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Maintaining a clean and tidy house doesn’t have to be difficult. Taking the time to do a quick 15 minute daily decluttering will the mess buildup and help you hone your organization style.
I’m not a big fan of the three boxes (Keep, Donate, Throw Away) system when decluttering. Because we work in small areas, like a drawer at a time, boxes are unnecessary. You can quickly put things away and hand carry away the items you’re getting rid of.
When it comes to daily decluttering, it’s another story.
You will want to work quickly, spending no more than 15 minutes, to declutter your house at the end of the day and a simple 2 box approach can help you be efficient in daily decluttering.
We’re not talking about going through drawers and cabinets. If your home has been completely decluttered and you have good organizations systems in place, you only need to focus on the surfaces – counters, large pieces of furniture, and floors.
5 Steps To 15 Minute Daily Decluttering
1. Label 2 boxes.
1 with “Put Away” and the other with “Get Rid Of.” They don’t need to be large and you’ll want to keep them in a closet or the garage to use regularly.
2. Begin in the kitchen (trust me on this).
Anything that belongs in the kitchen, but is where it shouldn’t be, gets put away in its proper place or in the dishwasher.
Pick up anything that does not belong in the kitchen and put it in its proper box. If you’re near the trash can, it’s fine to just throw trash items directly there instead of the box.
3. Move on to the next room.
Let’s say it’s the living or family room. For large items that are out of place, like blankets, quickly fold them and put them in their designated basket. Put pillows, phones, and decorations back in their places.
Now, look around. Pick up shoes, magazines, books, toys, anything that is cluttering the room’s surfaces. Put them in the designated box.
If you picked up something in the kitchen that belongs in this room, take it out of the Put-Away box and place it where it should be.
4. Move on to the next room and repeat the process.
If you live in a two-story house and find bulky items, like shoes and books, as you go through the rooms, you can place them near the stairs to pick up when you get ready to go to the bedrooms.
Ideally, the Put-Away box is not getting too full because you’re at least partially emptying it as you get to the rooms where those items belong.
5. Circle back to the room you started in.
Ideally, that’s the kitchen. And once you’ve done your complete house, you’ll know why. Water glasses and multiple kitchen items migrate to bedrooms and other parts of the house! You may find plates and utensils under beds, multiple glasses in bathrooms, and empty snack packages on nightstands!
When you make the kitchen your starting and ending point, you should have nothing left but those things, leaving you only with a Trash box to empty.
As you do your rapid declutter, make a mental note of things you see every day and think about how you might solve that problem.
Does your husband absent-mindedly empty his pockets of change on the kitchen counter every day? Rather than changing an entrenched habit, put a change jar there and use it to save money for something fun!
If your kids do their homework at the kitchen island, have them earn their allowance by putting their completed work in their backpacks by the door.
How long did that 15 minute daily decluttering take you?
That’s a trick question, but it really shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes. Make a game of it and see how much faster you can be each time! Get your kids involved and race to see how fast you can do it and serve ice cream as a reward!
Mini Declutters To Do Once A Month
We live in our spaces, so it’s inevitable that we will create small messes. Let’s call them “lived in” areas of our homes. They shouldn’t be obsessed over but, once a month or so, you can do a quick mini decluttering of these areas to keep things from getting out of hand.
- Empty one shelf at a time and put the contents on your kitchen counter.
- Remove the shelf and wash it in the kitchen sink.
- Wash the walls of the fridge behind the shelf area.
- Dry and put the shelf back in.
- Discard old leftovers and any expired products.
- Wipe the bottom of jars clean and put back on the fridge shelf.
- Repeat for each shelf and drawer. Don’t forget the door shelves. Clean each as you go, and the back of the shelves & drawers areas too.
- Wipe the bottom of the inside fridge before finishing.
- Note on your weekly shopping list to replace important items.
- Wash and dry the kitchen counter.
- Move items back to their correct areas in the pantry
- Check open boxes for expiration dates and for how much is left. If you have teenagers, you’ll find several empty boxes.
- Be realistic about the foods you bought and that no one likes. Get rid of them.
- Once everything is organized again, sweep up the pantry floor (or wipe down the surfaces if your pantry is a kitchen cabinet.
