Sometimes bite-sized decluttering sessions are the best. You don’t have to assign an entire week or use your holidays. Just squeeze in a quickie after work or while the kids are asleep. Here are 20 things you can declutter in 20 minutes – and often much less!
20 things you can declutter in 20 minutes – Digital
Delete, delete, delete. The power of time means sometimes you can just remove anything more than a year old. If it’s important, it will find you again. You can also make folders and categorise the keepers. If you want to go to the advanced level, set up ‘rules’ whereby certain emails are automatically filed in the corresponding folder.
I’ll bet there are lots of blurry ones, pics used for something long past, and black pocket-shots. Folders are your friend here also.
Smart phone apps
Curate your device to a collection of apps you actually use. Then you can create folders based on category (work / travel / weather, etc) or even on colour.
20 things you can declutter in 20 minutes – Kitchen
Dirty dishes and dishrack
This is low-hanging fruit. Put away the stuff in the dishrack, then wash anything dirty. And even put that away too! This makes the kitchen look much clearer.
Should be easy. Pull out each category – knives, forks, spoons, etc and get rid of anything superfluous, bent or mismatching. Wipe out the tray – gee they get crumby – and it’s an easy win.
I mean the cooking implements below the cutlery drawer . If you have drawer dividers you can separate items by category (meat / stirring / chopping etc) or even by size. Ziplock or elastic-band up anything not in frequent use, and whatever is still banded up in 6 months or a year can go to charity.
Easy peasy, check the Best Before dates. It’s ok to use spices a bit out of date – they lose potency but probably won’t make you sick. But if you have allspice from 2013 and you never use allspice, bye bye.
I love a good fridge clean. After it’s done I just want to gaze into its eyes and take in the shiny neatness … but then it beeps at me furiously. Categorise your wares – condiments, dairy, leftovers – and assign space according to their volume. Since I identify as a condiment-minimalist, I put them on the door. But if that’s not enough space, condiments can work well in a crisper drawer. Give everything a good wipe while you’re there.
Does yours collect keys, mail, Ikea parts, bread tags and elastic bands? If so, you need to improve your Junk Drawer game. And leave the fruit bowl for its namesake – fruit. And padlocks, and business cards, and … yes it’s inevitable.
Food storage containers
The first and most crucial step is to pair everything up. Anything without a lid or without a base can depart. (Although some larger containers without lids CAN be useful as drawer dividers). Then store with lids on. It seems decadent in terms or space-use, but it’s so damn nice to not have to rummage.
Think about how many you actually use. Get rid of the chipped and the ugly. Feel free to let go of ones you were gifted but hate – the giver has shown their love and you have received it. No need to burden yourself with the article indefinitely.
Pots and pans
These can be real space-hogs. I love the Tefal stackable range with a detachable handle. But if you’re not in the market for a new set, make do with what you’ve got. You can get pot-lid racks that keep lids together but similar to the plastic container argument, I prefer to store with lids on when possible.
20 things you can declutter in 20 minutes – Bedroom
Glasses and mugs, medications and aspirational books you’ll never read. Maybe just leave the books you are currently reading on top and pop the rest on a bookshelf. If you have the luxury of drawers underneath, you can assign space within and leave the top clear.
These drawers are so fun to declutter – all soft and bouncy. Pair, fold and chuck the orphans. Bye!
Look at how many you need (depending on your washing cycle and usage frequency) and how many you’ve got, then ditch the oldest and horrible-est.
It seems that these days we need different kinds of garments for different kinds of sweat-inducing activities. I call bullshit on that. Feel free to use your yoga pants for running and vice-versa, to create a more versatile collection.
By the time multiple old T shirts are downgraded to this category, it can get a bit unruly. Just keep your faves.
20 things you can declutter in 20 minutes – Bathroom
I tend to stretch the boundaries of use by dates, but not by too much. If a certain colour or product is no longer in your routine, ditch it.
Often we buy new towels and keep all the old ones, “just in case the place floods”. For the vast majority of us this is very unlikely. And guess what – newer towels are also adept at helping with flooding. You probably don’t need them all. Your local pet rescue or vet may be able to use them.
20 things you can declutter in 20 minutes – Miscellaneous
Physical mail pile
Is it in the aforementioned fruit bowl? If it’s unopened, get cracking on opening, sorting, chucking. If you have time remaining in your 20 minute block, pay any bills you encounter. A+ if you have already converted your bills to digital.
The glovebox, the footwells, the boot – they all accumulate junk. Rubbish, clothes peeled off and long-forgotten bags can be sorted and dealt with to make your car a blank slate again.
As I have said before, I am not a use by date diehard, But old prescriptions and rarely-used meds past their prime, can go out. Your pharmacy can dispose of them safely so they don’t end up in waterways.
Batteries and light globes
I don’t know about you, but I seem to have light globes that don’t fit anything I own – how did THAT happen? Libraries, recycling centres and certain shops may collect and recycle your oldies, so do a bit of research to dispose of thoughtfully.
I decluttered my handbag a few years ago – completely! Now I just carry a phone and keys. Apple Wallet you are my hero. But if you are old-school and like to carry an umbrella and lippy, your handbag might need a look-through. Shake out the detritus – yikes how do they get so dirty?
Do you have a shoe zone near the door? No matter how big or obvious I make my shoe rack, my co-inhabitors kick theirs off haphazardly. Either way if you have limited door-side space as I do, you may want to restrict the shoes on offer here. Pop away the boots in winter and the thongs in summer for example.