Three uncluttering activities you can complete in five minutes or less

Do you have five minutes? If so, try one (or more) of these quick uncluttering tasks:

  1. Check the expiration dates on all the food in your refrigerator and freezer. Is anything past its prime? Has something been lingering for longer than it should? Check out and/or call the manufacturer’s customer service line if you have any questions about a food stuff’s safety. Toss any food that could potentially poison you and your family.
  2. Help your child to gather all the tiny parts of his toys that often get lost or fall to the bottom of their toy chests. Once you have the items collected, use zip-top bags to store these itty bitty pieces. Put doll shoes in one bag and single Lego Blocks in another. Label the bags with a permanent marker and store all the zip-top bags in a basket or bin.
  3. Walk through your living or working space and return as many out-of-place objects as you can to their proper storage place. Set a timer and get moving. Any items that don’t belong or lack a permanent home, decide if you can get rid of them (trash, recycle, donate) or if you need to make room in your home and/or office for the object. When the timer sounds at the end of five minutes, return to your regular activities.

Were you surprised by how much you were able to accomplish in such a short amount of time? What uncluttering tasks do you tackle in five minutes? Tell us your ideas in the comments.

30 Comments for “Three uncluttering activities you can complete in five minutes or less”

  1. posted by William Womack on

    Another task I like to do that cleanses my mind (and takes less than 5 minutes) is to purge my inbox. It’s great opening up my mail client and seeing an empty slate… ; )

    Good post!

  2. posted by Michele on

    I like to unclutter the bathroom while I brush my teeth. For two minutes I put things back and check expiration dates. I also check to see if we have run out of things to add to the list on my office door. It’s amazing what you can get done in 2 minutes AND my teeth actually get a good scrubbing too!

  3. posted by Keetha on

    Yesterday I was able to dust my bedroom and get started on cleaning the bathroom in the time it took for water to come to boil for pasta. Amazing.

    Loading or unloading the dishwasher can also be done in less than five minutes. Then it’s DONE and that feels so good.

  4. posted by becoming minimalist on

    1. clear my desk before i leave work – makes tomorrow’s start a fresh one.

    2. sort/remove all of the papers/mail that ends up on the top of our fridge.

    3. clear off all the surfaces in our bedroom (dresser and nightstand).

  5. posted by PS~Erin on

    Oh, it helps so much to break it down like this. Thanks for the ideas!

  6. posted by Dad is in the House on

    I’ve been kind of timing myself lately. Yesterday I swept the kitchen floor in 5 minutes (have a toddler so that’s important to keep up with). I also folded and put away 1 load in 5 minutes.

  7. posted by Vicki K on

    This small thing makes a big difference in my day – cleaning out my bag/purse. Just getting all the papers and receipts in their proper places and out of the way makes the whole day smoother.

  8. posted by Susan in FL on

    @breaking – LOL 2. sort/remove all of the papers/mail that ends up on the top of our fridge. LOL
    I am short – anything on top of my fridge is way above my line of sight and might be there over 6 months before I get out a ladder to wipe off the dust.

  9. posted by *m* on

    I like to pull out a file folder or two from the file drawers next to my desk and see if there’s anything in it I can purge. An especially good job for the winter months, as we use some of the purged paper to start fires in the fireplace.

  10. posted by Jan - queenofkaos on

    I like to use this concept when I am watching tv during the commercials – I liked it so much that I started dedicating the 2 hour spot on Wed nights when we get it to a decluttering project during commercials on the show.

    Fantastic! Except now they are mostly playing reruns so it isn’t so good – I am hoping that they put on some that I haven’t seen soon!

    I also find it useful to clean the fridge while waiting for the kettle to boil or clean my desk while waiting for a page to load instead of clicking around.

  11. posted by Lori on

    It’s amazing how much I can get done in the kitchen while waiting for the kettle to boil and my tea to steep. Load the dishwasher, wash the table, scrub the sink, empty the recycling. Anything to reduce the amount of time I have to spend cleaning up after supper…

  12. posted by Mrs H-B on

    I unclutter the bookshelf in our entry way–put the dog accoutrements back in their basket, shred any mail, hang keys up, put things back where they belong.

    I clear off our coffee and end tables–put the remotes away, throw out any trash, and dust them quickly.

    I just started doing a lot of 2-5-minute uncluttering activities and am shocked by how quickly the house comes back together.

  13. posted by Matt at How To Get A Grip on

    Brilliant examples here of what can be done using the Eight Minute Rule.

    The little tasks are the ones that build up and you get a boom and bust cycle of activity and sloth …

  14. posted by Sky on

    When I get home I always take grab anything that doesn’t belong in my car and take it inside or put it where it belongs. Trash, water bottle, etc.

    Before I go to bed, I tidy up the living room, make sure the kitchen is clean and everything put away and set the trash bag in the garage for my husband to toss in the trash can when he leaves in the morning. It starts the next day off right.

    Making up my bed and wiping over the bathroom only takes 5 minutes and it’s nice to come home to.

  15. posted by Amandine on

    Scoop the litter boxes.
    Wash the kitchen window, or the window my dog likes to wipe his nose on…..oh, I mean, look out of.
    Update the family bulletin board, take down old items.
    Start the grocery list.
    Call to make an appointment.
    Straighten up a drawer, or shelf.

    I feel like I do a million little jobs like this over the period of a week. I try to do “a little bit, often” to keep on top of everything. Steadily it’s all coming together and getting easier.

