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How to Painlessly Declutter and Organize Your Home in 10 Minutes

If you think organizing your home or getting your personal affairs in order requires a lot of time, you might be right. However, if you feel that you just don’t have enough time to spend on these tasks, then you’re probably wrong. All you have to do is recognize little chunks of free time throughout the day.

This is the best idea ever. OK, perhaps that’s extreme. But as I contemplate, that idea — a simple tip shared by one of my dear EC readers — has profoundly affected my life; I cannot help but define it as Best Ever. I’ve taken her simple tip — figure out all the things you can get done in the time it takes to brew your morning coffee — and developed it into ways of organization that have genuinely changed my life.


Instead of staring out the window or fiddling with my phone during the three minutes it takes coffee to brew, I pour myself into a nearby task. It’s like, 1-2-3 GO! — me against Bunn.

The odds are always in my favor because I hate (read: refuse) to lose. Bunn? Could not care less! At first, I went easy on myself. I’d tidy up the coffee grinder or straighten the knives in the drawer. I could hear Bunn smirking because, of course, without defined parameters, I would get distracted and come in a distant second place. Losing is not my jam. Focus, you fool! Stop the nonsense and get with the game. (I’m laughing just telling you about this.)

Deciding to define every challenge in detail clearly is what gave me a fighting chance. For example: Empty, clean and organize the silverware drawer. Or clean and polish the sinks so they glisten.

I was pretty easy on myself with such simple challenges. I would keep an eye on the coffee pot to gauge my pace, effort and endurance. It didn’t take long until I was winning every race. That led to, “What more lofty challenges could you accomplish in three minutes?” Oh, let me tell you!

When I put my mind to it, I can empty and put away the clean contents of the dishwasher before the last gurgle. It’s close, but I load the dishwasher, including detergent, and press “Start” in a cool 180 seconds.

If I am 100% wide awake and in tip-top hustle mode, I can vacuum the entire kitchen floor, removing all crumbs and debris, while Bunn tries to beat me. Ha! Not a chance.

Once I realized what I could accomplish in three minutes, I expanded my mind and efforts to fill 10-minute chunks of time. This is amazing because I was definitely not born with this mindset. It’s something I have and continue to learn. It’s a forced attitude.

My natural self leans toward the philosophy that it takes at least a weekend to do anything of value. My weekends are all packed for the next few months, so that’s why the garage (closet, storage room, closet, you name it) is a mess. It’s not me; it’s time. I don’t have enough of it! And every time that attitude pops up, I have to beat it into submission. Ten minutes, I yell to myself! That’s all you need to do something fabulous. Set the timer and get to it!

It’s incredible how much I can accomplish in 10 minutes, mainly focusing on a tiny area. A drawer, a side table or a bathroom. And not only at home. I’m sure the car behind me at my grandsons’ school enjoys watching me clean all the flat surfaces inside my car as if I’m fighting a war or attempting to win a race. Well, yes!

Consider how often you’re presented with a 10-minute interval during the week: at a doctor’s appointment, picking up your children from school or cooking dinner. Instead of wasting what can add up to hours every day, start using that time to become more organized in just 10 minutes.

Clean your makeup brushes. Wash them with soap. Disinfect with rubbing alcohol. Allow drying while lying flat on a washcloth.

Create a spot for incoming mail. Make sure you have the tools in place to manage your mail when you walk in the door with it.

What’s on your coffee table that needs to be put away? Find a storage place for it and then make a note.

Get the picture? There are so many things we can reasonably accomplish in only 10 minutes if we set our minds and attitudes to it. Soon, these projects will cease to feel like isolated incidents. One kitchen drawer leads to more. The cupboards on either side will soon join the one neat and tidy cupboard. The sparkling clean microwave will be joined by its beautifully clean refrigerator. Surely, all the other appliances will follow.

You can read more about how maximizing 10-minute chunks of time has changed my life at

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Mary Hunt

Mary invites you to visit her at, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at, "Ask Mary." Tips can be submitted at . This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."

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