6 Best Things to Declutter If You Only Have 15 Minutes

Here's what the pros would do.

<p>Onurdongel/Getty Images</p>

Onurdongel/Getty Images

Want to declutter your entire home in fifteen minutes? While that’s virtually impossible, you'd be surprised at how much you can accomplish in a short period of time. “Once you get into the habit of doing a fifteen-minute task, you realize that it doesn’t take long to get things done, which will help you be able to maintain and get more things done because you know it doesn’t take that long,” says Shantae Duckworth, professional organizer and founder of Shantae-ize Your Space.

I spoke with three professional organizers and asked them what they would declutter if they had just fifteen minutes. Their answers might just change your perspective and motivate you to organize—right this minute.

Related:How to Organize Your Closet in 30 Minutes Flat

Collect Surface Clutter

Fifteen minutes is enough time to remove all that surface clutter laying around your house, whether it's an empty water bottle on the coffee table or open mail collecting dust on the kitchen countertop. Professional organizer and author of The Folding Book, Janelle Cohen, advises walking around your home with a basket and picking up all the miscellaneous items that are out of place. “Then put everything you grabbed in the basket into its correct home. Little clutter can really add up but spending just fifteen minutes to fix the little piles before they become big piles will help to streamline your home and make tidying up easier and faster.”

Do Three Small 5-Minute Tasks

Sam Lund, the interior designer and professional organizer behind Simply Sam, tells me there are three spaces you can declutter in five minutes each. Start with your makeup bag or drawer. “Get rid of anything expired or that you just simply do not use.”

After that, she recommends tackling the sock drawer. “The second sock isn’t coming back," she says.

Finally, evaluate that often-ignored pen drawer. “Grab all the pens you’re never going to use because you realistically only use one or two that you love.” Bonus: an empty pen drawer frees up space to store more important items.

Organize Just One Area of Your Kitchen

There’s no way to clean and reorganize your entire kitchen in fifteen minutes, but you get a start on it. “The kitchen is a very broad and huge area, but if I take a fifteen slice of time to clean out the junk drawer—that's much more reasonable and attainable. By focusing on an area, not only are you more likely to get that area clean in fifteen minutes, but it will motivate you to keep cleaning,” Duckworth says.

Alternatively, you can organize one refrigerator shelf or one pantry shelf in fifteen minutes. If you add up little 15-minute chunks of time, you'll have a clean fridge and pantry by the end of the week without a marathon cleaning session.

Related:How to Organize Kitchen Cabinets—So You Can Actually Find Everything You Need

Fold a Load of Laundry

Do you have a huge pile of laundry that's been sitting there for a day or two? Folding it is a task you can easily accomplish in fifteen minutes, Duckworth says. Plus, as you're sorting, it gives you a chance to declutter those socks missing a match or undergarments that need to be replaced.

Clean Out the Medicine Cabinet

From eyedrops that expired three years ago to that tube of anti-itch cream that’s practically empty—we all have things in our medicine cabinet that need to go. Duckworth tells me, “Because medicine cabinets are smaller spaces and usually have things that need to be discarded, these are all items that you can make quick decisions on.”

When you’re finished, make a list of essentials that need to be replaced, such as bandages, or simply order a new first-aid kit.

Do a Digital Declutter

Want to declutter but not in the mood to get off the sofa? Why not do a digital declutter on your phone, tablet, or laptop? There are two approaches to this: either declutter your email inbox or your photos/videos.

While you aren’t likely to get to “inbox zero,” or eliminate all those accidental selfies in 15 minutes, it's a great start. Duckworth suggests making note of the number of emails you start with and the number you end at after 15 minutes. "You’ll be surprised at the number," she says.

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