Photograph by Brett Jordan via Unsplash

One minute is better than no minutes

April 9, 2024

One minute is better than no minutes. Doing something is exponentially better than doing nothing. Literally. Any amount times zero is still zero.

One minute of movement is better than not moving at all.

One minute of picking things up off the floor of the living room is better than not picking anything up.

One minute of brushing your teeth is better than not brushing at all. I’m sure your dentist would agree.

And…one minute of prayer is far better than no minutes of prayer.

Time management teacher Mark Forster used to say, “I’ll just get the file out.” Forster suggests that after you open the file, you often find yourself getting on with the work. Nowadays it could be, “I’ll just open the document.” I did use his catchphrase to get an actual paper file out just last week. It got me going. If you open the file and close it again, you’ve brought that work to your attention. You’ve taken a little step over the hump of procrastination. “I’ll just do something for one minute” is a similar mind trick to get started.

I know that longer periods of concentration are valuable. However, I’ve always worked well in shorter spurts. I’m finishing up a book manuscript on sustainable ministry in times like these. Of course, it took a lot more than one minute or even one minute a day. But I haven’t worked on it for more than an hour at a time. It was far easier to get started when I knew I didn’t have to work on it all day.

Good church leaders tend to have high standards for themselves. Paradoxically, that can get in the way of getting started.

Good church leaders tend to have high standards for themselves. Paradoxically, that can get in the way of getting started. Doing it right can seem overwhelming. But the energy to put things off is sometimes more than the energy to do the work once we start. I’ve found taxes to be a great example of this. When I added up the time once I actually got started on it, it was only a few hours. I used to spend weeks putting it off. 

Here’s a few ideas for one-minute (or less) ministry tasks:

  1. Read one verse of the text for Sunday.
  2. Text someone you’ve been meaning to call or visit but keep putting off. If they don’t text, pray for them. 
  3. Watch your breath for ten breaths. Use a phrase like “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”
  4. Open a book on your pile of unread books. Read the first sentence and decide immediately whether or not you want to read it.
  5. Write down your purpose for the day. Don’t take more than one minute to think it up.
  6. Send a one-sentence email asking someone to do something. (Don’t look at the rest of your email while you’re doing it.)
  7. Say a quick prayer for someone in need.
  8. Make a list of five other one-minute tasks.
  9. Do one of the tasks on the list you made.

What causes procrastination? Anxiety. I don’t get started on things because I think they are going to be hard. I’m anxious that I’m not up to it. Tiny tasks help me lower my anxiety and get going: “I’ll just do it for one minute.”

Rev. Margaret Marcuson helps ministers do their work without wearing out or burning out, through ministry coaching, presentations and online resources.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of American Baptist Home Mission Societies.

Don't Miss What's Next

Get early access to the newest stories from Christian Citizen writers, receive contextual stories which support Christian Citizen content from the world's top publications and join a community sharing the latest in justice, mercy and faith.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Share This