The One Minute Life

Monday Author: Susanne Skinner

When I was younger, shortcuts were appealing. They offered a workaround that absolved me from a longer, perhaps more tedious process. I rarely questioned the end result. Age and experience helped me realize there are no shortcuts to the important things—they require the investment of time. There is no such thing as a One Minute Life.

There is no such thing as a One Minute Life.But the Internet tells me otherwise. It offers options that feel like shortcuts, reducing just about everything in my life to one minute:

  • The One Minute Manager
  • The One Minute Workout
  • The One Minute Parent
  • The One Minute Salesperson
  • The One Minute Miracle

Back in the day we liked shortcuts because they appeared to be efficient; they used less energy and fewer resources, and they made us believe we had cracked some kind of secret code. Authors touted quick fixes, silver bullets and magic wands. People believed they did not have to work hard for results; they would simply appear.

Easy Street and the One Minute Life

It’s the continuing search for Easy Street: instant money, quick promotions, ultimate weight loss and, of course, Minute Rice. These aren’t tricks and tips for working more efficiently, they’re ways around work.

But even Minute Rice takes five minutes. We have been seduced into measuring our worth and accomplishments with a time stamp. Authors and experts try to convince us that in circumventing a process we are still guaranteed to be successful. Even the laws of physics point to the path of least resistance as the one most often taken. Does that make it the right path, or do we find ourselves backtracking to the long-term course we should have taken in the first place?

You can’t take a shortcut to the important things in life. Excellence and success may look like an overnight phenomenon but the reality is they are the result of years of investment, dedication and practice.

No great thing was ever accomplished overnight.

The Right Way

It’s not that we shouldn’t create shortcuts, because once in a while shortcuts work—but more often they fail to measure up to their intent. Being drawn to the easy path is human nature. It’s a built-in mechanism that doesn’t fit as well in today’s world as it did in the 80s. The advent of technology, outsourcing and resource management, and global communication have created a new landscape for work and leisure. It’s not wrong to consider shortcuts, but we must be selective in choosing where and how we apply them.

Every one of us is pressured to do more with less, revolutionizing how we live and work. If anything has changed, it is that we have become more practical and more emboldened to take control of our lives. In doing so, we learned not afraid of hard work, and we like to be acknowledged and rewarded for the success that comes from it.

A well-thought-out shortcut improves efficiency, but first we have to take the time to develop it. Start-up employees put in 20 hour days with the goal of creating and streamlining a business that will be more efficient and profitable over time. In the grand scheme of things, the people who work hard get to enjoy the results.

Busy Work versus Real Work

When the One Minute Manager was published in 1982 it sold over 13 million copies. Heavily criticized as a fad and a rip-off of the management by objective process (which emphasized motivation), it offered managers a framework with three focus areas: how to set goals, provide praise, and deal with reprimands (now called redirects). When the One Minute Manager was published in 1982 it sold over 13 million copies. Heavily criticized as a fad and a rip-off of the management by objective process (which emphasized motivation), it offered managers a framework with three focus areas: how to set goals, provide praise, and deal with reprimands (now called redirects).

The title was misleading. The book is not a one-minute short-cut; it’s a proposal that touts a short but focused investment with long-term benefits. Its premise is that many of us are engaged in too much busy work and not enough real work. The ability to jointly define specific topics and goals and execute on them in a short span of time is still a sought-after skill.

The same holds true for any book offering a One Minute approach to life. There are no shortcuts; at least the kind these writers would have us believe exists. If you’re spending more time looking for them than doing the things you need to do, it’s time to reevaluate why you’re doing them in the first place.

There are many things than can be accomplished in one minute; things that add up on a to-do list. Putting away laundry, emptying the dishwasher, praising an employee, thanking a friend—short, focused tasks completed easily and with clear results. None of these revolutionize the world –that’s bigger stuff and it takes way longer than a minute. But you can learn and apply the same principles.

The One Minute Rule

People live and work differently today. We want to make meaningful contributions and have them acknowledged. When I reflect on my personal and professional accomplishments I do so with pride. I would not trade any of the hard work, nor would I shorten the investment I had to make.

It’s the continuing search for Easy Street: instant money, quick promotions, ultimate weight loss and, of course, Minute Rice. These aren’t tricks and tips for working more efficiently, they’re ways around work. But even Minute Rice takes five minutes. There is no single solution—in one minute or any other time length—that magically changes everything. To work productively and live happily, you must define what that means and then put in the time and effort to achieve it.

What these books can do is to inspire us to identify and manage the physical and mental clutter we encounter every single day. The One Minute rule reduces tasks that feel overwhelming into manageable chunks of space and time. They encourage alternative ways to resolve or change unproductive situations and break away from routines holding you hostage.

Every one of us gets the same 24 hours. None of us can bank it for use later on. What we make of those days, or more importantly, how we spend each of those 1,440 minutes, measures how successful we really are.

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