  16. posted by Shel on

    I love this topic! Five minutes is usually the difference between me feeling organized or not, because it’s the critical PREPARATION time for me. =)

    In addition to the fridge duty, which I try to accomplish every few weeks on trash night, here are my prep tasks that help me feel clutter-free in life:

    1. Put away the sweaters and other things accumulating on a bench in my bedroom. The last thing I want to do before bed is undress AND hang up stuff, so the 5 minute catch-up gets me to sleep on time.

    2. Clean out trash from the car. This works best when I am not running late, and have just parked, and don’t want to turn off the radio just yet. 😉

    3. Get the coffee ready for the next day. It feels like it takes ten times longer to do it in the morning!

    4. Stretch and deep breathe. My body thanks me every day I do it.

  17. posted by Shel on

    One more thing…isn’t it also important to be sure to keep it to just five minutes? How easy it is to stretch that five into ten, thirty, etc., and there went the time I could have had with my kids or my husband.

    Anything cluttery is worth tolerating when you have more time with those you love.

  18. posted by Dawn F. on

    Great post and interesting comments!

    In 15 minutes you could make your bed in the morning (what a perfect way to start the day), clean out your purse and unload the dishwasher.

  19. posted by Susie on

    I dedicate two hours out of every weekend to cleaning out one drawer, cupboard, closet (small one), desk, file cabinet, etc…it gives me a period of mindless time in which to think, or relax my mind, whatever I need and it effectively keeps all my “underwraps” clean and tidy..never a big chore of “have to clean the kitchen cupboards” again!

  20. posted by Dia on

    Some great suggestions! This AM I wiped a counter & cleared off some things while waiting for tea/ getting a green smoothie put together.
    I’ve also been working on clearing out the car when I get home – left orange peels in today as a ‘deodorizer’ & will toss them in the compost in the AM.
    Empty the compost, the recycling (I keep a bag in the kitchen & small waste paper baskets around the house for the recycling) & the garbage.
    Wash dishes on the ’24 hour dish rule’ (I live alone, so rarely run the dishwasher, try not to let the dishes build up!)

  21. posted by Lydia on

    My husband and I are super competitive, so we’ll start our watch timers for 10 minutes, and see who can accomplish more within that time frame. Of course I always win, but we’re usually too focused on the competition to realize time has passed, and we’ve decluttered a bit!

  22. posted by Samantha on

    I am no gardener but have started a process of “clutter-weeding”. At any time I’ll choose to focus on one little area around the house and critically consider what is there. I have a bag or box for the charity shop and unwanted/unused/unloved stuff either goes in there or is thrown away. But just a little bit at a time, most days. It’s working for me!

  23. posted by Sue on

    One clutter-creator I discovered was that some things did not have a “home”.

    DH was fussing because he couldn’t find a jump drive and I KNEW we owned multiples. I found a glass fishbowl, and whenever an orphan drive is found, it gets tossed in the bowl.

  24. posted by Nadia on

    One thing I found easy and efficient is to have a routine in the morning. Always do the same things in the same order before I leave the bathroom and the bedroom.

  25. posted by MAH on

    5 minutes: go thru wallet and purge old receipts and lists.

    About ziplock bags for kids’ toys: be careful about using plastic bags around little children–they can be a suffocation hazard. A little shoebox might be better.

  26. posted by Laetitia in Australia on

    I have no particular examples regarding what can be done in 5 minutes but I am often amazed at what can be done in 10 seconds to a minute (basically how long it takes to heat various things in the microwave) such as clearing the kitchen table, filling the kettle for a cup of tea, taking something back to its place in another room…

  27. posted by Suzanne on

    Great ideas. I love to see inspiration to make the most of the little moments…as they do inspire further action that wouldn’t have happened if nothing had been done at all.

    When I am putting away the dishes, I look at the shelf where I am putting the item to see if there is anything there that I no longer want, use, need or love? If so, I take it out and put it in the bag where I accumulate items to give to a charity.

    When my kids (5 and 8 years old) are putting away clothes or toys on a weekend, I ask them to see if there is anything they want to share with someone else. They have been taught to clear clutter as much as possible and usually something ends up being put into the charity bag.

    During a car trip, I attempt to put anything that needs to go into the house with me (trash, water bottles that need to be refilled, a cast-off jacket, etc.) on the passenger side (specifically on the seat for things like clothing or smaller items and the floorboard for trash, etc.) When I go in, I gather and go. I really like doing this little bit of clutter-clearing to keep the car looking better overall.

    One of the best things I’ve tried to instill in my husband and kids, the messies of this house, is to “look behind you”…to look behind them as they are leaving an area to see what needs to be thrown away or put away. Always nice to leave the area looking tidy instead of having to do it later. There’s only so much later and there’s always something else to do!

  28. posted by ml on

    @Shel – when it’s time for a new coffee maker, I suggest one with a timer to turn itself on in the morning. It’s extra incentive to set it up the night before.It’s a simple thing, but knowing all I have to do is pour makes it easier a lot easier to get out of bed.

  29. posted by Sassy on

    We are finally getting episodes of Hoarders in Australia, and the episode on last week was Jill the hoarder of expired food.

    I was so shocked and revolted I immediately went through and threw away everything that was out of date and looked even slightly dodgy.

    I was horrified to see that in my own cupboard and fridge there were quite a few items I could throw out, and I thought I was good……


  30. posted by terriok on

    Teach the little ones how to close the ziplocs. They often need to be shown how.

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