Thursday, November 17, 2011

Reggie's Three Minute Rule

One of the rules that I follow on a daily basis is what I call "Reggie's Three Minute Rule."

Every weekday morning before I leave for the office I go through our apartment straightening it up a little bit, here and there.  I walk into a room, pause, look around to see if anything is amiss, and I take care of it if time allows.  I devote no more than a few minutes to doing this task, and sometimes less.  By this point in the morning I've already made our bed and tidied up the kitchen and the bathroom, so the "big" stuff has already been taken care of.  My focus here is on doing one or two extra little bits of tidying that I can accomplish quickly before walking out the door.  It could include picking up an empty coffee mug left sitting on the chest of drawers in our bedroom, or plumping the squashed pillows on the sofa, or putting yesterday's shoes away in the closet.

The goal is to make where we live a more welcoming and serene environment for when we return to it at the end of a busy and oftentimes stressful day.  That way we can focus on unwinding and preparing for the evening, rather than taking care of the niggling little tasks left behind for us to "do later."  In my view, spending just a few extra minutes taking care of these tasks at the beginning of the day, versus later, is time well spent, and well worth the minimal effort required.

And that, Dear Reader, is why I follow this "rule."

Tell me, do you also follow such a rule?

Image courtesy of


  1. Hello Reggie:
    We are so fortunate to have a full time cook/housekeeper so, happily, none of these chores forms part of our daily lives. We cannot imagine life without her!

  2. I wish I had enough closet space for our shoes, I'm going to have to figure something out! I made the bed this morning, as always, even though I was in a rush, and I think it might have taken about 3 minutes. With two ladies in the house to do things I don't know why I persist in tending to this chore myself—I think they think I enjoy doing it! I loved the illustration!

  3. There is a somewhat similar "1 minute rule" which says that any task that can be accomplished in one minute or less is "Do it Now". So if I lazily want to put off any short task, say filling an ice cube tray, I think "one minute rule" and just do it.

  4. Indeed, Mr. Darling, I do follow this rule, or at least endeavor to as much as possible. Your rule very much reflects my philosophy of not putting things off until later, which is never conducive to a stress-free life, in my humble opinion. Indeed, Charles Dickens said it best in his great book David Copperfield, "Procrastination is the thief of time", and that Mr. Darling, is one rule I always follow.

  5. Indeed, I do. I sometimes have to force myself, but it makes such a difference when I walk in after a stressful day at the office. If I have a very early morning meeting, I make sure I do something very similar the night before to leave extra time. And I don't know about you, but with darkness falling so early now, my energy level at the end of the day also drops significantly and I'd rather be settling into a chair with a cocktail before dinner than washing dishes or fussing about the house.

  6. My rule is to clean up the kitchen before I go to bed. I dislike seeing last night's detritus first thing in the morning. This doesn't stop me from spending three minutes every morning wishing we had a butler.

  7. Mine's the 15 minute rule. I set the timer for 15 minutes and put myself to a task. Since I have tidying ADD, the 15 minutes just about does it.

  8. I have always done that -- haven't really thought about it . . . and when I worked in the real world, I would get up early to get all of those chores done so that I could come home to a clean and neat house.

    There is something about walking in the door and everything is in it's place and all is tidy . . . it just puts you in a better mood -- even if you've had a rotten day at work!

  9. I love this 3 minute rule. My Grandmother always said if your bed is made and your dishes are done, it at least gives the illusion your house is clean. My rule is to wash and put away any dishes before bed, because they are so much worse in the morning.

  10. Great post. I have received much teasing over the years about how neat my house is, but I will selfishly admit, I really don't do it for how it looks to others, I do it for how it feels to me. I remember reading a Barbara Barry interview where she talks about the pleasure of walking in the door and having a clear space to set her purse. If I could choose a mentor for grace, it would be her. I want to change clothes, light a fire, pour a glass of wine, and relax- not do dishes or pick up socks. It is worth it later to have that "do it now" mentality.

  11. I have the same rule as Parnassus, about small things that should be done — I call my rule "Just Do It!" It's so much easier to just do it than to have one of many little nagging chores. My "Just Do Its" are usually little things that others might not even notice, like dust on a vent, or a smudge on a light switch.

    I have another rule which is sort of a corollary to your own, and that is that I spend several hours before any out-of-town trip cleaning the house. It makes that "Home, Sweet Home" feeling upon return twice as good.

  12. Absolutely! Before bed, I gather up any strays--shoes, glasses (drinking and reading), tidy up any magazines and books, fluff up the pillows, and set up the coffee. As the last one out the door in the morning, I do the same kinds of things, only with newspapers and towels and breakfast plates. Children have to make their own beds, of course. It's very rewarding to come home to order. In fact, it's essential.

  13. Oh yes I do it too, while the coffee is brewing! Not sure how many minutes that is though? :)

  14. No, but I wish I did or lived with someone like you!

  15. I too do something similar. Each day I will select a different room and try to do something I have either not had time to do or have "put off until later." Just a couple minutes makes all the difference !

  16. Oh, yes, I follow that rule. The three minutes a week rule!

  17. Yes of course. Nothing more depressing than coming home to a messy house. It takes so little to make it presentable - a made up bed, empty trash cans, clean sink, and a bathroom quickly wiped down with alcohol (in a pinch).

    Didn't everyone grow up with "The Rules" taped on the refrigerator?

    If you open it, close it.

    If you turn it on, turn it off.

    If you break it, repair it.

    If you can’t fix it, call someone who can.

    If you borrow it, return it.

    If you make a mess, clean it up.

    If you use it, take care of it.

    If you move it, put it back.

    If it belongs to somebody else and you want to use it, get permission.

    If you don’t know how to operate it, leave it alone.

    If it doesn’t concern you, don’t mess with it.



  18. Darling Reggie Darling,
    I am asking you because I trust your opinion. Must napkins be square? I am in a quandary. We will be 16 on Thurs and I decided to use up fabric samples and bits to make napkins. Some bit are just not enough to be square but are generous....say 15x30. Would you feel shortchanged if it was yours? Am I loosing my mind?

  19. GraysonFavor: I would not hesitate to use the fabric samples that you are considering, thank you for asking. They sound more than ample, and I am sure they are lovely. HT to you!


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