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My least favorite thing about working in a restaurant was cleaning up at the end of the night. Especially on busy nights, when the dishes piled up and the floors got covered with bits of food. Sadly, that scenario is not unique to the restaurant industry. Sometimes when cooking a from-scratch meal at home, my kitchen looks the exact same way. If you’re like me, you might find yourself at a loss for how to keep your kitchen clean and still put (good) weeknight dinners on the table.
Then, I came across the one-minute rule, and I’m pretty sure it changed my life. It seemed like such an easy thing to do—just clean as I cooked—so I gave it a try. What happened? At the end of the meal, almost all of the dishes were washed or in the dishwasher and my kitchen was basically clean!
What Is the One-Minute Rule?
The One-Minute Rule goes as follows: I must do any task that can be finished in one minute. That’s it—if it only takes a minute, just get it done this minute. It’s a way of tricking yourself into doing all kinds of little things instead of putting them off until they pile up into a mountainous to-do list. So, instead of trying to figure out your priorities, you simply assess each task based on the time it will take. And, if it takes less than a minute, you just do it.
For example, I was baking bread the other day. I had all kinds of measuring spoons, cups and bowls out to mix my ingredients together. Normally, I have a tendency to throw those things into the sink and leave them for later. I always have great intentions clean up after I’m finished cooking but all too often, I get lazy and leave them for tomorrow. Unfortunately, I don’t feel like doing it tomorrow either, and since my kitchen is such a mess I usually end up ordering take-out instead of cooking.
This time, using the One-Minute Rule, I rinsed off my measuring spoons and placed them into the dishwasher before I went back to mixing my bread. When the bread was resting, I washed the bowls (because it only took a minute!) and wiped the excess flour off the counter. As it turned out, it was neither annoying nor time-consuming to clean up one minute at a time. I transformed from being someone who had a sink full of dishes to someone who actually washes dishes as she goes. It felt so much better to load the dishwasher one item at a time instead of letting things pile up, creating an hour’s worth of work for later.
Once I got into the practice, I started looking for one-minute tasks everywhere I went. How long does it take to wipe down the kitchen counters? Less than a minute! What about cleaning out the sink after washing the dishes? Yup, that qualifies. Replacing the trash liner after taking out the trash? Tidying the counters and putting away stray items? You bet!
This one tiny habit turned into the difference between a dirty kitchen and a sparkling clean one. Not only that, I found myself happier and more enthused about cooking! Now that I’ve gotten the hang of it, I think I might apply the rule to the rest of my cluttered life. Because, why not? It only takes a minute.