Let’s start with a promise: this is not an article suggesting how to increase your productivity by waking up at 6 a.m., taking a 30-minute cold shower, and eating 6 raw eggs. This method is not magic, takes very little time, and is based on a very simple observation:
There are tasks that take you a minute to do. The idea of having to do them (not doing them, meanwhile) instead haunts you, saturating your mind with the nagging of having to do them.
In other words, there are a lot of things you need to do that are on your to-do list that take little time, but if you don’t do them they will engage your mind constantly. Until you make them. But let’s proceed in order.
How the brain works
It is called the “Zeigarnik effect” after the Russian psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik who discovered a curious aspect of the human brain, namely that it is inclined to remember tasks to be completed more easily than those already completed.
In other words, once you have done something, you don’t remember it anymore. With at least two effects, one positive and one negative: the positive one is that the brain gets rid of things to remember and has more space and energy to do creative or more challenging ones, and a negative one, namely, that what you don’t do but have to do gives you no respite. That is, what was said before: the things you have to do don’t give you a break (you don’t forget them) until you do them. Solution? Do them!
The 1-minute rule
The first thing to do is to look at your to-do list (you’ve already made one, haven’t you?) and organize it according to the time the tasks will presumably take you: surely working on that project will take you hours and hours, but answering certain emails, paying that receipt, emptying the dishwasher and loading the dryer are tasks you can do in minutes.
As you may have guessed, when talking about the “the 1-minute rule” we mean “something you can do in a short time,” not necessarily in a single minute.
Let’s say you can divide your to-do list into two areas, not yet distinguishing between private life and work for now. The only distinction you need to make is between things you can do in a short time and things that take hours or days. And then do the greatest number of “fast” things in a defined time.
In addition to the sense of gratification that comes from completing tasks (and then forgetting about them), the benefit is that you are able to free your mind for the really challenging ones, to which you can now devote more energy and mental space.
In fact, the brain has this programming bug-say, it remembers everything uniformly, whether it is important or less important, and especially regardless of how challenging it is to do so. That’s why you have to help it put everything in order, subjecting it to simple and then increasingly complex tasks. As you may have guessed, the most important thing is to complete as many as possible, and that is why it makes sense to start with the simplest ones.