I’ve put together a huge list of my favorite tips on how to get organized when you’re short on time. One hundred little ideas to get you moving forward inch by inch. Plus, I’ve included three free printable planner pages that are simple and versatile. Read on for more!
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Managing the day-to-day operation of a home is a task in itself. Throw in three kids, a home-based business, homeschool, and pets and you’ve got a recipe for disaster! I’ve learned to be efficient with my time, energy, and space.
You can get organized just five minutes at a time.
Yes, really: five minutes. You won’t catch me dedicating an entire day to organizing. Nobody got time for that! Instead I keep up with organizing by doing little bits at a time. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish in five minutes.
Some of these ideas are intentionally fun! If you’re struggling, choose to organize your movie list today or take five minutes to clear your head and organize your thoughts instead of conquering your email list. You can do this. You can do anything for five minutes.
Inch by Inch
If you’re feeling overwhelmed but the thought of overhauling an entire house or your daily routine is even more overwhelming, this list is for you. Take a breath. In the words of the fabulous Olympic gold medalist, Michelle Carter:
“Inch by inch is a cinch, yard by yard is hard.”
This is simply a list of ideas. This is not 100 TO-DOs to overwhelm you. Take it inch by inch. You don’t need to make huge leaps; big changes can begin with small steps. Start with one five-minute task. Try another tomorrow. Small changes will create a ripple effect and you will see progress. Just keep moving forward!
Write it Down
Do you ever feel like you need one place where you could keep everything. That’s your planner. It could be a notebook, printables in a binder, a decorated journal, or a high end planner. Whatever it is, the key is to use it. Here are my tips for using your planner to get organized in 5 minutes. Just pick one to feel a little more organized today.
1 Write down your schedule for the day, hour by hour.
2 Write down everything on your huge to-do list, circle your top most important tasks and cross out the five least.
3 Fill in a monthly calendar with upcoming events, deadlines, and schedules.
4 Keep a running log of work tasks, cleaning, or to-dos that you want to complete on a daily basis.
5 Print work schedules, practice and game times, and the weekly classes at the gym so you don’t have to look them up online over and over again. Keep these neat in a binder.
6 Post a large calendar that your whole family can see or create a calendar to share online.
7 Keep a running list of things that need to be replaced (especially when you start purging).
8 Create a book list in your journal or on Goodreads or a wishlist on Overdrive or Kindle.
9 Create an Amazon Wishlist just for movies you want to watch.
10 Write down your goals for the day, week, month, or year. Just get them down on paper.
Prepare the night before
Make mornings easier and take five minutes to prepare yourself for the day to come.
11 Pack your gym bag and fill your water bottle.
12 Pack your lunch.
13 Lay out your clothes.
14 Fill up waters or milk and leave a morning snack in the fridge for your kids.
15 Prepare what you can for breakfast.
I’m a horrible cook. I don’t enjoy cooking or the clean up that comes with it. I really have to be organized if I want to get anything on the table for my family. Here is how I attempt to do it in just a few minutes every week.
16 Plan breakfast: Most people plan dinner, but you can quickly plan breakfast to make mornings easier. I don’t like to make it for more than five minutes so I rotate through a few family favorites every week.
17 Set up a few theme nights: What are your go-to favorites that you could eat almost every week? We have Taco Tuesday, Breakfast for Dinner Wednesday, Pizza Night on Friday. Write down a few consistent nights you can use every week, and you meal plan will be half finished before you even start!
18 Write it down: Put it up on the fridge or family calendar.
19 Keep a list of favorite family meals in your planner, on your computer, or on your fridge.
20 If you count calories, carbs, point or something else, write down the value of your go-to breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks to have on hand when you’re planning.
21 Keep a running list of essentials you always buy. I order everything through Walmart pickup. All I have to do is copy an old grocery list and all my essentials are added to my cart in 5 seconds.
If you haven’t tried Walmart pickup, here’s a Promo Code for $10 off! If you order I get $10 off too. Win/win. But really we’re all winners when we don’t have to go inside Walmart…
22 When all else fails: Order pizza online. It won’t be ready in five minutes, but that’s about the time it takes to put in an order. Take it easy today.
23 Do your dishes: Okay, I’m cheating a little on this one. With five people eating almost all of their meals at home, I can either run the dishwasher twice a day or just let the dishes pile up to the sky. Instead, I’ve switched to paper plates for lunch and paper towels for snacks. It saves me a lot of time and keeps the kitchen organized through the middle of the day.
Timers and Alarms
Devices and appliances come with timers and alarms for you convenience. Take five minutes set yourself up for success. It will save you time and keep you organized later.
