1-Minute Solution to Getting Things Done

If you have a task that can be done in one minute – do it immediately. Don’t start putting small tasks under some heavy project… if the task can be done in small amount of time, it’s better to do it right away.

Small tasks can be anything from writing a short email, short blog entry, responding to some important questions, filing papers, signing checks… anything. I get a feeling of achieving something when I do this. Papers won’t bile in my desk. My ToDo-list stays a lot smaller. This way these small tasks get done: one hundred minor things can be done in very small time when they are done immediately after receiving them… but if you let these tasks pile – you’ll end up having a huge amount of work which might seem impossible to finish, and they might even require extra effort later (you’ll need to remind yourself what the task was about).

I recommend this: 1 minute tasks should be done immediately.

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. It’s true that this is more like a produtivity issue than direct programming issue, but I can think of some examples:
    – naming conditions or re-naming some functions or modules (especially in the beginning of game development)
    – use of some functions right when they are needed (for example: let’s say you secure all your art files into “art.pak” and decrypt them using “Pak()” function. As you load a new model “newguy.3ds” you should use command “LoadModel(Pak(“newguy.3ds”)). But if you keep it lazy and decide NOT to add newguy.3ds in the “art.pak”, you decide to use “LoadModel(“newguy.3ds”)”. This might take only couple of minutes to do, but if you don’t do it – it might bring some problems in the later. (This is quite an artificial problem, but still something like this could happen)
    – commenting a function or module (you decide to “do it later”… but if you leave the function untouched for couple of months it will take ages to remember what it should do)

  2. I’m actually going to read GTD a second time in the coming month. I liked my productivity improvements from last year, and I want to try improving more this year. I believe he uses two minutes as the time limit, but the principle is the same.

    That said, I don’t know of any programming tasks that would only take one or two minutes. Maybe the actual coding would, but it isn’t usually as simple as sitting down, writing code, and walking away.

    On the other hand, you could send out a quick email. You could learn the price of that product you were thinking about buying. You could get the address of the mechanic as well as a price for when you bring your car in to be fixed.

    I am not sure how much this method could be directly applied toward game development, but it sure helps to get through meta-work.

  3. Jack9: Thanks for your comment.

    I think programming is only one area where you can use this. You can use it on other ares of your life very well. Let’s take a simple example: let’s suppose you receive a letter from a bank. Basically you can check out the letter and put the paper on your desk “to file later”. When you continue this practise your desktop ends up being a big pile of papers… and when you try to search something important from that pile it takes awful lot of time. That’s why it would have been better to file that bank paper immediately. I’m sure similar issue can happen for example with emails.

    If your programming tasks seem to take 1 minute, but end up taking 2 hours then I personally wouldn’t use this rule for those. If it’s not 100% clear that the task will take only 1 minute, then simply don’t apply the rule. I know very well “little things” will take lots of time. I think “little things” and “1-minute things” are two different issues which has to be able to recognised (at least in that point when you notice that 1 minute has passed and you notice the “little thing” to grow into a “massive task”)

    I recommend reading bestselling book Getting Things Done by David Allen. The author has worked over 20 years as a management/organizer/productivy consultant and is perhaps one of the leading productivity consultants in the worl. He uses this rule (or similar one) as a part of his process. He believes in the whole system and I think the 1-minute rule can have tremendous impact getting “annoying tiny things” off your ToDo list and away from your mind. (The reason I didn’t mention him previously is simple: (1) I have used this 1-minute rule before I heard of him and (2) I have not finished reading the book yet)

  4. Of course, the problem is that things that seem like 1 minute, never take 1 minute. They take 2 hours most of the time and you just didn’t expect it. This is called “getting bogged down”. I find “do the little things” advice to be among the worst for DEVELOPERS.

  5. Heh, excellent – contact info was missing alright. I’ve added. Took me about 1 minute to set that information on this site so I did it right away ;)

  6. How do I get contact information for your site/author in 1 minute?

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