the rule—but it has big results. Keeping all those small, nagging tasks under control makes me more serene, less overwhelmed.” Not having to think about these smaller items on your list can actually increase your productivity, letting you focus on bigger tasks that require more energy in a more orderly fashion.
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It is important to be consistent with this rule and make it into a habit in order to see a long term effect on the quality of your life. The one-minute rule may not work for all of your tasks, and it may not be effective for everyone, but the simplicity of it makes it worth a try. Turning it into an easy, fun challenge for a week or a month could help you develop the habit. Just sixty seconds of your time now could mean one less thing to worry about in the future, so here’s to crossing things off your list and having your life under control like a pro.
I’ll go answer that email now. Right away.
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