Over 50s Lifestyle

How the ‘1-minute’ rule can overcome the overwhelm & save you TIME

March 15, 2023

My WOTY is ‘TIME– using my time wisely to make the most of every day of my life. Now that is a noble goal and one I’m sure many of you would find important – using your time wisely, but, life isn’t straight forward and who doesn’t prefer a little curve in the road to bring surprise into our lives?

I am a fairly organized person. I love my diary and am old school in that I use a physical diary rather than my smartphone. I use the diary to record everything – appointments, ‘to do’ lists, notes and ideas. I’m a list girl from way back and enjoy the feeling of accomplishment when I tick items off my ‘to do’ list.

But what happens when procrastination starts to creep in and there are less ticks on the ‘to do’ list?

I recently read an article about the ‘1-minute’ rule and as a minute is a measure of TIME, it was worth reading as it fit well into my WOTY focus.

What is the ‘1-minute’ rule?

You may already know but I found it a neat ‘hack’ to ensure that my ‘to do’ list is running along nicely with completion ticks and isn’t becoming overwhelming as my list grows longer. It is also something that you can apply to many areas of your life – not just the ‘to do ‘ list.

Gretchen Ruben, author and happiness expert, came up with this very easy idea:

It’s very simple: I must do any task that can be finished in one minute. Hang up my coat, read a letter and toss it, fill in a form, answer an email, note down a citation, pick up my phone messages, file a paper, put a dish in the dishwasher, replenish the diaper supply by the changing table, put the magazines away…and so on.

Gretchen Reuben

Basically, If a task will take you a minute or less to complete, do it as soon as you realize it needs to be done. Remember, it must not take longer than 1 minute.

Now that doesn’t sound too hard does it?

The benefits of using the ‘1-minute’ rule?

  • It helps you stay on top of things by getting the little things out of the way
  • Reduces stress, anxiety and overwhelm
  • It only takes literally ‘1-minute’
  • Your self-confidence grows as you start achieving things – even if they are small at first. You will soon find yourself tackling longer tasks to tick off.
  • You feel a sense of accomplishment – What did I do today? Wow!
  • You will actually be more productive with your time and can enjoy leisure time rather than feeling guilty because you are procrastinating.

Ideas of how you can use the ‘1-minute rule’ every day

  • Housework – it helps you stay on top of things like reducing clutter. How hard is it to hang up your clothes, put the coffee cup into the dishwasher, clear the clutter from benchtops because you are putting things away where they belong as you use them?
  • Emails – how many of us have an overflowing Inbox, filled with probably emails which we don’t even open because they are of no interest. For me, lately I’ve been unsubscribing as soon as I decide I’m not interested. Perhaps taking the 1-minute rule to delete or unsubscribe as you read, rather than leaving the email unopened will make your Inbox much cleaner and more manageable.
  • Do 1-minute of squats or walking on the spot throughout the day. The minutes will build up and you will find you start to increase the time.

I’m going to incorporate the ‘1-minute’ rule into my day, staring with my ‘to-do’list and then look at others areas in my life. I’m sure it will make life much easier, less stressful and probably give me more time to do other things I enjoy.

Have you heard of the ‘1-minute’ rule? What do you think of the idea? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Sue Loncaric

Women Living Well After 50

Living Life Your Way


  • Reply Cathy March 15, 2023 at 08:06

    Gosh I remember when Gretchen mooted her ‘1 min rule’ from back in the early 2000s – it had the same effect as Flylady’s ‘shine your sink’ rule…..get those little things out of the way, keep things under control, life will be much easier and you’ll feel much better and able to tackle the big ones.

    They really do work….if you remember to get into the habit of doing them. Thanks for the reminder Sue
    Take care
    Cathy #WWandP

    • Reply Sue Loncaric March 15, 2023 at 08:35

      I hadn’t heard of it before Cathy so I’m late to the party! It is a great idea though and a good habit to get into. x

  • Reply Min Write of the Middle March 15, 2023 at 10:09

    Hi Sue, well this is very good timing because I’m feeling rather overloaded, overwhelmed and stressed lately. More than I’d like. My yoga and pilates and meditation helps enormously but I’m liking the sound of the 1 minute rule very much. I have a very long ‘to do’ list. The 1 minute rule will come in very handy to help me feel like I’m getting some stuff done! Thanks for this. Hope you’re feeling better now (I read you’ve been unwell). Take care. xo

    • Reply Sue Loncaric March 15, 2023 at 11:58

      Hi Min, I find it easy to get overwhelmed and I’m sure you have quite a bit on your plate with looking after your family as well as your Mum. I like the idea of being able to tick off some easy things and at least I feel like I’m getting somewhere. Take care and yes I’m on the mend now, I’m not happy when I’m sick. xx

  • Reply Alison March 15, 2023 at 10:12

    Absolutely love it Sue! I will try and remember this every day. Thanks for sharing

