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The one-minute cleaning rule that will change your life

I HAVE spent the majority of my life being uber-organised so that I could fit more STUFF into my days.

But it is only in the last year or so that I have come to my senses and instead chosen to use my free time to look after myself better, rather than squeezing more and more commitments into my days.

So I want to share with you with my most favourite tip in the world for creating more me-time, but before I do, let me tell you that back in the day I was a pile-a-holic:
* I had a pile of papers (bills, statements etc) in an in-tray in the study.
* I had piles of clothing on top of the dresser in my cupboard.
* There was a pile of unused DVDs on top of the DVD player.
* There was a pile of books on the counter top.
* There was a pile of magazines on the floor in the toilet.
* There was a pile of newspaper all neatly stacked in the corner.

They were all very neat these piles, but they were everywhere I looked and every single one of them did my head in because I was thinking about them all the time.

The smaller piles were irritations - a form of mental as well as physical clutter. The larger piles were yokes around my neck - the bigger they got, the more time it was going to take to sort them out, so the less inclined I was to tackle them.

Inevitably a day would come where I would wipe out an entire weekend day to do a year's worth of filing. Or I'd lose a whole morning to going through the pile of clothes on my dresser to determine what could be hung up and what had to be washed or taken to the dry cleaner. Often, instead of sitting for 10 minutes with a cup of coffee I'd decide that ‘no, I simply can't relax with all these piles around me' and instead spend that 10 minutes dealing with the piles instead of chilling out.

This is where the one-minute rule comes in

Gretchen Rubin mentioned it in her New York Times Bestseller The Happiness Project and I have been a devotee of it ever since. The rule is simple - if something takes less than one minute to do, do it straight away.
So that piece of clothing you just took off - it takes less than a minute to fold it or hang it up.

The newspaper that you've finished reading - it takes less than a minute to walk outside and put it in the recycle bin.

The bill you've just paid - less than a minute to file it.

It also takes less than a minute to replace a book on a bookshelf, put a DVD back in its case or wash that cup you've just finished with.

An interesting exercise is to make a mental note throughout the day of all the little things you find that you can't be bothered doing immediately that take less than a minute - you'll be stunned!

For me, I have found that ever since implementing this rule I never get that situation where 10 minutes of blessed time-out for myself is forsaken in favour of dealing with clutter. And I can't remember the last time I had to give up a precious weekend day to sort out a recalcitrant in-tray either.

See more from Kelly Exeter here

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