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It’s morning rush hour and you’re hustling to get your kids and yourself out the door.
As you’re packing lunches, you’re able to put your hands on six water bottles, but somehow can find only one lid. (You peek in the junk drawer, but no lids have migrated there.)
Glancing toward the bureau by the front door, you notice a pile of unopened mail so high that a dangerous collapse is inevitable.
And when you finally get all the kids packed up and dropped off, you suddenly realize you forgot to brush your teeth before leaving the house. Popping open the center console of your car, in search of a breath mint, you reach into a dangerously sticky, glittery junkyard of trash, coins and fast food napkins. No mint, but you do find the Happy Meal toy your 6-year-old has been begging for. So let’s call that a victory.
Spending time to get organized, while already juggling the needs of work and family, almost feels counterintuitive, doesn't it? And yet uncluttered spaces are life-giving. They promote calm, peace, freedom.
That’s what you’re after. In fact, it’s what you need.
Admittedly, minimizing all the clutter in your house over the course of one weekend is not reasonable for most people. But taking a few small steps in the right direction is possible for everyone. With a few five-minute decluttering projects, you can begin to take small, manageable steps to live in the kind of environment that is life-giving for you and for your family.
Here are some five-minute decluttering projects you can accomplish today:
Declutter your plates or cups cupboard, along with those water bottles. Many modern homes are filled with duplicate items. One of the places this can be easily noticed is in our kitchen cupboards. Realistically, how many cups, mugs, bowls and plates does your family need? Have you slowly accumulated an entire cupboard full of them? Maybe. Reach in the back, grab those that are never used, and minimize them forever from your life and valuable kitchen space. (And if the water bottles don’t have lids? Two-step them by putting them in a box for two weeks. If the lids don’t show up, the bottles go into recycling.)
Sort through a pile of mail or paper. First, look for piles of paper in places they don’t belong (kitchen counters, dining room tables, coffee tables) and tackle those piles first. You’ll get through them quickly and easily. If you’re feeling motivated, move on to tackle a larger pile—sometimes taking the first step is the hardest.
Too often our vehicles fill up with unnecessary things: old CDs, sunglasses, Happy Meal toys, receipts, coins, empty water bottles, paper trash. Grab two bags: one for garbage and one for items to relocate. Fill them quickly with everything in your car that doesn’t need to be there. You’ll be surprised how quickly you can empty your vehicle of unneeded clutter.
Some junk drawers may take longer than five minutes, I admit. If you’ve got the extra time, declutter it completely. However, for a strict five-minute task, set a timer on your watch and see how much of the junk you can remove from the drawer. You may be surprised how much you can remove in that time frame—and how quickly you can accomplish something when you put your mind to it.
If you have young children (or even older ones), you know that toys routinely get strewn around the house. Grab a few minutes with your child this evening before bed and make sure all the toys get taken back to the room or space they belong—and don’t forget car toys! If this task seems overwhelming, consider some of the benefits of owning fewer toys. But in the meantime, do your best to teach your children the importance of returning items when finished using them.
Clear off the top of your bedroom dresser. Bedrooms should promote rest, relaxation and intimacy—not upheaval and unrest. With focused attention, it will take you less than five minutes to clear off the top of your dresser. And it will change the entire mood in your bedroom.
If empty containers, expired products and dozens of items no longer used are cluttering up your medicine chest (and probably the cupboards under your sink), take a few minutes and remove everything that can go. Then, dispose of it appropriately. You’ll feel more calm the very next morning as you get ready for the day ahead.
I realize, of course, everyone’s living arrangement looks a little bit different than others. Specifically, for you, one of the projects listed above may take longer than five minutes. But for the most part, they can be completed quickly. And whether you accomplish one or all seven, you’ll be thankful you did. They might not solve all your clutter issues, but they’ll definitely get you moving in the right direction.
Happy decluttering. And enjoy a life that’s a little more peaceful!
Joshua Becker is the founder and editor of Becoming Minimalist, a website dedicated to inspiring others to find more life by owning less. He is the best-selling author of The Minimalist Home: A Room-by-Room Guide to a Decluttered, Refocused Life and The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own.
Written by Joshua Becker for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.