Wednesday, 31 August 2011

The One Minute Rule

I’ve been very busy lately. So much so that my house is reaching ‘bomb site’ status. While on my travels to the Edinburgh Festival I read a reader tip in a magazine (can’t remember which one, it was a ten hour bus journey with bonus roadside breakdown. Much reading was done!) about the one minute rule. The rule is simple – if a task takes no longer than one minute to complete you have to do it there and then. Hours to tidy my house I do not have, frustration at the state of it I have in abundance. When you are stressed all you need is order. If I could bring order out of chaos in a series on one minute slots then it would be worth a go. I decided to try the rule out as soon as I got home.

My first opportunity to test the rule came when I arrived back on Sunday evening from a long trip from Aberdeen a.k.a the time you least want to do anything, ever. Like most other sad geeks my bedside table resembles a returns trolley in a public library, piled up to overflowing and often with books I have failed to return to said library and am racking up a fine larger than the RRP on. After dumping my bag and collapsing on the bed into a travel induced comma I saw the pile of books and remembered my rule. It would take less than one minute to put them on the right bookshelf. I dragged myself up, sorted them onto the right shelves (I have a system of course, as all good geeks should) and felt very pleased with myself indeed.

The one minute rule also helps with gross tasks that inevitably get left for much longer than is safe or hygienic, like wiping out the bottom of the fridge or bin duty. It’s amazing what you can get done in under a minute. My bathroom shelves have been tidied. The washing is miraculously out of my suitcase, a job that would normally take days, if not weeks, being the slovenly beast that I am. All this and I haven’t had to dedicate any real time to tidying or cleaning at all.

Once the obvious one minute tasks have been done you graduate to the heady heights of cupboard sorting and filing. Oh yes. Exciting times indeed. The only spanner in the works I can foresee is that some tasks, sadly, take more than one minute. It’s possible I may become a Guinness World Record speed mopper but realistically with the state of my under stair cupboard it takes at least a minute to wrestle the hoover from the grips of the ironing board let alone actually do any hoovering. One minute tasks also lead on to other one minute tasks and you have to be extremely strong willed/lazy to resist continuing what you have started. Happily I fall into the latter category with ease.

Still I commend the one minute rule to you for the streamlining of your life and the greater dedication of you time to things you actually want to do. That’s got to be good.


  1. I like it. So much of life is overwhelming because we try to eat it all at once - bite by bite accomplishes the same thing but feels a lot more achievable. Now to put it into practice..

  2. What a brilliant idea! How on earth did I get to my advanced age without thinking of it myself? Never too old to learn a new system....:-)

  3. Let me know how you both get on! I'm still going with it and enjoying relatively less chaos!

  4. So far so good, Nicola. It's not an overnight revolution, but is making a difference.