- Because food in the freezer is stable for a long time, many people forget to go through it. But freezer burn can ruin opened packages and you may have a lot of duplicates.
- Take all the food out of the freezer and put it on your counter.
- Organize and separate by category – meat, fruit, vegetables, prepared foods.
- Wipe down any stains in the freezer
- If you have 6 bags of opened corn, take the freshest (latest expiration date) and empty it into a freezer-safe container. Don’t forget to label it. A simple post-it taped to the container works fine.
- Replace the food into the freezer and try to keep the categories on separate shelves. It’s much easier to see what meal you can make when you can locate the protein items all on one shelf.
Family Notice Board
- This may be a bulletin board, the front of your fridge, or a whiteboard. Wherever you write notes for your family notices and keep notices, menus or other misc. Items.
- If you keep a selection of menus from your favorite take-out places, consider putting them in a folder or drawer near the phone.
- Check the receipts, flyers or other dated items and see if you still need them. If you have flyers for upcoming events, make a decision to go and put the details in your planner.
- Toss greeting cards and file or throw away children’s artwork
- Have you acted on any of the notes or reminders on the board? Delete them if they’re no longer timely.
- Lastly, take a minute and make this pretty so that it is inviting to look at and draws everyone’s attention to the messages your family might leave for each other.
- Short & sweet – go through your older coupons regularly to discard expired ones.
- Cut out the coupons you need from the weekly flyers
- Make sure you have your coupons near where you keep your shopping list so you don’t forget to take them with you to the store.
- If your store does online coupons to be applied at the register, log in before going grocery shopping to have them added to your account.
- Unless you’ve been sick and generated used tissues, bags of cough drops and water glasses, this is an area that will need a minimum of tidying.
- Remove everything from your nightstand surface & wipe or polish the top.
- Replace the items you’ve previously decided belong there and move or throw away all others.
- Check drawers and shelves for things that might have been accidentally placed there
- After decluttering your entire house, this is a drawer that’s earned the right to a better name! If it typically contains the usual assortment of small, but necessary, things like rubber bands, string, a screwdriver or two, and various findings that you suspect belong to appliances or something important, this is really the utility area of your kitchen.
- All you really need to do is make sure the drawer is neat, with the contents compartmentalized to make it easy to find them. If you’ve been dropping things in there that can be moved to a designated space (screws to the garage bin that has others; loose change to the coin jar) do that now. Done!
Computer & Mobile Devices
- Look at each of your devices (phone, tablet, laptop) and see if you have unused apps cluttering them.
We often download an app for single use (like the Amazon Prime app so that we can be registered at Whole Foods for discounts – check that out if you haven’t already). Getting rid of these will free up space and increase speed in your electronic devices.
- Go through your photos and decide which are worth keeping. More importantly, delete the ones that aren’t.
When I’m in a hurry, I’ll take a screenshot of my shopping list scribbled on my whiteboard. Inevitably, I forget to erase it once I’m home again. Ditto with memes and funny posts I snap to pass on to friends.
- Look at your documents folder. Most people actually don’t use it much but your computer will frequently choose to save word-processing files there. Look at the folder and decide what to keep.
When I’m at my desktop, I move all important files from my documents folder (and my desktop) to a Trello board. Everything is perfectly filed and accessible but it doesn’t drain my computer resources.
- Consolidate your computer desktop folder as much as possible. Files within files will keep your desktop clean and organized.
For example, you could easily gather all family-related files (college loans info, wish lists, travel plans, special photos, etc could be filed by a family member) in a Family folder. Ditto with business and financial files. Again, more and more, I’m putting all of these things in a Family Trello board.
- If you’re not in the habit of backing up your electronic devices regularly, now’s a good time to start a new habit. At least once a month (weekly is much better), connect your device to your computer and follow the operating system’s method of backing up your data.
The best way to get your regular 15 Minute Daily Decluttering and Monthly Mini Declutter tasks done is to schedule them. Instead of waiting and allowing things to get out of control, give your hard work the respect it deserves and calendarizes the maintenance of the home you care for.
Would you like some quick wins? Download my free 50 Quick Decluttering Projects You Can Do In A Half Hour Or Less and see results beginning today!
Check out all the posts in the Decluttering series: