The Best Speed-Cleaning Routines From Professional Organizers for When You're Short on Time
Despite what Marie Kondo might believe, sometimes the thought of tidying up doesn't spark joy. Sadly, it still has to be done. The good news is that if you have just 15 minutes you can make a dent in many a mess. If you have 30 minutes or one hour, even better. To help you maximize your moments, we spoke to four folks who organize for a living for their best tips and trick for tidying up. They have recommendations for where to focus your efforts when you're short on time.
"In 15 minutes I would stick to items that didn't take a lot of thought to do like loading the dishwasher, making the bed, or cleaning/sanitizing toilets. All three will give you a fresh start," says Nikki Bell of Just Us Organizing in Texas.
"When time is limited, start in a space that you can actually tidy within your time frame, but remember to aim for good, not perfect," says Kenika Williams of Tidied by K, a professional organizing service in Marietta, Georgia. "If you only have 15 minutes to spare, a realistic goal may be to clear the dining room table, put a load of laundry in, or tidy the bathroom. Focus on tasks that can be realistically achieved within your time frame."
"Fifteen minutes is a good amount of time to spend returning items to their 'home' or ideal storage location," recommends Schae Lewis, Certified Professional Organizer and founder of Mission 2 Organize LLC. "We often set things down throughout the day in places where they do not belong. If this practice continues day after day, you could have a real mess on your hands."
"If I was tidying up, and I only had 15 minutes, I would clear off as many surfaces as I could, and scoop up the stuff that has just been left lying around and corral it with its 'siblings'," says professional organizer Andrew Mellen. "So if it's paper, put it with the other papers in your home office, if it's cosmetics in the bathroom on the vanity, put everything back into its homes. Whatever category of surface clutter, find its siblings and put them back."
"A drawer or cabinet may be the best choice to organize if you only have 30 minutes," says Lewis. "Choose the one that drives you crazy and makes you cringe every time you open it. Start by removing all of the contents and wiping down the inside. Place each of the items in categories. For example, if you are organizing a kitchen cabinet, you may have a stack of bowls, a pile of plates and a selection of coffee mugs. Choose which items to return to the cabinet or drawer. You may wish to eliminate dishes with chips in them or stains on them. Categories should be placed together."
"If I had 30 minutes, I would start to take on a particular project," says Mellen. "It could be cleaning out and reorganizing the pantry, or a cupboard, or a set of cupboards. It could be a small closet, such as a utility closet or a linen closet or maybe the laundry room."
"In 30 minutes, I would clear the counters in either the kitchen and bathroom. Put items away in cabinets and drawers then wipe them down. If you have a counter full of papers, sort them near a trash can so that you can get rid of the junk mail immediately. Create a to do stack and a to file stack," suggests Bell.
"With 30 minutes, you can fully reset your kitchen, living room, or really any space if you're following tip #2 by 'slightly resetting' throughout the day," says Williams. "When time is limited be more intentional throughout your day by 'slightly resetting' when you're done using a space or thing. that can look like, once you're done using a blanket, you fold it and put it back on the couch or blanket ladder. You're not tidying the entire living at that moment, but when it's time for a bigger reset, you're not overwhelmed by a mess. The idea here is that you're not starting from ground zero- you were intentional with your spaces throughout the day, so now you're not having to deal with as much as you normally would."
"In one hour I would clear and clean the floors. Grab a laundry basket, walk around the space, and collect anything that doesn't belong in the room. The laundry basket makes it easy to carry items to their proper place," says Bell, who would use the remaining time to vacuum or sweep and mop.
"With an extra 60 minutes on your hands, you can get a surprising amount of organizing accomplished. Choose a small closet to tackle like a coat or cleaning closet. Empty all of the contents, wipe down the shelves, walls and sweep or vacuum the floor. This is an excellent time to consider if you need to adjust any shelves. Pro Tip: Adjust shelves down (not up) in order to have greater access to everything inside," recommends Lewis. "Before putting everything back, consider whether you need, use or love each item. If you do not, donate or trash the item. You will also want to make sure each item actually belongs in this location. Maybe there is a better space in your home that makes more sense for the item to be stored. Now it's time to put all of the remaining items back in. Arrange things by color, size and shape. Voila! Before the hour is up, you'll have a freshly organized closet to show off to all of your friends!"
"If I had an hour, I would do either more of the smaller projects, meaning more closets or storage spaces or I would drill a little deeper into a project that needed 60 minutes rather than 30 minutes," says Mellen. "So that could be starting to do something in the garage or larger spaces."