by Susan McCarthy
Whether you want to clear clutter or maintain order, this guide to decluttering your home in just 5 minutes a day helps you transform your home without a big draw on your time or energy. The secret is consistency…which should be easy to achieve when you need just minutes a day.
I know, five minutes doesn’t seem like all that much. At least not enough to be significant. But the secret power of five-minute decluttering tasks is that they are ridiculously easy to do. While you can balk at a three-hour session, or even an hourlong decluttering session, how can you say no to a mere one-twelfth of an hour?
Below, you’ll find a couple of ways to approach five-minute decluttering. One is all about clearing unnecessary items from a Little Space. Two is all about maintaining order in the spaces you’ve already decluttered.
And, of course, if you find yourself with an extra five minutes during the day (maybe while on hold for a phone call), you can sneak in another session. If you find yourself with fifteen minutes, you could string together three five-minute tasks, perhaps three shelves or that drawer that you can no longer shut.
How Much Work Can You Accomplish with Five Minutes of Decluttering?
Whether you have five minutes or five hours, what you can accomplish when decluttering depends upon a few things…
How much stuff you have. Whether there are ten items in a drawer or one hundred what is, is. You might need a few sessions of sifting through the contents of that drawer before you have a more manageable quantity so that you can empty the drawer.
How much time do you have? You aren’t going to be able to empty an entire cabinet in your kitchen in five minutes. You can declutter one shelf. While knowing you have just five minutes to work can be an incentive to work quickly, you can only get so much done so be kind to yourself.
How quickly you can make decisions. If you are going to mull over whether a paper clip is too bent to keep (don’t laugh, I’ve seen it happen), then it’s going to take longer to sort through a Little Space. You may zip through your sock drawer, but the drawer of kitchen utensils goes more slowly because one of your goals is to make more home cooked meals and you need to figure out what you’ll really use.
And remember, while five minutes isn’t much time, it’s better than zero minutes or the good intentions to put in time over the weekend. Five minutes a day, every day of the year adds up to 30 hours…or two and a half hours each month. You can even use this to supplement the occasional longer sessions you can fit in.
5-Minute Decluttering Tasks That Help You Make Progress
If you have only 5-minutes to declutter, you’ll want to select Little Spaces that aren’t overpacked. Or just know that you’ll return to that spot for as many five-minute sessions as it will take.
How to Work a Five-Minute Decluttering Session
If the shelf or drawer is over packed, instead of emptying it, sort and shift items from the top, removing trash, things to donate, and things that belong elsewhere. When there is less stuff in the drawer (this could take a few five-minute sessions), then you can empty the space and see what you may have missed.
30 5-Minute Decluttering Projects You Can Accomplish Today
With focused decluttering sessions, I encourage you to think in Little Spaces. A Little Space is a natural container – a shelf, a drawer, a small bin or bag, the edges of a piece of furniture (like an end table).
You can also divide a bigger area into Little Spaces. For example, you could divide the dining table into six or eight sections. Or you could see that the area contains different types of items…clothing, mail, magazines, craft supplies, gift wrapping supplies…and focus on one Little Category (mail on the dining table) during your decluttering session.
5-Minute Decluttering Tasks You Can Do When Not at Home
Are you in a waiting room or standing in line? You can do a quick declutter of your phone.
The 5-Minute Daily Decluttering Routine to Keep Clutter from Returning
This method works best if you’ve already decluttered and organized a room. For maintenance, this keeps the clutter from coming back by making certain that things aren’t being set down and ignored. Remember, sometimes clutter is an item that can be tossed or recycled (junk mail) and other times clutter is something that needs to be put away.
In case you’re wondering how effective a 5-minute daily decluttering routine can be, remember, every little bit is better than nothing. To get the most benefits from a 5-minute routine, you will need to know where things belong…and make those determinations quickly.
If you find yourself holding an item with no clue where it belongs, you’re wasting valuable seconds. In this case, you’ll need to make the time to determine where this item belongs and give it a home. Maybe you haven’t decluttered the room where this item belongs. Or it’s something new to your home and you just haven’t thought where to store it.
Want a quick answer to this dilemma of where something belongs? The answer is…where would you go looking for this when you need it? If you need that roll of gift wrap, are you going to look for it in your closet or in the corner of your home office?
Since this is a daily routine, focus on the rooms where you and your family have spent time during the day. So, focus on visible, living areas like the kitchen, bedrooms, family room, and bathrooms. And, yes, get the family involved! Even really young kids can pick up toys for five minutes.
The steps for this decluttering routine:
Make this routine a habit.
Can’t Manage a 5-Minute Decluttering Task?
Some days, even five minutes can seem undoable. In this case, declutter one item a day. Why, if life is crazy busy should you bother with a single item? It’s not just about reducing the quantity of items in your home. Decluttering one item a day becomes a placeholder in your mind…you are creating the mindset of someone who is decluttering and organizing their house.
Want to add some oomph to that single item? After you toss it in the trash or your donation box, tell yourself something like, “Good job!” “That’s my decluttering for the day!” “Progress!” or some other cheering message. According to Dr BJ Fogg in his book, Tiny Habits, this tiny celebration helps your brain understand that this was a positive action…one you will want to repeat in the future.
Declutter Your Home in 5 Minutes a Day
Remember that a mere five minutes a day will add up to two and a half hours a month, thirty hours in a year. Whether this is the only time you can give to decluttering your home, or this will supplement occasional longer sessions, these few minutes do add up…without burdening your current schedule.
Hi, I'm Susan
My mission is to help you learn what decluttering can add to your life. Find out more about what I do here.