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  • Writer's pictureAndy Robinson

The One Minute Rule

Each week, usually on Sunday afternoon or first thing Monday morning, I complete my weekly planning process. As part of that process, I do a comprehensive review of my “open loops” (my master to-do list, my email inbox, my client project list, etc.) and then either (1) Schedule important activities on my calendar for the upcoming week (my “big rocks” and key goals for the week) or (2) Enter them into “Todoist” (my task management system) with a due date during the upcoming week.

As I enter the week, I then ensure that anything that comes my way that requires action on my part is either (a) input into my master to-do list (Todoist), (b) earmarked for action in my email inbox, OR (c) immediately acted upon … but ONLY if the action can be done in about a minute or less … my “one-minute rule.”

I adopted and adapted my one-minute rule from David Allen’s “two-minute rule” as described in his book “Getting Things Done” (my all-time favorite time management book and the book that helped me structure and implement my weekly planning and task management process).

My one-minute rule is pretty simple:

  • If anything in the weekly “whirlwind” of day-to-day activity comes my way that can be acted upon (and completed) in about a minute or less, I go ahead and DO IT immediately:

  • An email reply

  • An action request included in an email

  • An action in follow-up to a client meeting or phone call

  • A reply to a voicemail message or action included therein

  • Any other action that otherwise pops into my head over the course of the day

  • Otherwise, as noted above, it gets set aside in my system for future action.

Without a one-minute rule, it’s too easy, distracting, and ultimately unproductive to undertake action on things that are seemingly urgent at the moment, but could truly wait until another time (if done at all)… those things that would draw me away from the key priorities I decided at the beginning of the week are truly most important for me to focus on and/or accomplish that week.

My one-minute rule is not a perfect system and exceptions are definitely made from time to time, but it establishes a mindset that helps me effectively deal with the day-to-day whirlwind of action requests. It has truly been a game-changer for me.

I have also found that for my clients who have adopted a similar approach, completion of important priorities is more consistently achieved. Some clients follow a 5-minute rule or some a two-minute rule (I’ve even had a client or two who followed a 30-second rule), but the philosophy and practice are generally the same, and outcomes are transformative.

How about you, how do you effectively handle the day-to-day whirlwind of requests for your time and attention?

How do you ensure your top priorities receive the time and attention they deserve when they need to get done?

Andy Robinson, Executive Coach



"Helping CEO's and executives maximize their influence and impact."

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