8 Surprisingly Effective Ways to Organize Your Life in 10 Minutes a Day

By Aly Walansky
|
April 29, 2022
an illustration of someone cleaning and organizing their home in triplicate
Image credit: Lindsey Engelken for Clean Plates

Whether it’s working out, eating right, or getting ourselves organized, we often use being “too busy” as an excuse not to do what we need to do. It’s a fair point, too — we are very busy, after all. Whether we have demanding jobs, school obligations, relationships, children, pets, or all of the above, our attention is divided in so many ways. It can sometimes feel like we don’t have time to take care of anything else, even if it’s something that will ultimately make our lives easier.

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But the reality is, something like “taking control of our lives” and “getting organized” doesn’t actually have to take a ton of time or be a huge project. In fact, there’s a lot we can do in as little as ten minutes a day. It’s true: we asked the experts for their best advice on how to accomplish this, and their responses were surprisingly doable. 

1. Choose *teeny-tiny* areas to organize

It’s easy to give ourselves huge demands that we can’t reasonably hope to fulfill, like “organize the whole kitchen in one afternoon” or “build Rome in a day.” But these are not reasonable goals. Instead, pick extremely small accomplishments, and things will actually, yes, get accomplished. “Instead of trying to organize an entire space, start with one small area,” says organizational expert Jill Koch of Jill Comes Clean. For example, instead of organizing the entire bathroom all at once, choose to organize just one drawer. The next day, tackle one shelf. In just a few days, you’ll actually have a tidy bathroom — instead of just another to-do item still hanging out on your list.

2. Keep a donation bag in your closet

Many of us have an embarrassing number of items in our closets that we haven’t worn in years. They may be a style we don’t like anymore, a size that is not our current size, and some may be stained or damaged beyond use. So why keep clothes that we don’t wear? They’re just taking up valuable real estate. “The second you realize you don’t like it or notice that it’s seen better days, toss it right in the bag,” says Jen Noseworthy, owner of The Simply Sorted Home and Expert at StorageUnits.com. This will keep your closet always looking its best. When the bag starts to get heavy, take it down to the thrift store and replace it with another bag.

3. Follow the two-minute rule

Train yourself to live by this simple rule: “Take the two minutes it takes to put something back where it belongs,” says Noseworthy. We tend to leave things sitting around until it’s clean-up time because that appears easier, but if you get into the habit of being disciplined about putting things away as you use them, your place doesn’t have to get tidied as frequently because it just stays neat. “Don’t put it down, put it away,” says Koch. “This really helps cut down on clutter.”

4. Fold clothes in a way that saves time and space

Refold clothing in your bureaus so that everything is standing up. “This allows you to see everything in your drawer when you open it,” says Ali Tedeschi, owner of H.O.M.E. by Ali and expert at StorageUnits.com. It should only take you about ten minutes to do each drawer, and will end up saving you serious time and effort every morning when you get dressed. If you can’t imagine what that looks like, check out this video by organizing guru Marie Kondo, who makes it look super easy (and to be honest, we’ve followed her lead and it’s actually a pretty great method). 

5. Use a hamper that sorts your laundry for you

“Use a standing laundry rack that has multiple sacks for sorting,” says Tedeschi. This way, when you go to do the laundry, everything is ready to go and you don’t have to do any extra work. There are a ton of options available online, but we’re fans of this version available on Amazon — it’s easy to assemble, seriously durable, and makes laundry day much, much simpler.

6. Discover moments when multitasking makes sense

Multitasking doesn’t always work — sometimes you just have to give your full attention to a task or it won’t be done properly. But there are other times when the task at hand is pretty mindless, so you can take the time to do something else. “For example, when brushing your teeth, you can put bathroom items away,” says Koch. Brushing your teeth should take just about two minutes — which is just about the exact right amount of time to take stock of what’s out of place in the bathroom, and use your free hand to move things to their right spot — maybe even wipe down the counter and sink.

7. Deal with mail as it arrives…

Mail has a way of piling up fast — which makes it a huge chore to open and manage. Avoid the chaos by addressing all incoming mail on a daily basis. “Open it, see if there is an action item, and if not, toss or shred it immediately,” says Tedeschi. “If there is something that needs to be dealt with, put it in a tray to be acted on that week.” 

8. …and slim down your mailbox

“Opt out of paper bills and statements whenever possible,” says efficiency expert Jaclyn Strauss, CPA, CEO at 2nd Vault. “This will reduce the amount of paper clutter in your home, and help you stay organized and on top of your finances.” Strauss also recommends shredding or recycling unwanted papers. “Don’t let unused or outdated documents take up valuable space in your home. Shred or recycle them so you can make room for more important things,” she says.

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