I’ve always struggled with tidying up my house and keeping it clean, and it made me feel disorganized in other parts of my life. I used to put dishes in the sink and then let the plates and bowls just sit there. I have an old dishwasher, so with all the scrubbing and drying, it just took forever to get them done. And it wasn’t just the dishes — I would pile up my clothes instead of hanging them up and putting them away, and then they’d end up getting kicked under the bed or my cat would sit on them, and I’d need to wash them again. 

I got two full knee replacements in September and October, so I had to take a 6-month leave from work. 

I’ve been a cashier for 12 years, and all of a sudden I had all this time at home. I figured it was the perfect time to finally do what I’d been wanting to do for so long. I had tried the Thrive Challenge a few years ago, so I knew about it already. Now that I had the time, I decided to download the Thrive app and right away saw the Microstep: “If something takes less than two minutes, do it immediately.” 

I decided that I would try to implement my own “two-minute rule.” 

If I saw something, I’d pick it up and put it away. Or if I was heating up food in the microwave for two minutes, I’d use that time to rinse a couple dishes and put them in the dishwasher. This really worked for me! It started as two minutes, but a lot of the time I would end up cleaning for longer. I’d start tidying up and then just keep walking around doing more. I used to have an all-or-nothing mindset, where I’d say “I need to clean the entire kitchen counter,” but it never got done. Breaking it down to two minutes made me actually stick to it. 

The two-minute rule started helping me in other parts of my life. 

I started attending online paralegal school recently. It’s something I’ve always been interested in, and I have a 12-year-old son, Gabriel, so I wanted to be an inspiration to him. I wanted to show him that I’m doing something he can be proud of. Now when I have to do homework, I use the two-minute rule to break down my assignments and actually get them done on time. I want to be better for Gabriel. He’s the light of my life.

It also helped me get active again after staying at home for so long.

My physical therapist gave me these resistance bands to work with my knee, so I started doing stretches and exercises with the bands when I needed little breaks from my schoolwork. I’m a Christian, and I listen to a singer called Judy Jacobs, and she does a lot of fast praise music. So I’ll take two minutes to dance around the house to her music. Gabriel joins me sometimes and he makes me crack up. 

Now that my house is cleaner, my whole mindset feels more organized.  

I’ve been talking to a friend from high school I haven’t talked to in like 25 years, and he travels for work, and he said, ”If I have a job in Pennsylvania, I’ll try to get back up that way.” Before all this I would have been freaking out if he called and said, “I’ll be there in an hour,” because I would’ve thought, “Oh my god, you cannot come in my house.” And now it’s like, “Okay, call me an hour before you’re here.” 

The habits I took on when I was on leave are helping me a lot now that I’m back at work. 

Now that I have work and school on my plate, I’ve been worrying about managing it all. But my new habits have helped a lot. Now when I get home and I’m tired, I tell myself, “You just need two minutes,” and I’ll wipe off the counter or take out the vacuum. The habits I started during that time have helped keep my momentum going. I’m staying on top of it and encouraging myself to keep doing better. I keep reminding myself that the little things really do add up.

— Kathleen Wallace, Walmart Supercenter #3738; Natrona Heights, PA, $5K Winner