You know that sense of deep satisfaction that you get after tackling a big organizational task, like cleaning out the garage or organizing the linen closet? Suddenly, everything in life feels a bit more tidy and manageable, even if it’s just in our imagination. As much as I love the feeling, those bigger jobs are usually relegated to a Sunday afternoon when I have time to spend a couple of hours. But I have found a few ways to inject some of these organization ideas into the work week: even when things are really busy, I can remind myself of this truth: Hey, it will only take a few minutes!
Aside from the sense of calm tackling these organization tasks give me, the bonus side effect is that my life tends to stay pretty organized all the time since these have become habits that are in my regular rotation. I don’t know about you, but when my space is tidy and organized, I find that my focus improves, my mood is lighter, and I feel less scattered overall. It’s difficult to keep track of my day if I feel like I’m being pulled in multiple directions because things have gotten out of control. That’s why I can’t get enough organization tips in my life. So, I’d love to hear about your quickies in the comments! Just call these the “cheap thrills” of organizing.
Read on for 25 organization ideas that can be tackled in 5 minutes or less.
1. Create tomorrow’s to-do list in order of priority.
Don’t waste time going back and forth between errands or projects, instead, make a to-do list that helps you maximize your time and energy. I find that my mind is fresher and I am more focused in the mornings, which makes it a good time for longer, energy-consuming tasks that I might start to dread if they are put off until the afternoon.
2. Delete any apps on your phone that you don’t use.
Not only is it a waste of space on your device, but it takes up space in your mind as well. Old games you no longer play, defunct social media apps, and old work apps don’t need to be taking up any visual energy. It’s time to say goodbye!
3. Organize the pantry by tossing old items, and grouping like ingredients together.
I was shocked by what a difference reorganizing my pantry made in my day-to-day life. After a couple of years in my home, it had all become a jumble and needed a major overhaul, but I was feeling blocked as to how to make it happen. Luckily, my mom came to visit and brought her expert organization tips. It’s been a total game changer!
4. Clean up your computer desktop by deleting unnecessary documents and filing everything else in folders.
You’d be amazed at what a difference reducing digital clutter makes in your life. Your computer will work faster, you’ll be able to find files you need quicker, and overall it will feel less stressful to navigate. Digital organization tips are just as necessary as IRL ones these days!
5. Wipe down your makeup drawer and toss old products.
It’s wild how quickly a makeup drawer or bag can go from tidy and neat to an absolute disaster. How does that happen? Go through it quarterly and get rid of half-used products that aren’t doing well, empties you forgot about, and give everything a nice wipe down while you’re at it.
6. Throw away any trash in your car (including the trunk!) and bring in items that have accumulated over time.
Anyone else guilty of this? It’s so easy to leave a jacket, old napkins, or the odd can of soda in the car. But over time it becomes unmanageable. Give it all a thorough once over and start fresh.
7. Return unanswered texts.
Is there anything more daunting than the little number next to your text message app? Set aside some time every week to get back to your loved ones who have been meaning to connect with you. Not only will it feel refreshing to take that burden off your conscience, but it’ll feel great to touch base with people you’ve been meaning to get back to.
8. Organize your home office or desk by clearing clutter on the desktop. Recycle any paperwork that you no longer need.
Despite the fact that so few of us need physical paper for our daily jobs, there always seems to be never-ending paper clutter that is difficult to reduce. Take the time to sift through any kind of documentation or paperwork—everything from old mail to notes or ancient paperwork. It’s time to say goodbye.
9. Clean out the contents of your purse.
Stop wasting time while fishing around for your keys and phone and make sure you’re only taking the essentials with you on a daily basis.
10. Answer the one email that you’ve been putting off the most.
We all know the one, the dreaded email that haunts us all. Rip off the bandaid and free your mind of that burden. It will probably take less time than you think and you’ll feel truly liberated.
11. Sift through your closet for any items you need to donate.
I like to do this after every season once it’s become quite clear that I am no longer using a particular piece of clothing. More often than not, if you went an entire winter season without putting on a specific sweater, or you keep omitting a certain swimsuit from your beach trips, it’s time to say goodbye. (And don’t just put the bag of clothes in your car and “forget” to take it to Goodwill!)
