If you’re anything like me, you have a few little piles dotted around the house. Cups on benches. Clothes on the floor. Mail on the countertops. These little piles eventually add up, till the house feels like a mess. If you constantly feel frazzled and stressed in your own home, have you ever stopped to think that maybe there’s a relationship between the state of your house and your own mental state?
I believe the answer is most definitely yes, and at last I have a quick and easy solution: the one minute rule. It’s not new by any means – its creator, Gretchen Rubin, talks about it here back in 2006. But it’s so simple, I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of it myself. Sticking to it has made my house clutter-free and dealt with the problem I mentioned in 10 ways to keep your home tidy, where I said how I had a bad habit of not dealing with little things that could take less than a minute to put away.
The rule works like this: if you’re looking at something which would take less than a minute to deal with, do it now.
Get home from work, and put your handbag away- under a minute.
Take your shoes off and put them in the wardrobe – under a minute.
Skin through the mail and discard / put in paper filing system – under a minute.
Make a hot drink and put the supplies away – under a minute.
Now instead of your kitchen bench looking like a dumping ground within minutes of getting home, it stays clean and tidy.
You can even say the words to yourself. Instead of thinking, “I’ll do that later,” make yourself think, “This will take less than a minute.” Who doesn’t have a minute?
And that’s another important aspect of the one minute rule: it has an incredible flow-on effect.
If you run the dishwasher every night (less than a minute to turn on), and empty it either that night or in the morning (again not long to do but also a perfect chore for children, so long as they can safely reach cupboards), then every time you finish with a dish, it can go straight into the dishwasher – again in under a minute. Then when you want to start cooking your evening meal, you’re not spending the first 15 minutes getting the kitchen to the point where you have space for food prep.
As well, the beauty of the one minute rule is it stops what I call crap-magnets from even forming. Remember those? It’s when you start off with just one thing out of place, then it seems to pull in another, and another. It’s as though once you’ve indicated it’s okay to put not put things away, it’s easier to not put the next thing away. And that doesn’t just go for you – it goes for other members of the family as well. If you put your dirty plate in the dishwasher, your husband is more likely to follow your lead. Leave it on the bench, he leaves it on the bench (this is based on a totally unscientific observation of how it works in our family). So by following the one-minute rule, even if it’s just you doing so, you can lead by example to other members of the family – which we know is much better than having to ask them.
Warning: I like to keep the one-minute rule organic. To me, that means making it a natural part of what you are doing- the next step that you often feel like you can’t take, for whatever reason. In the beginning, focus on this. Otherwise, you might push yourself by trying to tackle a bunch of extras when added up take a lot longer than a minute and could be best sorted at a later time. I’m thinking here phone calls and emails as one example, which are often better batched up than spread out.
But wait- there’s more
And as another tip, to make the one-minute rule even easier to follow, purchase some matching baskets. Have one for each child in the house, and one for the master bedroom. Keep them in your main living area. When your kids come home from school and unpack their bags they can put the things that need to go into their rooms into the basket. Likewise, at the end of the night they can put toys or other items into them. You can time them: one minute to put their things away into the basket and then five minutes to put them away in their room. You can also use their baskets to put in their clothes after you have folded them, and they can put them away. Also. if you have a multi-story house, it’s a great idea to do what Lindsay from Crazy Organized does (see here) and keep one at the base of the stairs to save having to walk up and down them all the time.
And finally, if your house has also gone beyond what one minute here and there could solve then read 10 ways to keep your home tidy. This will help you pull back control to the point where the one-minute rule will keep you sorted.
As I said above, it’s amazing what a psychological difference it makes to follow the one-minute rule. Gretchen Rubin says it herself in a later video about the rule: outer order contributes to inner calm. Having a clean and tidy house makes you feel more on top of life.
Have you tried the one-minute rule? Let me know how you got on in the comments!