24 Set an alarm for standing appointments: Have you ever missed a weekly appointment, practice, or game because you just totally spaced? That’s me. I can hardly remember what day of the week it is. Set an alarm for the time you would have to get ready to make it there on time. You’ll never miss a standing appointment again.
25 Set an alarm for birthdays and anniversaries for a week out. You’ll have time to shop for a gift or send a card.
26 Set an alarm for upcoming deadlines, meetings, or projects either hours or days in advance.
27 Set the timer on your coffee maker or Keurig. It’s so nice when the machine is warmed up and waiting for you.
28 Set the A/C and heat to the temperature you like during the day and at night.
29 Set the Do Not Disturb feature on your phones and tablets so that notifications aren’t pulling your attention at night or at work.
Is it Expired?
When I need to organize quickly, I stick to simple yes and no questions. Subjective questions like “does this head of lettuce bring me joy” doesn’t help me clean out the refrigerator. Take 5 minutes and ask yourself, “Is it expired?” Yes? Toss it. No? Put it back.
30 Toss all of the expired food in your fridge – and any leftovers more than three days old.
31 Toss expired spices.
32 Throw away any expired canned or dry goods in your pantry.
33 Say goodbye to expired nail polish (open bottles more than 2 years old).
34 Get rid of all of your expired pharmaceuticals in your medicine cabinet.
See: How to properly dispose of medicine.
Is it Broken?
As we use things sometimes they break. Sometimes that’s the end of their use (or safe use at least), but things seem to stick around anyway. Use this simple yes or no question: “Is this broken?” Then, take a few minutes and purge a single area.*
35 Broken toys.
36 Games or puzzles with missing pieces.
37 Torn books or ones with missing pages.
38 Clothing that is ripped, torn, stained, or missing buttons.
39 Cups or dishes that are chipped or cracked.
40 Broken picture frames, knickknacks, or other decorative items hanging around.
41 Electronics that no longer work, are cracked, or cost more to repair than to replace.
See: How to properly dispose of electronics.
*Some of you may be handy at fixing things. If so, some organizational advice:
42 Keep your sewing kit and all of your items that need to be mended in a single container. When you’re ready to work, it’s all at hand.
43 Keep all of your batteries in large container. When anything needs batteries, throw it in there. When you’re ready, grab your screwdriver kit, and go to town.
Has this been Replaced?
I wish I was disciplined enough to keep up with the “one in/one out rule.” I am not. However, I can see when things start to build up. That’s when I start looking for duplicates. Am I using a new and better version while still hanging on to the old one? If yes, then buh-bye. Take 5 minutes to check one area of your home where doubles pop up.
44 Make-up drawer or bag: Goodbye pressed powder that just has the ring around the edges.
45 Bathrooms: Toss old bottles with only a half inch of product left, tiny slivers of soap, and feminine products you’ve replaced with something new and better.
46 Under the sink: Old cleaning products, sponges that have been replaced with the Sponge Daddy, and anything else you’ve stashed under there and since replaced.
47 Large utensil holder in the kitchen: Let go of double spatulas, measuring cups and spoons, basting brushes and the like.
48 Toolbox: You only need one hammer/screwdriver set/saw/hex wrench set/etc. Get rid of the other(s).
49 Electronics graveyard: Oh you have one, too? A box of wires that don’t fit any new devices, remotes and phones from the turn of the century? If it’s been replaced, it’s time to let it go. See: How to properly dispose of electronics.
50 Paper bills: If you pay bills online, your paper bills have been replaced. Take five minutes and switch one bill over to electronic billing. Bonus: you might get a discount on your bill.
51 CDs, cassettes, and old records: If you’re streaming, embrace it. It’s time to let go of the stacks of physical recordings.
Digital clutter is like any other: creeping in little by little. You may not see piles of it around the house, but it’s there – taking up your time and energy. Here are ideas to help you clear up some room on your electronic and mental hard drives.
52 Sort Email by sender and delete large chunks at a time.
53 Forward all of your email to one address – no more multiple inboxes!
54 Unsubscribe to 10 email lists. Most email clients feature one-click unsubscribes.
55 Leave the Facebook groups you don’t use.
56 Unfollow your acquaintances. See news from the people you know and love first.
57 Delete unused Pinterest boards or boards with completed projects.
58 Turn social media and email notifications off on your phone. Check these on your own terms in your own time.
59 Delete unused apps on your phone.
60 Sort like apps into folders to keep all of your favorites on your first page.
61 Delete all of the pictures in your “screenshots” folder and any photos that you’ve already backed up.
62 Sort your desktop saves into folders or toss them in the Recycle Bin.
63 Sort your downloads into folders or toss them in the Recycle Bin.
*Don’t forget to empty your recycle bin and clear out your recently deleted pics!
Dealing with Packaging
More packaging comes into my home than actual products.
Here’s how I keep it from taking over.
