Home organization projects that only take 10 minutes may not seem like they are worth the effort. While you may think that you need to carve out a weekend or an entire week to organize your home or get your life organized, all you really need is to find those little pockets of time present in each day.
In fact, you can accomplish a lot in 10 minutes, especially if you focus on one small area. It’s amazing how much organizing you can complete in your kitchen in just 10 minutes, and ditto for your bathroom and clothes closet.
Think about how many times during the week you are presented with time in a 10-minute increment: waiting at the doctor's office, waiting to pick your kids up at school, or waiting for that pot to boil. Stop waiting and start doing with this list of ways to be more organized 10 minutes—or less.
10-Minute Chunks of Time Are Everywhere
Think about all the 10-minute chunks of time that pop up throughout the day:
- Waiting for everyone to finish brushing their teeth in the morning
- The first 10 minutes after you walk through the door
- Sitting in the waiting room before an appointment
- Waiting for a pot to boil or cheese to melt
Break Large Projects Into 10-Minute Segments
Say you need to organize your bathroom but you can't find a full three-hour chunk of time on your calendar to set aside. You can complete the whole bathroom organization task in 10-minute projects: inventory toiletries, declutter under the sink, wash your makeup brushes, and so on.
If you’re sold on the idea but still unsure where to begin, put yourself to work by completing one of these tasks. Whether you're in the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, or at your computer, follow these steps to help you become more organized—quickly and fairly painlessly.
- Go through your dresser and choose one drawer: Take everything out, refold the contents, and neatly stack them.
- Choose one collection (athletic equipment, tools, cleaning supplies, etc.) and declutter: Toss or recycle anything you no longer use.
- Vacuum your car: Throw away any large pieces of trash, then quickly vacuum the upholstery.
- Install hooks in your garage: Use them to hang beach chairs, tools, or bikes.
- Declutter the top drawer of your night table: Dust, tidy, and purge your nightstand of anything you no longer need.
- Create a fitness drawer in your dresser: Gather your yoga pants, tank tops, sports bras, and specialty items, and place them all in the same spot.
- Save important people’s contact info on your smartphone: This will help you in case of an emergency. For instance, put your mom's information under her full name, but enter a second entry for Mom. Another idea is to save a contact called *Emergency contacts. Using the * means this person will come up first in your address book in case someone else needs to get help using your phone.
- Walk around your home and gather light bulbs, batteries, and stamps: Make sure you store these in the same spot so you don't buy more than you need.
- Organize business cards: Gather these cards and any addresses you've written down and add them to your contacts list.
- Organize your T-shirt drawer: Purge any shirts that have holes (or transfer them to function as garage rags), then neatly fold the remaining shirts.
- Go through one file drawer and declutter: Recycle old papers, shred credit card statements, and refile anything out of place.
- Store your receipts: Sit at your desk, open your wallet, and input receipts into your filing system.
- Take 10 minutes to go through your calendar: RSVP to any hard copy and electronic invites.
- Purge your fridge of anything rotten: Try to schedule this just before it's time to bring your trash cans to the curb for trash pick-up. That way, the rotten food doesn't stink up your kitchen.
- Declutter your desktop: Make sure that your favorite writing utensils are neatly organized.
- Organize your social media in one place: Move your Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Linkedin, and Instagram account streams to Hootsuite or Tweetdeck.
- Declutter your Facebook profile and check your privacy settings: Peruse your Facebook friends—this is a good reminder of who's seeing your personal information, pictures, and reading your status updates. Un-friend anyone who should not be seeing your vacation pictures.
- Walk around your home and collect any loose change: Empty pockets, drawers, and wallets. Put all change into a Ziploc bag. Next, store it with your laundry supplies to use at the laundry mat, in your car for parking meters, or in your car to take to the bank to deposit.
- Spend 10 minutes organizing your freezer and labeling contents: Go through your freezer, weeding out anything with freezer burn. For what's left, if you didn't label and date it when you placed it in the freezer, label and date it now and pledge to go through it every few months. If you still haven't used these items, go ahead and toss them. Clean the ice makers and ice trays.
- Organize your entertainment: Make a list of movies and TV shows you'd like to see and add it to your Evernote or your phone's Notes app. This saves time when you decide to watch a movie but can’t think of what you want to watch.
- Declutter one desk drawer: Toss gum wrappers and pens without ink. Group like items together for easier retrieval.
- Draft a general email and save it in your draft file: This is a great tool when you hear from someone you haven't seen/spoken to in a while. This can help you respond to those "So how are you?" emails.
- Purge your Twitter account: Get rid of following people or topics that no longer interest you.
- Clean your makeup brushes: Wash them with antibacterial soap and allow them to dry while laying flat on a washcloth.
