Ten things to do in 10 minutes

I get frustrated when I work for eight hours straight and then finish the day feeling like I haven’t accomplished anything. It is as if I have been a hamster in a wheel, running nowhere. It’s times like these when I seek out small tasks that I can finish quickly to feel some sense of productivity. Often, too, small tasks are all that I can handle because I’m exhausted.

If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, feel welcome to tackle one (or more) of the following 10 uncluttering tasks you can do in 10 minutes:

  • Organize your sock drawer. Get rid of socks that are hole-ridden, stained, or without mates.
  • Clean out the cupboard under your kitchen sink. I’m not sure why, but in my home this is where all of my “I don’t want to deal with this right now” kitchen items land.
  • Round up all of your pet’s toys. My cats like to swat their toys under dressers and into closets. Once a week, I walk around the house with a yard stick, retrieve all of their toys, and return them to their toy basket.
  • Sort through your magazines. Decide which ones can stay and which ones should go.
  • Clear out your “to be watched” list. Check your favorites list on your Amazon Video, Netflix, and other streaming services accounts. Delete the movies and TV series you’ll never watch.
  • Start a load of laundry. Laundry and I are in a constant battle, and usually Laundry is winning.
  • Sit in silence and do nothing. I often forget to take time out of my day just to sit, collect my thoughts, and relax. Uncluttering my mind is just as important as uncluttering my home.
  • Straighten out the trunk of your car. Right now, there is a stack of wood in the trunk of my car. I remember how it got there six months ago, but I don’t know why it is still in there. It needs to find a different home.
  • Pull all of the extra hangers out of your closets. Hangers are like tribbles. They seem to appear out of thin air. I put mine in a grocery sack, toss the sack into my car, and then drop them off at the dry cleaner’s the next time I’m running errands.
  • Post a Freecycle ad. Find one thing you’ve been meaning to get rid of in your home, and create a Freecycle post for it.

Feel welcome to drop suggestions for 10 minute projects into the comments section–we would love to hear your ideas.


This post has been updated since its original publication in 2007.

21 Comments for “Ten things to do in 10 minutes”

  1. posted by Misty on

    Clean out your fridge.
    Clean one of your sinks.

  2. posted by lesliet on

    – Clean out your email inbox
    – Bundle all your newspapers and magazines for recycling.
    – Sort through one drawer or shelf, being really serious about what things you actually need and use and what things can be tossed.
    – Evaluate your “books to be read” pile. Get rid of the any books that have been sitting in it for 6 months – if you haven’t read it yet, realistically, you’ll probably never get to it.

    PS: Misty, you must be a Flylady person. I tried it, but never understood the whole “cleaning sinks” emphasis. Good luck to you, though.

  3. posted by LizMo on

    Tackle the ironing pile – if you are like me it piles up, so get it all done at once! You’ll also feel like you have new clothes (mine sit for weeks!)

    Do some mending – I also have a large pile of clothes that need a bit of mending (a button, seam repair, etc.)

  4. posted by Eric on

    “Organize your sock drawer.” – and never have sex again!


  5. posted by zenparadox on

    I set my microwave timer for 10 minutes and see how much I can accomplish before it goes off. Better yet, I race my S.O. to see who can get the most done in 10 minutes. He’s so competitive that it’s a great way to get him to do housework. I imagine this would work with small children, too.

  6. posted by Anonymous on

    I used to be a person with messy counters, a sink full of dirty dishes, general mess everywhere.

    Then I decided to see how much I could get done while waiting for the kettle to boil and a cup of tea to steep, or a pot of coffee to brew, or some other “waiting around” kind of time. When the tea is ready, etc., I walk away.

    I found out that the problem was thinking everything had to get done at once and feeling overwhelmed. I’m surprised to say that I’m never more than 5 minutes away from a clean and uncluttered kitchen or living room.

    Using little bits of time has made all the difference in my quality of life.

