22 Organizing Shortcuts to Declutter in Less Time

white bedroom with colorful blankets and fur rug
Photo: Erin Kunkel

If you're short on time, targeting your efforts to a specific decluttering task can work wonders for organizing your home. Try these organizing ideas that can be done in as little as five minutes to start conquering clutter.

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Declutter the Bathroom in 15 Minutes

white bathroom with black decorative tile flooring
John Gruen

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 Toss items that are outdated or unused.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.

02 of 22

Declutter Your Pantry in an Hour

white pantry wicker baskets storage
Joyelle West

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.

If you have an hour: 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 scrub before 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.

03 of 22

Declutter Your Entryway in an Hour

modern Scandinavian-style entry hooks hats concrete floors storage
Edmund Barr

If you have 5 minutes: Straighten up 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.

If you have an hour: Hang hooks or pegs to give coats and bags a home that isn't the floor.

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Declutter Your Message Center in 15 Minutes

hidden cabinet pockets kitchen fridge
Anthony Masterson

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 out of the message center and sort papers into piles: keep in a folder (telephone numbers, etc.), move elsewhere (paid bills, pictures, etc.), and toss (anything you don't need).

05 of 22

Declutter Your Bookshelves in an Hour

Tight shot of bookshelf with knick knacks
Helen Norman

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 bookshelf 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.

If you have an hour: Pull everything from the shelves. In addition to recycling magazines and pulling books to be donated, reorganize books in alphabetical order, by subject, or by color. Dust the full shelves before placing books back in their rightful spots. Rearrange books and decor for a refreshed look.

06 of 22

Declutter Kitchen Cabinets in an Hour

Gray-stained lower cabinets and white upper cabinets with chevron gray/white tiled backsplash around kitchen stove
Kim Cornelison

If you have 5 minutes: Simply straighten the insides of open shelving or your 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.

If you have an hour: Do a quick sort-and-toss of cabinet contents. Put items you never use into a donation box, and toss gadgets that no longer work or are past their prime.

07 of 22

Declutter Your Hallway Closet in an Hour

linen closet organized with bins and baskets
Lincoln Barbour

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 used items. For example, if it's a hall closet, designate one bin for first aid supplies, and one for excess bath necessities, such as lotions or room sprays. The last bin is for everything else.

If you have an hour: Install an organization aid that will streamline 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 bedding, make room for baskets on the floor.

08 of 22

Declutter Your Closet in 15 Minutes

boys shelving closet organizer
Brie Williams

If you have 5 minutes: Hang up clothes that are on the floor or draped over your designated drop spot, such as on a chair or a stool.

If you have 10 minutes: Reorganize the hanging bar in your closet by item type, placing all your shirts in one section, pants in another, and so on.

If you have 15 minutes: After you organize the hanging bar, target one other area, such as a bin on the shelf in the 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.

09 of 22

Declutter Plastic Containers in 15 Minutes

cupboard of food storage containers organized in plastic bins
Jay Wilde

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.

10 of 22

Declutter Your Kids' Rooms in an Hour

children's play room
Kim Cornelison

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 in your kid's bedroom to clean up, such as a disorganized dresser, a messy desk, or a haphazard bookcase.

If you have an hour: 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.

11 of 22

Organize Art Supplies in 15 Minutes

close-up shot of storage organizers with framed art and pens pencils on top
Anne D. Schlechter

Group crafting supplies, such as markers, colored pencils, and paintbrushes, in containers. We recommend clear canisters so you can see what's in each canister. Papers, adhesives, and specialized craft supplies should be separated and stored in a drawer below the work surface.

12 of 22

Declutter Jewelry in an Hour

blue dresser and chair in pink room
Greg Scheidemann

If you have 10 minutes: Place earrings and rings in shallow trays; bracelets and bulkier necklaces can be hung up. Delicate necklaces are easily tangled and should be hung up or laid aside, if you're in a hurry.

If you have 15 minutes: Purge and sort your jewelry, eliminating things you no longer wear.

If you have an hour: Make your own pretty DIY storage for hanging necklaces. Hang an empty frame on the wall. Install a colorful variety of cabinetry knobs on the wall within the frame.

13 of 22

Declutter Your Living Room in 15 Minutes

bright yellow, blue, and pink living room with patterned chairs
Brie Williams

Pick up anything that doesn't belong in the living room, such as phone chargers, and return it to the right spot. Sort through magazines and toss outdated periodicals in the recycling. Straightening pillows and tidying throw blankets give a disheveled room a quick pick-me-up.

14 of 22

Declutter Media Items in 15 Minutes

wooden desk with green banner
Jason Donnelly

Transfer DVDs to a CD case for more compact storage. Stash the cases elsewhere if you want to hang on to them. Do the same for video games. Gather board games, puzzles, and electronics accessories like cords, controls, and batteries, in a basket, bin, or closed drawer.

15 of 22

Declutter the Utensil Drawer in 15 Minutes

Kitchen Drawers
Edmund Barr

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.

16 of 22

Organize Your Refrigerator or Freezer in 15 Minutes

inside fridge view food organization shelving
Cameron Sadeghpour

Take a few minutes to throw out expired food and week-old leftovers. If you have more time, assign spots to specific foods you typically stock, such as vegetables, fruit, or condiments. Affix moisture-resistant labels to shelves, racks, and trays, as well as containers.

17 of 22

Organize Under the Sink in 15 Minutes

under sink kitchen cleaning supplies
Werner Straube

Keep under-sink areas 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.

18 of 22

Organize Toiletries in 15 Minutes

medicine cabinet fully stocked brushes combs toothpaste
Cameron Sadeghpour

Sequence supplies when organizing a medicine cabinet. Position toiletries in a cabinet, drawer, or bin based on the order you use them. For example, keep facial cleansers, night cream, and cotton swabs on one shelf. Put grooming supplies such as styling products, hairbrushes, and makeup supplies on another.

19 of 22

Organize Your Junk Drawer in 5 Minutes

Craft supplies drawer under cabinets
Greg Scheidemann

If you're really short on time, take just five minutes to organize your junk drawer. Sort through the pens, markers, and pencils. Test all of the utensils, and toss the ones that don't work or are missing caps or erasers. Group similar items, like batteries, rubber bands, paper clips, and coupons, in containers.

20 of 22

Organize File Folders in 5 Minutes

sturdy file box with files

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.

21 of 22

Organize Your Coffee Table in 5 Minutes

living room with brick fireplace
Ann VanderWiel Wilde

To organize your coffee table, stack books and magazines by size. Corral extras, such as remotes, in a pretty tray. Return mobile devices or coffee mugs to their rightful place. Dust the surface for a quick refresh.

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Organize a Nightstand in 5 Minutes

white bedroom with colorful blankets and fur rug
Erin Kunkel

Remove items that don't belong. Place small items in a pretty tray. Limit bedside reading material to things you are currently reading and return others to a bookshelf—or donate them.

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