    • Reply Sue Loncaric March 15, 2023 at 11:58

      I loved it too, Alison and it is something we can easily do which always helps, doesn’t it? x

  • Reply Janine March 15, 2023 at 10:32

    I think I have heard of this but Mel Robbins has a similar one – the 5 second rule. If you are procrastinating about getting something done, give yourself just five seconds to make a decision and get started. It really stops the brain overthinking things and you start taking action. Great post for reminding me to get on with the small stuff!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric March 15, 2023 at 11:59

      Hi Janine, yes I’ve heard Mel Robbins one the 5 second rule but I hadn’t heard of the 1 minute rule to actually just get the task done. I’ve ticked off a few boxes this morning so feeling pretty good. x

  • Reply leannelc March 15, 2023 at 10:37

    Hi Sue – I think this is such a great idea for procrasinators. I also like the rule that recommends people clean one small part of their house each day if they have trouble keeping on top of things. A little often can make such a difference.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric March 15, 2023 at 12:00

      Yes I’ve been much better over the years of putting things back where they belong once I’ve used them, Leanne. It makes the house much tidier and things don’t build up. Hope you are feeling okay. Sending love and hugs. x

  • Reply Toni Pike March 15, 2023 at 13:51

    I really like this, Sue. I tend to do this a little bit, but will try to be more diligent and systematic about it. Toni x

    • Reply Sue Loncaric March 16, 2023 at 08:08

      Hi Toni just little things can make such a difference. x

  • Reply Debbie March 15, 2023 at 18:08

    I need this rule! Thanks Sue, it’s only a minute but will make a difference I’m sure 🙂 Thanks for sharing your ideas on TIME with us!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric March 16, 2023 at 08:09

      I love this rule, Deb and I’m trying to do it each day. I’m thinking of teaching it to Ethan and Elliot 🙂 x

  • Reply Joanne March 16, 2023 at 09:42

    I’m not much of a procrastinator but I used to do this with my boys when they were little and I would literally set a timer and challenge them to beat the clock! It helped them keep their rooms and playroom nice and neat.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric March 16, 2023 at 10:51

      I think what you did with your boys is a great idea! I will try it with my grandsons. When they have been really energetic I’ve challenged them to ‘who could stay quiet for the longest’ 🙂 x

  • Reply Jennifer Jones March 16, 2023 at 11:26

    This is a great rule Sue. In my experience that the tiny jobs are the ones that get pushed aside and forgotten. I’m a list girl too!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric March 20, 2023 at 07:45

      It is the little jobs that get left usually isn’t it Jen. Yet if we just do them we can get quite a few ticked off our list in no time. x

  • Reply Retirement Reflections March 16, 2023 at 14:12

    Hi, Sue – I had forgotten that this was called the ‘1-minute rule’ but I use it all of the time. If a task is super short to complete and needs to be done, if at all possible, I do it right then and there. The good news is that it gets done and I usually don’t have to think about it again. The bad news is that I often end up doing things right away that truly could have been saved for later (or never done at all). :O That’s why the ‘no more than one-minute’ is an important part of the rule. 😀

    • Reply Sue Loncaric March 20, 2023 at 07:46

      I’m like you Donna doing things that perhaps I could do later but once I start I just want to finish my list. x

  • Reply Denyse Whelan Blogs March 16, 2023 at 16:07

    I think it’s timely for us all to remember to take that one minute, or one step or one breath in and out, to change the dynamic and the situation. Great to see you link up your post for this week’s Wednesday’s Words and Pics link up at Denyse Whelan Blogs. Thank you for being part of the WWandP community. Denyse.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric March 20, 2023 at 07:47

      I agree, Denyse taking 1 minute just to readjust is important especially when we are feeling anxious or stressed. x

  • Reply Lydia C. Lee March 18, 2023 at 07:00

    I’ve started unsubscribing too after someone told me how much energy resources it used to send them. Seemed like an easy step in the fight against all this climate chaos we’re creating. I will send this post on to my sister too – wrote a long comment on Leanne’s a bout her situation so I won’t repeat it, but she’s a little overwhelmed with things at the moment and no knowing where to start is her act of resistance. This 1 minute rule is a good way to break it. When the kids were studying, I went to a talk and they said to break procrastination, it was important to keep starting (not starting and working for long periods). The act of starting eventually rewired in without the anxiety, so you eventually stopped resisting ‘starting’ a task. This rule is the same premise. #WWandP

    • Reply Sue Loncaric March 20, 2023 at 07:57

      I do hope your sister is okay, Lydia. I like your idea of ‘keep starting’. Usually once we get started we are on our way but starting is the hardest part. x

  • Reply Lydia C. Lee March 18, 2023 at 07:01

    And as I wrote that last bit, I realise I’ve been resisiting writing since I got back. So maybe I need to pracitce ‘starting’ that too….

    • Reply Sue Loncaric March 20, 2023 at 07:58

      I think we all go through that phase, Lydia and then you will get some inspiration and the words will just flow. x

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