12. Clean out the kitchen junk drawer.
Everyone’s got one. Save yourself the daily sifting and keep only what you actually need on a near-daily basis. This might seem like a basic organization tip, but it’s shocking how the most common-sense ones are the ones that plague us the most! Follow our expert junk drawer organization tips and you’ll be on your way!
13. Delete recorded TV shows that you’re not going to watch (or have already seen.)
That goes for updating your Netflix queue as well. I am definitely guilty of sorting through tons of shows that I lost interest through halfway but have yet to delete. It’s a time-waster and you don’t need it!
14. Sort through the mail that’s piled up on your countertop.
Is anyone else mail averse? Why is it so scary? Rip off the bandaid, go through it, and move on. No one needs to clutter on their table or countertops, and it’s usually mainly junk mail anyways.
Having an organized, clean, and tidy fridge makes a world of difference when you open it up and try to decide what to cook. It gives you a clear visual of what you’re working with and makes it much less overwhelming when trying to meal plan.
16. Recycle wire hangers and plastic bags that are still hanging out in your closet from the dry cleaner.
No more being poked or getting frustrated with warped wire hangers that never seem to hold still when you’re looking through the closet. Or even better, bring your own reusable garment bags so that you don’t have to use the ones from the cleaners!
17. Delete photos you don’t need from your iPhone.
The accumulation of photos on my iPhone is truly shocking, but I’ve found it helpful to take some time each week and delete pictures I don’t need or like, and to sort them into albums that make them easily accessible.
18. Sort through your medicine cabinet and throw out old Rx bottles.
Getting rid of expired medication is more important than you might think! Sort through it and make a mental note of what you need. This way you’ll always know you can rely on what’s in your medicine cabinet and first aid kit and always feel prepared.
19. Clean your makeup brushes.
You don’t even want to know how much bacteria they hold. Whether or not you’re acne-prone, this is something you should be doing on a weekly basis. Invest in a great cleanser so it won’t feel like such a drag. Your skin will thank you for it.
20. Straighten up your drawers by matching socks and folding t-shirts into a nice stack.
Suddenly, you’ll feel like the most organized person ever! I’m a fan of the Marie Kondo method, but thanks to the many brilliant organization tips you can find online, you can find the one that is most realistic for you so that it stays nice and neat moving forward.
21. Clean up the kiddo’s toys.
Better yet, if they’re old enough, have little ones help out! A messy array of toys and stuffed animals can make a space feel chaotic, but if you have a designated toy bin, it’s easy to round all the creatures up and return them to their rightful home.
22. Wipe down the guest bathroom
When guests arrive at your door unexpectedly, it can be stress-inducing to know your home is in a less-than-ideal state. If nothing else, I always make sure the downstairs half-bath looks presentable. A quick scrub of the sink, brush of the toilet, and sweep of the floor should do the trick.
23. Tidy up your jewelry
This is my #1, best-bang-for-your-buck organization tip. When I come home after a night out, I’m often too tired to put my jewelry away properly. Result? Tangled necklaces and missing earrings. Take a few minutes to hang up your larger pieces, group your rings together in a small box, and stack your bracelets in a way that’s aesthetically pleasing—and makes everything easy to find.
24. Invest in a few mesh laundry bags
If I’m doing laundry for the fam, socks inevitably end up without their match and the kids’ piles are hard to sort. Solution? Set yourself up for success with a few mesh laundry bags you can designate for each member of the family. That way, you won’t have to ask yourself Whose is whose? ever again.
25. Swap out seasonal clothes
Okay, this task may take a few five-minute sessions, but stay with me. Take your clothes from the closet in sections, and with rapid-fire judgment, determine which are appropriate for the season you’re in and put the rest in a tote to be stored away until the chilly weather comes back. That way, you won’t have to sift through all your fall clothes to find a perfect-for-May outfit.
This post was originally published on April 2, 2020, and has since been updated.