Minute Tasks: 40 Things You Can Do in One Minute or Less to Improve Your Life

A few years ago, I was attending a conference, and, as I recall, not really listening to the keynote speaker. It was one of those trying to eat-lunch-and-try-to-meet-new-people-and-I-can-barely-hear-from-the-back-of-the-room sort of things.

But, in a moment of unexpected drop in the banquet room din, I caught something that sunk in. The speaker, musing on happiness, suggested that it’s all those little tasks and the clutter that hang over our heads and keep joy from settling in. That knowing you have a million little tasks to do is more stressful than actually doing those tasks. And it’s not the big work projects, the term papers, the spring deep cleaning that keep us down, but the little stuff that piles up and creates anxiety about when we’ll get it all done. The solution, she suggests, is to not put those things off, but to just do them now. The mantra here is “If you can do it in one minute or less, do it now.” You always have 60 seconds available, and the impact is huge.

I’ve been trying to implement that in my life for the last three years, and though I get out of the habit sometimes, it’s a commitment that consistently helps me feel more peace, more organized, and indeed, more happy.

So, with that in mind, here’s a list of things you can do in one minute or less that really will make your life better and your mind quieter.

1. Make your bed. It only takes 30 seconds.

2. Go around your house and pick up all the dishes and drinking glasses on your nightstand and coffee table. More than one is too many.

3. Trim your toe nails. Seriously, it’s less of a effort than you think. Don’t be caught barefoot with those things.

4. Clean off your computer desktop. An organized space is a productive space.

5. Wipe off your bathroom mirror. You’ll be amazed what a difference this makes, even in a less-than-spotless washroom.

6. Open all the mail and envelopes you know aren’t important. Just throw them away now.

7. Pull in your trash, recycling, and compost bins from the curb. Might as well take out the trash while you’re at it.

8. Plug in your phone and charge it. Make sure it’s ready to go when you need it.

9. Take that pile of shoes by the front door (or under the coffee table) and put them where they belong. Which is probably not by the front door or under the coffee table.

10. Wash that plate or cereal bowl instead of putting it in the sink. If you have time to move it, you have time to wash it.

11. Take all the receipts and papers and bags out of your car. You don’t have to vacuum it clean, but there’s no need for it to be cluttered.

12. Back up your computer. Don’t give Time Machine a chance to tease you with those little pop ups.

13. Wipe off the front of your refrigerator or oven. Boom. Instant shine.

14. Send that one email reply you’ve been avoiding. But just that one. Don’t get caught up in your inbox.

15. Clean the coffee pot or toss the filter and grounds now, not later. 10 seconds. No icky build up.

16. Floss. Your. Teeth. They’re the only ones you got.

17. Go through your text messages and make sure you’ve actually replied to the important ones, not just replied in your head. It’s not the same thing.

18. Invite your spouse or partner for some intimate time later. That should take way more than a minute, but the planning is easy and gets everyone on the same page about expectations.

19. Microwave a bowl of half white vinegar and half water for one minute. This loosens the grime and makes it easy to wipe clean.

20. Clean out your browser tabs. You’re really not missing out by not reading that article you’ve had open for the past eight days.

21. Replenish your toilet paper reserves. They’ll be there when you need them.

22.  Throw all your dirty clothes in the hamper or a laundry basket. It won’t make them clean, but it will make them not on the floor.

23. Water your plants. And spend the remaining thirty seconds putting a reminder on your calendar to do it next time.

24. Stack up books, magazines, records, DVDs, library media, etc, that you’re currently enjoying.  You don’t have to put them away, you just need to put them together.

25. Switch out your bathroom towels. Time for a fresh option.

26. Take your vitamins. Really, you have 3.5 seconds.

27. Look away from the computer screen. Focus on something in the distance to give your eyes a break.

28. Refill your soap dispensers. Don’t have this issue come up when you’re covered with germs.

29. Stand up, take a walk. Repeat every thirty minutes.

30. Put on sunscreen. Then go outside.

31. Smile. Really, really big. If you don’t have it in you, fake it til you make it.

32. Fluff and straighten the pillows on your sofa. Sounds fussy; makes your living room look like you just cleaned it even when you didn’t.

33. Download current episodes of your favorite podcasts. Do it now while you’re on wi-fi, so they’re ready for when you aren’t.

34. Tell somebody you love them. Easy and free. Text your mom.

35. Do 30 pushups. Or work on it until you can. Then go for 30 more.

36. Take all the coats and jackets off hooks and back of the door and hang them up in the closet.  There’s a reason they call it the coat closet.

37. Shake out door mats and bathroom rugs. Go outside and smack them against something.

38. Sweep underneath the toe kick on your kitchen cabinets. Do this once a day, and avoid getting the crud down in the crevices.

39. Wrap and coil up your cables, headphones, and power cords. No more tangles.

40. Close your eyes and breathe deeply for 60 seconds. You’ll feel better. Trust us.

This ManMade post was originally published in October 2015. We’re sharing it again, because we think fall is the best time for getting reorganized, being more productive, and staying sane.