How Hanging Up a Coat Changed Everything

This past December, I sat in my living room completely overwhelmed by clutter. I needed to pick up because company was coming the next day, but I really didn’t know where to start. So naturally, I headed to Instagram.

I opened my feed that night to a post from Jen Hatmaker that I’ve literally thought about every day since. She had just interviewed Gretchen Rubin of “The Happiness Project” for her podcast, where the two discussed something so small and minute that it sounds completely ridiculous to say it can change your life, but I swear it does. They had discussed what they called One-Minute Tasks.

These are the molehills in our lives that add up to mountains when we don’t take the few seconds to attend to them as they spring up. It’s the backpacks discarded by the back door that didn’t quite make it to the hooks. Or the coffee mug we toss in the sink rather than taking seven seconds to rinse it and place it in the dishwasher. It’s taking 10 extra steps to hang the towel on the hook rather than tossing it over the chair because it’s more convenient. 

Those One-Minute Tasks I’d avoided for so long had me paralyzed. What would now take me hours to conquer could’ve been completely prevented by tending to those small tasks before they become huge ones.

Now, I’m no slob, but I’m also completely not bothered by a small pile of papers on my desk. A perfectly pristine work space or house is not something I need in order to be content. 

My husband, on the other hand, is another story. His side of the bathroom counter has only a container of soap, a mirror, and a toothbrush (in a mug, of course) on it. Mine? Well…that’s unimportant, but the point is that we’re built very differently, okay? I knew this was an area of my life that needed improvement, and I knew this was where I could start.

So, after reading that post, I put down my phone (step one!) and picked up my coat. I had casually discarded it on the arm of the couch on my way into the kitchen. (It’s worth noting that the coat closet is less than six feet away from where it was tossed.) I picked that coat up and hung it up on a hanger like an actual human being. And I felt a tiny sense of accomplishment in those 10 seconds. (We all have to start somewhere, you guys.)

Next, I went for that coffee mug I had dropped in the sink that morning. Twelve seconds. That backpack by the back door? 15 seconds. That junk mail stacked on the kitchen island that need recycling? Five seconds. It has just snowballed from there. 

Over the last few months, I have become so much more cognizant of those One-Minute Tasks. I stop and put the shoes away or put the snack bowl in the dishwasher right when I see it. No more putting it off until it takes an entire night of work to find the counter top of the kitchen island.

So, what One-Minute Task can you tackle right now? Could those tiny changes add up to a big impact for you? I suggest starting with a coat. You just never know where it might lead. 

Allison Ezell
Allison and her husband, Blake, grew up in Dallas and made the move to the 'burbs in 2010 when she began teaching middle school in Frisco. After attending Texas A&M University for her undergrad, Allison came back to Dallas in 2008 to pursue her Master's of Education from SMU. Over the last ten years, she has taught everything from preschool to eighth grade and has a huge passion for literacy. Today, McKinney is home for her family of five which includes Carter (7), Kate (5), and Brooks (3), who was adopted from China in 2016. When she's not chasing the kids around, she can be found drinking coffee, running, avoiding the laundry, traveling, or headed to a girls' night. Follow her self-proclaimed hot mess on Instagram!