Ten uncluttering tasks you can do in five minutes or less

Do you use a “down time” list? I used one often when I worked in the corporate world. It was a list of things I could work on when I finished my usual responsibilities. Now, several years later, I use a similar list, though it usually has things that I can do in five minutes or less.

One of the challenges many people often face is finding the time to unclutter. Everyone’s busy and has full schedules as well as other things they’d rather be doing. To combat the dread you might be feeling when it’s time to get things in order or to stop the mad dash when you’re looking for something, create a list of things you can get done in just a few short minutes until they become regular habits. To help you get started, consider adding these 10 things that you can do in 300 seconds to your daily or weekly routine.

  • Use hooks. Hooks take very little time to install and they can be used just as quickly. Instead of putting your clothes on a chair (or other flat surface), hang them on a hook.
  • Purge your hanger stash. Hangers that are laying on the closet floor are not being put to good use. Remove them to free up your space and refuse them when they are offered to you at the store. Most dry cleaners have hanger recycling bins, so give your local dry cleaners a call to see if you can drop off your extras there.
  • Delete unnecessary duplicates. Where can you check for multiples of the same thing? Your smart phone (contacts, apps), pantry, spice cabinet, and closet are great places to look for duplicates you can delete (or donate).
  • Gather your stuff the night before. Put everything you need to have for the next day (keys, wallet, mobile phone, ID badge, glasses, etc.) all in one spot so that you can find them easily.
  • Remove junk mail before it gets inside your house. When you remove junk mail before it gets inside your home or office, you can spend your time focusing on the important items. Keep a recycling bin and shredder near the main entryway of your home for easy junk-mail disposal.
  • Take something with you. Whether you’re in your car or in your home, before you leave an area, take something that doesn’t belong with you and put it away.
  • Organize your wallet. Take a look in your wallet and remove anything that you don’t need to frequently access.
  • Unsubscribe from unwanted junk email. The beauty of unsubscribing is that it takes very little time to have your name removed from emailing lists. Simply click on the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the junk emails you no longer wish to receive.
  • Say no to freebies. Unless that free item (like a gift you get when you make a purchase) is something that you or someone in your family uses regularly, it will likely end up cluttering your space. Of everything on this list, saying “no” to freebies is perhaps the quickest thing you can do.
  • Keep a donation box in your home. A great place for a donation bag or box is inside your closet or laundry area for clothing that no longer fit or flatter you. Donation boxes can work well for other things, like toys, so pick a room, and take five minutes to select things you can give away.

20 Comments for “Ten uncluttering tasks you can do in five minutes or less”

  1. posted by Debbie V. on

    I like these :)

  2. posted by Jessyca on

    Some of these are so simple, de-cluttering my purse and duplicate pictures on my phone… I can do that on the bus! Also I really like the ‘Take Something With You’ idea.

  3. posted by Jon on

    These are great suggestions! I especially like the one about junk mail. I have never thought about moving the shredder out into the garage…which is where I almost go through to get the mail. That would be a large, ugly, sometimes messy object that might be more useful in the garage to stop the ‘too shred’ pile that sometimes builds up. Thanks for another great post!

  4. posted by George E. on

    While you brush your teeth, you can look through drawers and medicine cabinet. Look for duplicates you can donate and expired items that you can dispose of.

  5. posted by Jim Deitzel on

    This year I’m determined to get off of all the newsletters that come into my work email that I never signed up for.

    If unsubscribe doesn’t work I’ll create a rule to send them to the trash.

    I’m also a fan of not bringing junk mail into the house. I walk by my recycling bin before I come in the door and dump all the junk. No more kitchen counter clutter.

  6. posted by Lori on

    These are great tips!

    In concert with Take Something With You, I have items stored near my purse, clearly marked with the name of the person I need to return them to.

    When I leave with my handbag, I’m forced to see the names of people I need to return things to, and consider if I am going to see them on this particular trip outside the house.

    It also reminds me to keep in touch with people I don’t see often enough if the item’s been there for a little while.

  7. posted by Mary Anne in Kentucky on

    I wish you’d rephrase the wallet advice. I don’t need to access my AAA card or my insurance card frequently, but when I do, it needs to be there.