64 Get rid of grocery packaging immediately: Take everything out of their cardboard boxes and take them all out to the recycling while you’re putting your groceries away. Yes, unpacking groceries will take you an extra five minutes, but you won’t have half ripped open boxes cluttering up your kitchen. It’s also easier to see what you have when everything is out.
65 Break down all your boxes at the front door: We get our huge Subscribe & Save boxes around mid-month. The boxes inside boxes is overwhelming. They do not get past my front hallway. Take them right back out the door along with any other packaging that can be recycled.
66 Purge your gift bags. Let go one ones that are crinkled, dirty, or plain ugly. Or if you have an upcoming birthday party just toss the whole lot. There will always be more coming in.
67 Dedicate an outdoor or garage recycling bin for junk mail. Don’t even let it in the house.
There are a few other places that stuff naturally builds up. Take a few minutes and a garbage bag and do a quick toss. Don’t worry about organizing anything. Just getting rid of the extra trash will make your space feel more organized immediately.
68 Purse: Good bye random receipts and gum wrappers.
69 Wallet: Take photos of business cards and then show them the door.
70 Your desk: Paper trash build-up is the worst. Take the envelopes off your bills, the wrappers off your supplies, and trash whatever other paper or clutter that stands between you and your work.
71 Your car trunk.
72 Entryway or front closet.
73 The top and drawer of your nightstand.
It’s where the heart is, and likely where you’re spending the majority of your time. Give it a few extra minutes of attention and you will see changes over time.
74 Create a place for your keys, sunglasses, and purse right by the door.
75 Create a drop spot for letters with a trash can nearby. Get rid of the envelopes and any return mailers that you won’t use right away.
76 Move a shelf. You will be shocked at the amount of space you can create by moving a shelf up or down a couple of pegs.
77 Replace packaging or containers that are broken, dirty, or ugly with attractive ones that match.
78 Put up a hanger for your gym bag by the front door.
79 Make a charging station for all of your devices. Think of it as a home base for your phones, tablets, headphones, laptops, and watches. Anything that needs to be charged all in one place.
80 Put labels on containers, inside cabinets, inside drawers and anywhere else you can think of to identify the purpose of your space.
81 Put all of your cup lids in one bowl in the cabinet with your cups.
82 Match up your Tupperware containers and lids and trash all the extra lids that have accumulated.
Cleaning. The bane of my existence. With three kids under six, I’m usually putting in a lot more than just 5 minutes. However, spending a few minutes getting organized first saves me a good deal of time overall.
83 Before you do a big clean, make a list of what rooms you’ll clean in what order. Start with the easiest and quickest ones first, and you’ll be motivated by your fast progress!
84 Simplify your cleaning supplies by purging doubles and put them all in a large cleaning bin.
85 Keep a jar of all purpose and glass cleaning wipes in each bathroom for a quick clean.
86 Change your home air filters and write the date in sharpie on the new one.
If you’re committed to on-going organizing, you may want to consider finding a space for a few catch-all bins. Label these and empty them frequently!
87 Donation box to collect all of your donate-able items during your mini-purges.
88 Sell box if you’re into ebay. Keep it small, and when it’s full get rid of it!
89 Shred box for confidential documents that can be shredded once a year or more.
90 Electronics recycling box. Get rid of it after you have completed purging!
91 Hazardous material disposal box – for medications, paint, batteries, and other items you might be getting rid of over time.
Quite possibly your home away from home. You might spend hours in the car each day or barely ever drive. Either way cars are notorious clutter collectors.
92 Install a trash can in your car. If you’re using plastic bag liners, stuff a handful down in the bottom so you’ll have one on hand when it’s time to change it.
93 Put a notepad, pen, and phone charger in a pouch in your car. Organized on-the-go.
94 Organize the paperwork in your glove box into a folder or pouch, and trash all the expired registrations and insurance cards in there.
Just a few more…
There is one more space that you might want to organize. Your mind. Thoughts and worries clutter up our minds just like empty envelopes clutter up my desk. Take 5 minutes to clear the clutter with your mind.
95 Write down every little detail of what you accomplished today from eating a real breakfast to changing the batteries in your remote. You’ve done more than you think.
96 Write an angry letter. Get it all out. Just don’t send it to anyone.
97 Make a list of all the things that are annoying you, making you feel overwhelmed, or worried.
98 Meditate: I love the meditation app, Buddhify. These guided meditations start around 5 mintues and are great for on-the-go. $2.99 for the app.
99 Start a journal that is just for tracking your organizational progress – or add a page to your binder. Keep track of how far you’ve come.
100 Step away for a time out or a five minute walk. Sometimes you just need five minutes to breathe and organize your thoughts. Take it.
I’m excited to be included in
iHomeschool’s Useful Tasks list!