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Ten 10-Minute Tips for Cutting Clutter

Ten 10-Minute Tips for Cutting ClutterFor you, just thinking about getting organized might be overwhelming. Or maybe you’re looking for a few quick tips to declutter your space. Either way, carving out 10 minutes a day can help.

“Working in 10-minute blocks of time solves one of the biggest problems with getting organized,” according to Jamie Novak, author of several books on organizing, including The Get Organized Answer Book, 1000 Best Quick and Easy Time-Saving Strategies and 1000 Best Quick and Easy Organizing Secrets.

That big problem is “the idea that you have to have enough time to do it all or why even bother getting started.”

Most of us can spare 10 minutes a day to have a more functional space. Below, Novak shared her favorite tips, which take 10 minutes or less, for cutting clutter and getting organized.

  1. Create a “borrowed” box or basket. In it put items you’ve borrowed, such as library books, DVDs, video games and CDs. Keep the container in a common spot.
  2. Label cords for regularly used devices. You might label cords for your cell phone, camera or GPS.
  3. Tackle a task from your to-do list. This might be anything from putting new batteries in your TV remote to sewing a button on your pants.
  4. Organize your linen closet. Get rid of tattered towels and sheets that don’t fit. “Take these linens to the local animal shelter. They make cozy places to sleep on the hard metal cages for the cats and dogs waiting to be adopted.”
  5. Purge old vases. “Take extras to a local senior center. The residents are often given flowers by family members and they need a vase to place them into.”
  6. Create an everyday makeup bag. Put the makeup you wear on a regular basis in one bag. This way you eliminate the time you spend sorting through your other beauty products.
  7. Review your instruction manuals. Do you even own the devices that belong to these manuals? If so, put those manuals in one space. If not, recycle them.
  8. Raid the fridge. Get rid of any spoiled foods, or as Novak called them, “unidentified food objects.” Then designate one shelf for storing leftovers.
  9. Sort your catalogs. Go through your catalogs, and recycle the ones you won’t be ordering from. “Then register with to have your name removed from mailing lists.”
  10. Keep a box of receipts by your entryway. When you get home, put any new receipts in that box. “When you need receipts to make a store return or to compare to your credit card statement you’ll know just where to find them.”

If the thought of starting to organize stresses you out, Novak suggested playing a game. Identify the pile, shelf or space you’d like to work on. Consider how long it’ll take to organize. Set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes. Then challenge yourself to see how much organizing you can do during that time.

As Novak said, you’ll likely be pleasantly surprised at how much you’ve accomplished. “Although you probably won’t be finished, you’ll have gotten started and getting started is the hardest part.”

Of course, if your space is very disorganized and messy, 10-minute spurts won’t create a fully organized home. That means you might not see much progress, which could be demotivating, said Emily Wilska, owner of The Organized Life and author of the book Organizing Your Home: Decluttering Solutions and Storage Ideas. So she suggested including longer spurts, such as 30 minutes to 3 hours.

Then once your space is as organized as you like it, even 5 minutes a day can keep your space and systems functional and up to date, she said.

Ten 10-Minute Tips for Cutting Clutter

Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.

Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. is an Associate Editor and regular contributor at Psych Central. Her Master's degree is in clinical psychology from Texas A&M University. In addition to writing about mental disorders, she blogs regularly about body and self-image issues on her Psych Central blog, Weightless.

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APA Reference
Tartakovsky, M. (2018). Ten 10-Minute Tips for Cutting Clutter. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 27, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 5 Oct 2013)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
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