Drowning in Clutter? Observe the One-Minute Rule.

2011 Happiness Challenge: For those of you following the 2011 Happiness Project Challenge, to make 2011 a happier year — and even if you haven’t officially signed up for the challenge — welcome! This month’s theme is Time. Last week’s resolution was to Suffer…for fifteen minutes. Did you try that resolution? Did it boost your happiness?

This week’s resolution is to Observe the one-minute rule.


If you want to read more about this resolution, check out…
10 tips to beat clutter…in less than 5 minutes.
Try the one-minute rule.
A secret to happiness? Don’t get organized.
11 myths of de-cluttering.

Do you follow anything like the one-minute rule, to help yourself from getting overwhelmed by clutter, disorganization, and small nagging tasks? What works for you?

If you’re new, here’s information on the 2011 Happiness Challenge. It’s never too late to start! You’re not behind, jump in right now, sign up here. For the Challenge, each week I’ll post a video suggesting a resolution for you to consider. For more ideas for resolutions to try, check out the archives of videos here.

I always laugh out loud when I visit How Not to Act Old.

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— On the GretchenRubin channel page, after you subscribe, click “Edit Subscription” and check the box, “Email me for new uploads.” Or…
— Go to your main drop-down box, click “Subscriptions,” find the GretchenRubin channel, click “Edit Subscriptions,” and check “Email me for new uploads” there.

To get the audio podcast of the video:
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  • Christina Seigel

    Great points, Gretchen!  So funny–last night, I cleared out our closet under the stairs, aka “The Harry Potter closet.”  Hubby thought I was nuts, because we never use it, but it was just driving me crazy.  It took about 20 minutes, but I feel so much better now.

  • I call this “do it while you’re thinking about it.” I never put off those little things because eventually they all meld together into one big thing!

  • Great quote at the end! I find that, for me, living in a small place keeps me from accumulating too much stuff that might eventually become pure clutter.

    I can’t get the happiness-challenge.com  site to load. Is that a valid URL?


  • cc

    the one minute rule totally works for me! i love it! great idea

  • I can sure see how that would work!   I just came home for lunch and there on the counter was a half eaten pie my son left out.   At first I was going to leave it there for him to put away.   But then I thought of your sage advice…one minute.   Hmmm..so I took care of the problem myself….and ate it!

  • Chickadee

    The video should have been only 1 minute!  Practice what you preach!  LOL

  • Liane

    I started following the “Getting Things Done” system and it has a very similar rule. My life has been totally changed at work and in other areas. My desk used to be a huge mess – now, no more.  Keeping things tidy really does help me feel more calm and happy, especially when I have turmoil elsewhere.

  • I love today’s thought!  What a great golden rule for the home.  I think I am going to try teaching my kids that too. 

  • I try to follow this rule!  Indeed, I blogged about it (and gave you credit): http://www.bettermentblog.com/2011/03/01/start-using-the-one-minute-rule-to-get-more-organized-immediately/

    (Also, I just bought two [more] copies of your book to give as gifts to teachers!)

  • Hi Gretcheh, I read last week ” suffer for 15 min” and started it and now  i have to try this too. Thanks for this great blog.

  • TracieClaiborne

    That quote by William Morris is one of my all-time favorites! My friends often think of me as organized and having a clean house but I try to point out that one reason my house is easy to keep clean is because I have a lack of clutter. I don’t have a lot of knick-knacks or things sitting in the floor, etc. I think if people could get rid of about half of their “stuff” – they would feel more peaceful. I love your “Outer order contributes to inner calm.” saying. I have been sharing that with people lately a lot! I feel validated when you say that because it is hard for me to feel peaceful if my house is a wreck!

  • chellie

    Gretchen, these ideas have been so helpful.
    Finding A Place and Putting It Away have made our house so much nicer. Things don’t pile up, so there’s never any major cleaning up to do.
    I spent a bunch of money on exactly the right storage thingies for my closets (that replaced the collapsing ones that didn’t really fit & I didn’t really use but boy were they cheap!) They are so attractive & sturdy that I want to keep the towels & sweatshirts folded (plus I have exactly so much space, so if something new goes in, something else has to go out).
    Do It Now has helped a little with my (chronic) procrastination. It’s better if some of the Its are fun. I Did it Now with the bills (relief).
    I also Did it Now and made an iPod playlist for running. In doing that I observed the rule to Be Me & only put music on that I like, instead of music that I think I should like. Running was so much more fun!

  • perfectly expressed once again Gretchen!

  • Felicity

    Brilliant! I have been doing this and it makes such a difference I can hardly believe it!

    p.s. love your top
    p.p.s. also love the William Morris quote. Good one!

  • Hiri28

    This is great advice, cause I am the biggest procrastinator, and have convinced myself that  I work better under pressure.  The one minute rule is a helpful tip, now can I apply it is the question.

  • Daisy

    About four times a month we have a ritual called “The 10 Minute Tidy.”  (Me, the mom, calls out at random “TEN MINUTE TIDY!!”) All family members pitch in to do *something* for the good of the entire household.  ( I often give orders, but not always.) No complaints because everybody is doing it and it’s just for ten minutes.  It’s amazing how much gets done and how great  the place looks with so little time and effort!

  • Super tip! I’ve been trying to stick to this rule, even before I heard of it, for a few days now and it seems to work. I do extend the one minute to 5 or ten (just enough to get the dishes done…)

  • TP

    She’s hot…

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