    Now if I could just find a way to make this work in my bedroom…

  7. posted by Tuppenz on

    re the Recharge Station – why is this shown next to a jar of pencils which have never been sharpened? Can you imagine trying to take a message and reaching for one of these pencils.

  8. posted by Kev-N on


    I’m going to miss Veronica Mars so very much as well! Thanks for 10 more ideas to de-clutter!


  9. posted by Nat on

    I too subscribe to the do something while waiting in the kitchen for the coffee, microwave, kettle, etc. For us, it’s usually emptying or loading the dishwasher, giving the counter a good wipedown or emptying the compost bucket or garbage.

  10. posted by Monica Ricci on

    Erin, this is one of the fundamental concepts I teach in my workshops. I call it “Tiny Time” (and I always end up typing “Tiny TIM” on the first go-round). It’s so true though! You can do SO MUCH in very small chunks of time… even in 30 or 60 seconds, if you just pay attention to what’s in your environment. Good post!

  11. posted by Eric on

    For me, using the GTD 2-minute rule (“If it will take less than 2 minutes, do it right now”) has resulted in a string of tiny victories every day.

    Recently I had a candle on my counter that had outstayed its welcome. And about twenty times I looked at that candle and thought, “Damn, I’ve been meaning to throw that candle away.” (I am that bad a procrastinator.) After reading about the 2-minute rule, next time I saw that candle, instead of thinking “I should throw that away,” I just threw it away.

    It sounds ridiculous even to me as I type it out, but that 5 seconds of work actually resulted in a small sense of accomplishment!

    Much of the clutter in my surroundings results from things I’m just leaving there until I get around to dealing with it later. But I’m gradually starting to pierce through that, not with marathon cleaning binges (though I did have one of those this weekend), but by those 5 second acts that can be accomplished in between the things I’m actually doing.

    Disclaimer: I haven’t even read GTD yet, I just read ABOUT it, and the 2-minute rule really resonated.

  12. posted by Eric on

    Oh, I also miss Veronica Mars. Damn you, CW!

  13. posted by jazzle on

    driving around with the weight of that wood in your car not only increases your emissions, but also your fuel bills.

    zenparadox, I hope you had your microwave on the lowest power setting. next time, just use the tiner on your “cell” phone.

  14. posted by mercurial scribe on

    Excellent post. Which reminds me to set the coffee maker for tomorrow morning…

  15. posted by Eric on

    Jazzie — My microwave has a kitchen timer feature, that serves as a timer without emitting a single microwave. I figure that’s what zenparadox is using too…

  16. posted by Andrea on

    Uncluttering while waiting for something works well in the yard too… weeding while waiting for everyone one else to get ready to leave works wonders.

  17. posted by Nic on

    When my mind is cluttered with these tasks I like to write them out one per index card. When I find that I have a few minutes to do 1 task, I just pick a card from the pile and do that task. And that task alone. This way I never feel overwhelmed having to do too much at one time and my list of things to do gets whittled down

  18. posted by Nancy on

    You can also try listing your stuff on Craigslist in its “Free” section. Less hassle than Freecycle.

  19. posted by blacknotebook on

    If I have a few minutes spare I go to my Documents folder on my Mac and delete stuff that I don’t need any more (particulalry downloads from Safari). Its amazing how this stuff can build up if you don’t do your “housekeeping”.

    “Tidy Mac, Tidy Mind”

  20. posted by Cha on

    Sort through your makeup and get rid of stuff you don’t use.
    Cleqn out the trunk of your car.
    Empty al the trash cans in the house (I have a trash can in every room—helps keep clutter down in each room).
    Boil white vinegar in your microwave for 5 minutes, then give the inside a good wipe down…you’ll be amazed how clean it will be.
    Clean out the fridge of all old, outdated food and wipe off shelves with Chlorox Wipes.

  21. posted by Barb on

    Shred the credit card offers that came in the mail that week or any other documents you need to get rid of that contain personal info.

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