Have half an hour to spare? Spend it productively with these 10 small home-organising tasks that will have a big effect.
A really thorough declutter and organising blitz should be done in short chunks over several weeks, but if you don’t have time for this there are still ways to get your home in order. These simple, half-hour ideas are perfect for helping you organise the most visible and frequently used areas of your home, and will make daily life just that little bit easier.
1. Clear your kitchen surfaces
Kitchens can be clutter magnets, with all sorts of things ending up on the bench. Items that are used most days can be kept out if you prefer, but try to keep similar objects together in attractive storage containers. This means that visually, multiple items become a single entity, which looks more streamlined, and it also makes cleaning underneath them easier. Start by clearing all the surfaces in your kitchen – you may be surprised at how much you have accumulated. Think carefully about which items you want to display on each surface. A good tip is to keep only those items that you find beautiful, or that you use daily. Sift out items that you’re happy to let go of and those that don’t belong in the kitchen. The other objects can be stored out of sight in cupboards and drawers.
2. Streamline your toiletries
Gather together all the toiletries and cosmetics from around your home and throw away or recycle anything that’s old. You can find out the shelf life of toiletries by looking for a date on the packaging or bottle. As you go along, make note of which toiletries you haven’t used to save yourself buying them again in the future. For items you do use regularly, put them back in your cupboards and on shelves and corral smaller objects into stylish jars and baskets. This will keep them all together and make the space easier to clean.
3. Sort the cutlery drawer
How many utensils or objects in your cutlery drawer have ended up there without you realising? Set aside half an hour to completely empty the drawer and sort through everything that’s there. When the drawer is clear, give it a thorough clean. This is a good time to replace an ill-fitting drawer divider with one that sits neatly, too. Put aside any unwanted utensils, tools or cutlery to donate to your local charity shop or recycle at the local household waste centre. Then, only put back in the drawer what you use regularly and want to keep, allocating a section for each type of item, including utensils and baking accessories.
4. Delve under the sink
Slide-out storage that fits in the awkward area underneath your sink is a great solution to avoid having half-used bottles of cleaning products festering at the back of the cupboard. A good immediate solution is a small box or two that you can pull out like a drawer to easily access products stored at the back. There are so many single-purpose cleaning solutions available now that it’s easy to end up with zillions of products that are rarely used. With a few exceptions, multi-purpose cleaning products are the best option. And many people are now choosing chemical-free cleaning alternatives such as microfibre cloths that can be used simply with water.
5. Hang up that broom
Broom cupboards can easily get out of control, with mops and brooms falling out every time you open the door. Keep yours in order by hanging as much as you can from hooks on the wall. It’s then easy to locate the cleaning implement you need, and to pop it away securely. Hanging pockets or baskets are also a great way to organise your cleaning products, keeping them up high out of the reach of pets and children. Allocate a basket for your cleaning cloths, too. Storing them in this way has the added benefit of allowing them to dry out and air between uses.
6. Post your mail
Do you have somewhere to put the post in your home? Or do you end up finding unopened mail in random places? A mail and stationery station should make it easier to deal with your incoming letters. You can easily invest in some wall-mounted pockets or files. Remember to label each one in a way that works for you. A good place to start is by having a slot for each of the following categories: mail in, to action, to file, mail out.
7. Tackle the desk
If you need to work from home, it helps to have a clear desk space and everything you might need close to hand. Before you organise, you’ll need to try out all your pens and throw out any that don’t work. Donate any duplicate tools to charity and make a note of what you tend to over-buy to avoid amassing more in the future. Utilise shelves for books or relevant files and hang up a pocket tidy system to keep all your stationery in order.
Tip: If you have space for a drawer to hold pens and other office essentials, a great way to keep it in order is to use a cutlery tray to compartmentalise different items.
8. Sift your socks
A whole wardrobe declutter can be a daunting prospect, but tackling your socks is a perfect place to start. Empty out the drawer onto your bed. Get some shallow boxes to use as dividers and pop these in the drawer. Pair and fold up the socks you’re keeping and pop them away – keep like with like so you can find sports socks or long socks, for example, more easily. For any socks that are past their best, pop them in a bag, label it ‘rags’ and send it to your local charity shop for recycling.
9. Encourage your kids
Get your children involved with a 30-minute decluttering in their bedrooms. Empty just one cupboard or toy box, and ask your child what they would like to do with each of the items inside. If they no longer play with a particular toy, ask them if they would like to give it to another child to play with, and introduce the idea of giving to charity. Start small and avoid overwhelming them with lots of decisions. When one cupboard is tidy, you could give yourselves a reward by playing together with the toys they’ve decided to keep. You can declutter another cupboard or toy box next time.
10. Love your linen
A neat and tidy airing cupboard with plenty of space makes putting away linen much less of a chore, so this is a great place to have a 30-minute blitz. Take an inventory of what sheets and towels you have. You only need two or three sets of bed linen for each bed – one on the bed, a clean set and a backup. The same goes for towels – ideally aim for two per person, plus one for each guest you might have stay at any one time. Once you’ve done a linen count, you can put any additional sets in the charity bag. Put everything back in the cupboard as neatly as possible and place towels with the fold at the front as it looks tidier. A good trick is to keep bed sets folded inside the coordinating pillowcase, so everything’s together when you need it.