How To Get Back on Track (The One Minute Reset)

May 7, 2020

These days, I’m finding it easier than ever to get overwhelmed. Work is busy, the world is chaotic, and no one knows what is going to happen next.

Some days, I find the quiet and solitude of working from home pretty nice. No commuting, no hustling around London, no noisy coworking spaces. I feel privileged that this new normal has given me some productive work periods.

Other days, it’s just the opposite. Too much news. Too much Twitter. Too much worrying about when I’ll next see my friends, my family, or the inside of a coffee shop.

When that happens, my mind feels scattered, and the list of “things to do” seems never-ending. Then I realize, I have a choice.

I can choose to keep distracting myself, or to stay paralyzed by panic. Or I can choose to recognize the distraction, acknowledge my anxious feelings, then let go and move on.

When I choose to move ahead, I often practice a simple One Minute Reset.

This practice is a blend of mindfulness, breathing, and practical productivity that you can do anytime, anywhere.

It is a great way to regain focus and get back on track.

It helps to calm your mind and relax your body.

It can even make you a little happier, by reorienting your attention to the present moment.

Here’s how it works:

  • Notice when you’ve become distracted, overwhelmed, or feel scattered. Acknowledge that feeling.
  • Stop whatever you’re doing, just for one moment.
  • Close down your laptop, silence your phone, and put away your work.
  • Breathe five deep breaths, paying special attention to a long, slow exhale (aiming to exhale for 2x the length of your inhale).
  • Choose one small task you can do right now that will feel good to finish.
  • Start again on your work, with laser focus on that one task.

Ideally, your next task takes less than 15 minutes to accomplish so you can create an easy win and build momentum.

Once you’ve done that, try to keep focused on doing one thing at a time and enjoy the practice of single-tasking until your next break.


If you want to supercharge your One Minute Reset, here are a couple of practices that I’ve found to be incredibly useful.

Close Your Browser Tabs. I used to keep 10, 20, maybe 30 tabs open in Chrome at a time, thinking that if I closed something important, I wouldn’t remember to come back to it. Now, I find it liberating to limit myself to three tabs at a time. Even with this limit, my tab count still creeps up, and I find closing them all down before a One Minute Reset helps calm my mind.

Practice Breathing. How we breathe is how we live. Your breathing patterns are consciously and subconsciously affecting your body, especially your central nervous system. Becoming more aware of your breath and learning how to modulate breathing patterns to increase energy or calm anxiety is an excellent skillset. If you’re just starting out, apps like State can help you learn how to utilize your breath patterns in interesting ways.


“Do not wait until the conditions are perfect to begin. Beginning makes the conditions perfect.”

— Alan Cohen