That’s right, 15 minutes. Why is that quarter of an hour magical? Because it’s just long enough to get some good cleaning done, but not long enough to feel overwhelming. You can do anything for 15 minutes, right? (Kimmy Schmidtt, anyone?) Ok, her mantra was for 10 seconds, but if you’re both serious about wanting to declutter your space and feeling a little overwhelmed, follow these guidelines.
First things first: Set a timer. Really. Don’t ballpark it, don’t estimate. Put your phone alarm on, set a kitchen timer. 15 minutes. Work from the time it starts till the time it rings (or chimes or buzzes). And that’s it. Once you’re done, take a break — even if it’s a small one. Have a cup of tea, read a few pages of a book. And if you’re feeling ambitious, break out the timer again. But only for 15 minutes. Mentally, you’ll know that you need to immediately get into the decluttering zone, and that’ll make you even more productive. Let’s begin.
KITCHEN. Start here, and with the dishes. Wash them or put them into the dishwasher and run it. Clean the sink, then wipe it down. Then wipe down your counters. A simple rag with water will do the trick in many cases — unless the counters are super dirty, in which case use whichever cleaning product you prefer. Spritz the counters, wipe them down. Same goes with the top of the oven: Spritz it down with cleaning product, and then wipe. A magic eraser will work wonders here — especially on any spills. Have extra time? Grab your broom or swiffer and give the floor a sweep. Feeling ambitious? Clean the floor further with a mop or wet swiffer.
MAIL. Let’s talk mail next, as oftentimes it can pile up on kitchen counters or the kitchen table. You’ll need to get yourself to a place where you sort it as it comes in — recycle anything that can be recycled, shred anything with sensitive information on it, and file anything that’s important. If you have a huge mound of mail that you’re dreading going through, do that in 15-minute increments as well. You can do it while watching a show or movie, or listening to some good music or podcasts. Consider switching over to digital as much as possible: Switch over as many bills as possible to electronic and cancel paper bill options. Cancel mail-order subscriptions by calling or emailing customer service. There are also various ways to put a global stop to mailing catalogs; do an online search to see what is available in your country. You’ll be amazed how quickly your mailbox becomes less jammed full, and how much less you have to sort through each day.
BATHROOM. If your bathroom counters are overflowing with various products, it’s time to make a few choices. Pick out the products that you use every single day, and have those be the only ones that are out on the counters. Use baskets or trays to sort and organize. For the rest: Either put the products away into cabinets, or decide that they’ve outlived their stay, and toss them. If they’re unused or mostly full, consider donating them: Shelters and the like will often put out calls for such items.
Next up: Grab some cleaning product and a bunch of clean rags. Windex the mirror; rub it down. Spritz your counters and sink with product, wipe those down. Same goes for the toilet (but never reuse whatever rags or brushes you use there elsewhere). If you have time or are on your next round: Sweep, then wet clean the floor. Put used towels into the laundry bin and hang fresh ones.
BEDROOM. Start with making your bed if it’s not already made. Chances are it’s the largest piece of furniture in that room, and having a nice, neat bed will automatically make a world of a difference. Pick up any clothes or items that are on the floor. Then tackle your nightstand: Figure out what should be on there, what has been sitting there for ages but shouldn’t be, and straighten out the items that remain.
Next up: Tackle your bedroom closet. Hang clothes that should be hung. Fold clothes that need folding. Pick up anything that’s on the floor that doesn’t need to be. Then take some time to think about closet organization solutions: If you’re a DIY’er, time to do some googling on ways to organize your jewelry, shoes, scarves, purses, you name it: The most important thing is to get those items grouped together, and hanging in some way that’s both organized and will give you easy access. Same goes for shoes: You can build or buy a variety of items that will store these. Don’t forget a good option for boots, which can take up lots of space.
LIVING ROOM. Here, we’ll start with the couch. Anything that’s on it that doesn’t need to be should go into its proper home. Fluff up those pillows, wipe off crumbs. Set up baskets on coffee tables that can hold remote controls, toys, books. Lastly, do a quick vacuum or sweep.
ENTRYWAY. The space where we enter our homes can often be among the messiest: It’s tempting to fling off coats and boots as soon as we walk in the door. But if you have hooks or hangers readily available for coats, it’ll be just as fast to hang up outerwear. Have baskets or trays available for keys, gloves, sunglasses, any small items in your pockets. A mat for shoes will keep them in one place and stop you from tracking in any dirt from the outside. And there are plenty of DYI options for shelving and storage that are worth looking into if your entryway needs a bit more work.
Remember: 15 minutes. It’s doable. Ready, set, go!