Video: Want To Keep Clutter under Control? Follow the “One-Minute Rule.”

2010 Happiness Challenge: For those of you following the 2010 Happiness Project Challenge, to make 2010 a happier year – and even if you haven’t officially signed up for the challenge — this month’s theme is Order. Last week’s resolution was Don’t get organized. Did you try to follow that resolution? Did it help to boost your happiness?

This week’s resolution is to Follow the one-minute rule. This rule holds that if I can do a task in less than a minute, I should go ahead and do it — no procrastinating. Scan a letter and toss it, put a dish in the sink, hang up my coat, etc. Following this rule means that, to a large extent, the scum of clutter in my life is under control, and for me, as for most people, outer order contributes to inner calm.

If you want to read more about this resolution, check out…
Need a simple and effective way to get your life under control? Try the “one-minute rule.”
Why clearing clutter isn’t as frivolous an occupation as it seems.
Personal productivity: 9 helpful yet REALISTIC tips.

If you’re new, here’s information on the 2010 Happiness Challenge (or watch the intro video). It’s never too late to start! You’re not behind, jump in right now, sign up here. For more ideas, check out the Happiness Project site on Woman’s Day.

NOTE: I was thrilled to be invited to join the YouTube Partners Program, which means that I get to customize the page for my YouTube Channel. I haven’t managed to do this yet, but stay tuned (excuse the pun). I hope to make it more inviting and rich. While you’re watching the weekly video, please subscribe to my channel!

* Speaking of new features, I’m also thrilled because now, when you post something in your Happiness Project Toolbox, you can check a box so your entry also appears on Facebook. Yay! For example, if you post a quotation on your Inspiration Board, for example, it will appear on Facebook, if you choose.

If you haven’t looked at the Happiness Project Toolbox, check it out. There are eight free tools to help you create and track your own happiness project.

Other posts you might be interested in . . .

  • Love the one minute rule! I’ve been following it ever

  • Love the one minute rule! I’ve been following it ever since I read about it on your site and it REALLY works. Anyone and everyone should do this!

    • gretchenrubin

      Great! So pleased to hear that it has proved useful to you.

  • Hi Gretchen, thanks for this, it has acted as a big reminder. I have read about this before, but reading and doing are two different things! I have just discovered your site, so I look forward to looking at some of the other stuff.

  • Joan

    I follow this rule when I am not already late for something. Unfortunately, I am usually running late most of the time. So when I can follow this rule, it gives me a good feeling, along with making my bed!

  • LivewithFlair

    Awesome! Another thing to remember is that if you do one simple thing you don’t want to do everyday, you tame the part of the brain that demands its own way. You increase your happiness by emptying the dishwasher or making the bed. Early in the flair project, it was a post about “Doing the Thing You Don’t Want to Do.”

  • sunshine

    I was also struck by the wisdom of this rule when I read it on the blog at some point. I use it every day!!

    I do practice one caveat. I do my best work in chunks of focused time, so I try to reserve a few hours of no interruptions time in my home office every day, usually first thing in the morning. During those hours, I’ll put off anything unrelated to work. I know I am doing my best when coffee cups pile up, phone calls go unanswered, and emails go unread! I am distractible and it is hard for me to find flow, so I have to be fairly rigid about this or putting my coffee cup in the sink becomes doing the dishes, etc. When “office hours” are done, I return to the one-minute rule approach and it really does help me get through the day without leaving a swirl of chaos behind me.

  • This video is a beautiful coincidence to me–I just printed out my first resolutions chart, on which I’m adding about one resolution each month.

    My resolution for June is to follow the one-minute rule! So thanks for this extra vote of encouragement. It does make such a difference in an easy way.


  • This has been one of my most life-changing (in a small way ;] ) things since I first started reading the Happiness Project book. I find myself looking around and reminding myself to do the things that take less than a minute…now I have a much cleaner room and car—which really does make me happier. I even sleep better with a clean room. Thank you thank you!

  • Ever since I’ve read the Happiness Project I have followed this rule. And I can tell you it has made my life so much better and made me put tasks into perspective. I used to feel it was a long time, but I committed for a month and now it’s so great. My girlfriend is so much happy!

    Here’s what I’ve been able to do under a minute:
    Wash 3 Dishes.
    Throw dirty laundry and wash it.
    Swiffer the Hardwood Floor in my kitchen.
    Fold My Bed Sheets.
    Clean the Sink.

    The One minute rule worked for me, and I would honestly ask people to try! And not just try….COMMIT TO IT!

  • Annelie

    Hi! My name is Annelie and I live in Stockholm, Sweden. I’ve read your blog for more than a year, and I bought your book when it came out. So far I’ve never heard anyone mention you in Sweden, but this morning I was surprised to see your face in my morning paper! You were interviewed by the second largest news paper in Sweden on your book and on your happiness approach. Here’s a link:

    • gretchenrubin

      Thanks for letting me know! Terrific. My father’s family is originally from
      Sweden, so that is especially fun for me.

  • So helpful. Especially the “one minute” part. Short and simple, easy to remember, great cognitive and behavioral tool. My kind of advice – thanks! I will be doing a future post where I link to this post. I’ll let you know when I do.

  • penelopeloveslists

    Here here! If you can do it, just do it – now. Don’t wait til later because later is always so much harder.

    Love these short, useful videos, Gretchen.

  • pamwalter

    Great advice! Just keeping up with things instead of letting them pile up is a big step.

  • Anne S

    I have been reading your posts for several years now and have found it helpful and inspiring. One thing I miss is/are your book recommendations. What are you reading and do you like it? I read everything from P.G.Wodehouse and classic age whodunits[my antidote to anxiety] to current fiction and big biographies and Trollope and cookbooks and I love to hear what others are reading, especially when they are reading other than what’s currently hot! You have suggested many good things to read in the past [Michael Frayn] and I miss that. Perhaps it’s off the point, but I thought I’d mention it anyway.

    • gretchenrubin

      Gosh, okay! I LOVE to talk about what I’m reading and the books that I love.

      I feel like I do that all the time…maybe because I also talk about books
      on Twitter and on the Facebook Page, (especially if they aren’t on the topic
      of happiness, so doesn’t seem appropriate to mention them here), I’m talking
      about them on the blog less than I thought.

      I will try to do more here, or also you can:
      Follow me on Twitter @gretchenrubin
      Join the Facebook Page:

      I’m thrilled to hear that you’ve enjoyed the recommendations. Here’s one: I
      Elizabeth von Arnim. So wonderful, so well-written, so happy. Run, don’t

  • Abby

    Great rule! Author/Acress Marilu Henner also taught me to never leave a room empty handed.

    In one minute, I threw the comforter on the bed and carried the dirty clothes to the laundry room. TaDa!

  • I read (and loved) your book. I just watched your 1 min. rule and although it took about 20 “1 minute tasks” , I cleared my desk of clutter.

    Thank you for freeing me from the need to get organized when I clear clutter. I’m finding your methods more helpful than any other I’ve tried or read about.

    • gretchenrubin

      Terrific! I’m so glad it was useful!

  • stuffofmyattention

    hi Gretchen,
    this rule has been calming and organising my life on and of for the last couple of years. I notice, subtly that I more frequently get short tasks done- put things away, pay a bill, wash a dish, wash some clothes etc etc. the cumulated effect is calming. so helpful- thank you.