If you're short on time, targeting your efforts to a specific organization task can work wonders for overall decluttering in your home. Try these tasks -- which can be done in as little as five minutes - to start conquering clutter and set you on a path to better organization.
If you have 5 minutes: Put away anything on the countertops, and pull the shower curtain closed to conceal any bathtub clutter.
If you have 10 minutes: Straighten any open displays, and relocate items that don't belong in the bathroom. Don't worry about what's behind closed doors.
If you have 15 minutes: Dive into the vanity cabinet and any other storage space. Toss items that are outdated or unused. Corral items by type into baskets or bins.
An organized junk drawer is not an oxymoron. See how to get this catchall spot organized in a jiffy.
If you have 10 minutes: Stack and store items as they are, but align rows of cans and boxes for a neatened appearance.
If you have 15 minutes: Regroup food by item type. Toss anything that is expired. Wipe away any spills or dirt on shelves.
Take an hour and... Pull everything out of the pantry and do a deep reorganization. Look at your pantry configuration and what you need to store to determine what should go where. Keep the items you use frequently in the most accessible places. Give the shelves a good scrubbing before re-placing items. As you put things away, make a list of any storage accessories (such as trays or baskets) that would make your storage more efficient, and keep your eyes peeled for those items when you are out and about.
See why open shelving can work wonders in a pantry and how it can help you keep clutter at bay.
If you have 5 minutes: Take a quick glance at the place where you stash all your important reminders, such as a bulletin board, magnet board, or refrigerator. Pull down anything that you immediately see as outdated or no longer needed.
If you have 10 minutes: Dig a little deeper if your message center is overflowing. Spend a little more time going through the items.
If you have 15 minutes: Take everything off the message center and sort into piles: keep on the board (telephone numbers, etc.), move elsewhere (paid bills, pictures, etc.), and toss (anything you don't need).
If you have 5 minutes: Separate lids and containers into their own spots.
If you have 10 minutes: Organize lids and containers by size.
If you have 15 minutes: Pull out the lone lids or containers. Pair up lids and containers that match, and discard anything that doesn’t have a match. Place the items back in an organized fashion.
If you have 10 minutes: Straighten books, and dust the very edges of the shelves and any items on display that look dusty.
If you have 15 minutes: Do a quick sort. Recycle magazines that are out-of-date. Pull books that you know at a glance need to be donated. Dust the shelf edges and around empty space, and move display items to dust around and under them.
Take an hour and... Pull everything from the shelves. In addition to recycling magazines and pulling books to be donated, reorganize books in alphabetical order, by subject, by color, etc. Dust the full shelves before placing books back in their rightful spots.
If you have 5 minutes: Simply straighten the insides of your most disorganized or most frequently accessed cabinets and drawers. Bringing order to the things you use most often will make daily routines easier.
If you have 10 minutes: Spend a little time doing the organizational tasks you always think about when you're cooking but don't have time to do in the moment, such as relocating your cooking utensils to a drawer closer to your range.
Take an hour and... Do a quick sort-and-toss. Put items you never use into a donation box, and toss gadgets that no longer work or are past their prime.
If you have 5 minutes: Hang up clothes that are draped over your designated drop spot, such as on a chair.
If you have 10 minutes: Reorganize the hanging bar in your closet by item type, placing all of your shirts in one section, pants in another, etc.
If you have 15 minutes: After you organize the hanging bar, target one other area, such as the top shelf or the floor of your closet. Come back as you have time, such as five minutes before hitting the hay, to organize the next section until you've worked through the whole closet.
If you have 5 minutes: Straighten up the shoes and coats.
If you have 10 minutes: Entryways, as coming-and-going spots, tend to collect more than their fair share of clutter. Do a quick cleanup, and return items to their rightful places.
Take an hour and... Hang hooks or pegs to give coats and bags a home that isn't the floor.
If you have 10 minutes: Place earrings and rings in small divided trays and bracelets and bulkier necklaces in shallow bowls. (Delicate necklaces are easily tangled and should be hung up or laid aside, if you're in a hurry.)
If you have 15 minutes: Do a purge and sort, eliminating things you no longer wear.
Take an hour... Hang fabric-covered memo boards for hanging necklaces. Place a piece of grating in another frame and hang earrings from the grill.
If you have 10 minutes: Grab a laundry basket and toss in any large items that are on the floor or taking up space on the shelves.
If you have 15 minutes: Grab three bins and sort by the most commonly present items. For example, if it’s a front-entry closet, designate one bin for hats and mittens, one bin for outdoor gear such as umbrellas and dog leashes, and one bin for everything else.
Take an hour and... Install an organization aid that will streamline the closet storage. If you have a lot of outerwear to store, consider adding a second closet rod or hooks on the back of the door. If you need to organize shoes, make room for a tiered shoe rack on the floor.
If you have 10 minutes: Make a game of it. Challenge your child to pick up as many items as possible in five minutes. If you have little ones who aren’t old enough to pick up, spend a few minutes before they go to bed picking up a few things.
If you have 15 minutes: Target one area to clean up, such as a disorganized dresser, a messy desk, or a haphazard bookcase.
Take an hour and... Pick an area that needs a purge, such as a toy collection or the clothing closet. If your child is old enough, have him or her work with you to identify items that can be donated or tossed if they are broken or no longer usable.
Pick up anything that doesn't belong in the living room and return it to the right spot. Or sort through magazines and toss outdated periodicals in the recycling.
Transfer DVDs to a CD case for more compact storage. Stash the cases elsewhere if you want to hang on to them.
Focus on frequency of use. Everyday tools need barrier-free access while the rest can be tucked away. Use adjustable trays or dividers for even better organization. Each compartment should hold only one type of tool, one layer deep.
Keep the area neat by storing only one paper towel roll and tidy up each time you replace it. Old media caddies are the perfect size for movable kits filled with cleaners and scrubbing tools. Stash one beneath your sink so you're ready for a quick clean.
Sequence supplies. Position toiletries in a drawer, bin, or cabinet based on the order you use them.
If you're really short on time, take just five minutes to see these tasks through.
Sort through the pens, markers, and pencils in your junk drawer. Test all of the utensils, and toss the ones that don't work or are missing caps or erasers.
Sort through as many file folders as you can in five minutes. Start at the front of the file cabinet, and note where you leave off. The next time you have five minutes to spare, pick up where you ended last time until you move through the whole cabinet.
Stack books and magazines by size. Corral extras, such as remotes, in a pretty tray.
Remove items that don't belong, and place everything else in a pretty box or basket.