  8. posted by Domestic Concierge on

    Donating is the way to go. Reduce your own clutter and give back to those in need. Win win!

  9. posted by Roberta on

    Very good list – I’ve marked this post for daily reference.
    One thing I do now is take trash and donations out everytime I leave the house: I have a box in my car for donations.
    The shredder idea is awesome; as a dog rescuer, please, have the shredder turned OFF and UNPLUGGED until you go to use it. Dogs’ tongues have been shredded and they need to be euthanized :(.
    Thanks again for reminding me why I keep this blog coming into my inbox!

  10. posted by Monica on

    I’ve had a permanent donation box by my front door for about two months now. It’s been so helpful but it’s also embarrassing how it fills up almost weekly. It’s a cardboard box. I load it up onto the car and drop it off just like that. I ask my husband to bring me a new box from work. It’s challenging to see it empty!

  11. posted by MJ Ray on

    Never click unsubscribe on junk mail – it just confirms that your address works, so some will sell your address to other spammers.

    Jim had the right idea – create a move to trash rule. If your mail server lets you, create a rule to reject the mail as undelivered – but don’t use an autoreply/out of office as that confirms your address too.

  12. posted by purpleBee on

    There are all really good ideas. Though I agree with Mary Anne about keeping cards needed in emergencies in ones wallet.

    I keep a small, deep tray in the fridge and put items that are mostly-used in it, like sauce bottles with just a little sauce left in them. Then I can quickly find the things I need to use to clear the leftovers … or unclutter the fridge quickly.

  13. posted by purpleBee on

    **sigh** that’s meant to read “These are all really good ideas.”

    I wonder if I can unclutter my typing

  14. posted by De on

    These are really good. I like to have hooks everywhere!

    Something to consider on rejecting freebies. In the Tightwad Gazette, Amy Daczyzn suggests never saying no to freebies. She says if you take everything offered, then donate what you can’t use, people will keep offering you things, and there will inevitably be things you need. But she was speaking from the angle of spending as little money as possible while raising several children, and lives in a large farmhouse with an attached barn. Those of us not blessed with space would have to be really diligent about donating to make that tactic work.

  15. posted by susan on

    I like these kinds of simple tips. One thing I do when I am watching a show in the evening is go to the kitchen during a 60 sec commercial and count 10 things to put away before my show starts. Putting away 10 things several times during my program clears up my kitchen and I can watch Gray’s Anatomy guilt free.
    I do the take something with you often. I have a 2 story house and always have something to go up or down.
    I turn down freebies except what I know can be used by others. People always seem to give out the little hand sanitizer bottles. I take them to the no kill shelter where I volunteer so we can use them between handling different dogs.

  16. posted by lady brett on

    we have a donation box rule: every time we buy diapers, we fill the box the diapers came in with stuff to donate (we have a nicer box for storing the diapers, but it’s nice to put the donate stuff in a box you don’t need back).

  17. posted by Sabz on

    I take all junk/garbage out of the car every time we return home. This one simple step has ensured that my car is always neat. If there is a spill/crumbs from eating on the road, a quick swipe of cleaning wipe prevents it from becoming a sticky mess. This one, less than 5 minute step is a must-do IMO.

    Great tips. The Simple Dollar directed me here and I’m glad to have found your site. Thanks.

  18. posted by Tovah on

    I am always cluttered. I hate it and yet I don’t know how to work with it.

    As soon as I start to clean up, I can’t find anything. It almost seems easier to just leave it as it is.lol.

    Great points though!

  19. posted by WilliamB on

    I am a big fan of hooks. Not only are they easy to use but things on hooks don’t need to be arranged to look nice. A towel just dumped on a rack looks messy. A towel just dumped on a hook looks as it should.

  20. posted by Bryan on

    Take something with you is a key one for me but I do it in bite sized chunks. For example I come home from the store with toiletries for the bathroom upstairs. When I finish putting groceries away, these get set down on the side of the first couple steps. Next time I go upstairs for something, they come with me to the shelf at the top of the stairs, and make their way to the bathroom in short order later that night when I head in to get ready for bed.

    It keeps the clutter out of other areas of the house without making unnecessary trips up and down stairs just to put things away.

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