- Match up your socks: Set any single socks aside. The next time you do laundry, see if you can find any missing pairs.
- Create a spot for incoming mail: Make sure you have the tools in place to manage your mail when you walk in the door with it.
- Delete old addresses: Go through your smartphone, hard copy, or electronic address book and take out old contacts—especially ex-boyfriends, ex-girlfriends, or anyone else your phone should not be "accidentally" dialing.
- Donate books: List three books to swap on Paperback Swap, and then assemble the packing materials you will need to ship them off to their new lucky owner. A Sharpie, packing tape, and the blank side of a brown paper shopping bag will do.
- Do a clutter sweep: Sit on the couch in your living room and look for any distracting piles. Declutter them.
- Find a storage space for something in your living room: What's on your coffee table that needs to be put away?
- Label cables: Grab the label maker, and label the cables behind your entertainment console.
- Delete old shows. Go through your TiVo or DVR series manager and purge shows you’re not watching or have already watched.
- Stack and store magazines in a tray: Make sure you first recycle any you haven't gotten around to reading in the last six months—are you really going to read them someday? For magazines you've already read, pull out any coupons and recipes you want to keep (and file them), then recycle them as well.
- Gather your throw pillow and blankets: Fold and stack your blankets and rearrange your throw pillows on the couch or chair they belong to.
- Organize your remote controls: Gather and label your remotes with the name of the corresponding device: DVR, stereo, television, and so on.
- Face your books: Go through your book collection, turning each volume in the same direction. This process is called "facing," and it’s used in retail stores to make everything look neat and organized.
- Choose a room that needs extra work: Get your calendar out and plan. What resources do you need to get that done? When do you have time to accomplish this? Plan ahead.
- Just store one type of item: Peruse home storage ideas and store one item in your home that has been just hanging around, such as paper towels or toiletries.
- Recycle some electronics—the right way: Do you have an older item (television, gaming system, or VCR) that you're not sure how to recycle? Find your item, and schedule a time to recycle it if you're not dropping it off immediately to be recycled.
- Measure the inside of each closet in your house: Write down the dimensions—depth, width, and height—of each space, shelf, nook, and cranny on an index card, one per closet, and store them in your wallet or phone. The next time you're in a store buying closet accessories, you'll have the information you need with you.
- Gather all of your umbrellas: Store them together, preferably by the front door or door to the garage.
- Go through your luggage: Remove any leftover papers, gum wrappers, or clothes/toiletries you forgot to unpack.
- Create a meal plan for next week: Do this while looking in your kitchen cabinets, fridge, and pantry to maximize what you already have.
- Edit your Internet browser bookmarks: Chances are you haven't looked at these in a long time.
- Unsubscribe from blogs and emails you no longer read: A simple email search should bring up most of them, or you can use a free service like Unroll.me.
- Declutter your email inbox: Go through your computer and smartphone, and get rid of as many un-needed emails as possible.
- Create and designate a place to leave your keys: A few ideas for spots include a cake stand, hooks, a small tray, a decorative plate, and an old cigar box.
- Gather mail from around your house: Divide it into three piles: action, recycle, and shred.
- Choose one item to return to its rightful storage space: This can include scarves, hats, handbags, and coats.
- Identity a bin, basket, tray, or box you can designate as an "outgoing" container: These containers can hold anything you need when you leave the house such as school papers, outgoing mail, permissions slips, and work papers.
- Email your old boss/influential work colleague to check-in: You never know when you'll need a recommendation.
- Inventory paper products: Take a look at toilet paper, paper towels, and napkins to see if you're running low.
- Pull five items out of your closet that you haven’t worn in two years: Do you still need these? If not, fill a bag or box to donate to a local charity or schedule a pick up with Vietnam Vets.
- Organize your desktop file: If you’re following an effective home filing system, you know how important the desktop Action file is. Spend 10 minutes sorting and organizing.
- Create a checklist for everything you need for your next vacation: Do you need to replace luggage, stock up on toiletries, or renew your passport?
- Find all of your reusable grocery bags, and store them together in the same spot: Consider keeping them in the car, and hang them on the doorknob once you empty them so you can take them back to the car.
- Grab any three bags, such as backpacks, gym bags, or purses: Dump them out and then sort the contents into four piles: trash, recycle, shred, and keep.
- Shred or recycle any mail: This includes magazines, flyers, or extra paper sitting around your entryway.
- Declutter your paper: Recycle old invitations and get rid of expired coupons and any other clutter.
Know that 10 minutes is more than enough to make a dent in home organization, office organization, or life organization. Try it out and see how much can you accomplish in a small amount of time.