On my iPad, I have an app called Zite, which gives me a sort of personalized magazine of blogs and articles on topics of my choice. One of my topics is happiness, and on any given day, there are many authors with many ideas on achieving, maintaining, and losing happiness.
Usually, there’s nothing revolutionary about these articles. Usually, I’m looking for a reminder of something useful that I’ve forgotten. Which is what happened yesterday. I was feeling a little dispirited. Shopping for my vacation had not gone well. The clutter in my house (and the resulting dust and dirt) was becoming overwhelming.
I clicked through my magazine and glanced through the subtopics of an article that promised to make me happier in the next few minutes. The third idea caught my attention: “If it can be done in the next five minutes, do it.”
I looked around my house. There was a space heater sitting in the middle of the living room floor. Each weekend, I was going to put it away in a closet, but it was now five weeks after the last cold morning, and still it sat there. That could be done in less than one minute. I picked it up and moved it.
While in the closet, I noticed the filter I bought for the air conditioner. I’d been putting that off too. I could do that in five minutes. So I did.
You guessed it: One thing led to another. I even vacuumed the carpet because it’s a lot easier to vacuum when there’s not a bunch of stuff on the floor.
Now, let’s be clear, my house is never going to win the clean or clutter-free award, but it’s better than it was. And all because instead of thinking of the massive amount of work ahead of me, I took things in five-minute chunks.
Time management experts call it the Swiss-cheese technique. It can work for all sorts of tasks, even studying!
So this week, take one thing you’ve been putting off and give it five minutes.