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The Seven Minute Rule to Getting Things Done

The Seven Minute Rule to Getting Things Done

You may have heard about the seven minute rule that involves a company tracking punch-times in fifteen minute increments. If employees clock in seven minutes after the fifteen minutes, the time is rounded down, but it they clock in eight minutes after the fifteen minutes, the time is rounded up.

This is not what we’re talking about!

I have my own seven minute rule which allows me to make quick decisions to get things done, or to put them on the back burner; get them scheduled. If you’re like me, you are the one staff goes to for problems that need to be addressed that they can’t handle…or don’t feel comfortable handling. Some examples include a printer suddenly deciding it doesn’t want to print, or a computer that can’t access the practice management software or not connecting to the server. Maybe for you it’s a client that has questions about the price of a service she originally agreed to and now doesn’t want to pay for, or maybe the alarm system has a steady chirp every five seconds. Perhaps your digital radiograph machine won’t archive the images and you really need to get the images to the specialist. Maybe you have a staff member that has questions about what your website says and how people are interpreting the “New Client Special”. And, of course they all happen the same day, at just about the same time.

Whatever it is for you, sometimes making the decision to get up and address it immediately or getting it on your schedule to handle at a later time can be a difficult one. I have implemented a “seven minute rule” for myself and it is something I live by at work and at home. It has allowed me to be productive and have a sense of accomplishment on those days where I’m working on that three-day project.

My version of the seven minute rule is a simple one. If someone comes to me with an issue that needs to be addressed, I quickly assess how long I think it will take to complete. If it is something that I think will likely take seven minutes or less, I jump up and go take care of it immediately. If I believe it will likely take longer than seven minutes to address, I provide an alternative solution, if needed, and then make a note to address it when I’m done with what I’m working on, or when I’m at a good stopping point.

Note: if it is something that is “mission critical” meaning the staff can’t complete, or continue their work without this being taken care of first, the seven minute rule does not apply. These things just need to be addressed regardless of the time involved.

If I believe it will be longer than seven minutes, I set it on my calendar to address that day if possible, and I let the staff member addressing it know and then I work until I get completed or to a stopping point on the tasks at hand.

I use the same seven minutes rule at home. If asked to take the trash out, I know it will take less than seven minutes so I just do it. Mowing the lawn or cleaning the gutters will take longer, so I schedule those things.

Implementing this seven minute rule for yourself and sticking to it will help co-workers understand that you are ready and willing to assist them when you are needed, but also helps them understand that you may have things on your plate that require more immediate attention and will take priority. When you’re consistent and address those things with a longer completing time at a later date/time, they will appreciate your time and busy schedule and understand those times when you ask to take care of issues at a later time.

Take Action

Implement this rule today. You don’t have to tell those around you that you’ve implemented it; just be clear when they ask for something when you’ll complete it if it isn’t immediately.

A simple “as soon as I get to a stopping point, I’ll get right on it” or simply ask “can it wait a few minutes?” Staff will appreciate your time, if you acknowledge their time and address things that you can immediately.

Once you start this, stick to it. You might just find that your significant other at home appreciates your time more as well.

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