A huge thanks to Autumn, a professional organizer who blogs at Space for Living, for passing along this great trick.  It’s so simple yet effective–it astounds me frequently.

It’ll be one of those tips you read about and go “oh that’s nice” as you click away and are tempted not to ever try it, but think twice, my friend!  It has changed my life!

Almost everyone struggles with keeping a clean and/or organized home.  I find that I often set out with great intentions to make some headway, and 30 minutes later I’m not feeling any further along.  I got lost in a magazine as I was attempting to sort through the ones I wanted to keep or toss, or I found an old craft supply I tell myself I’ll just play with for a minute.  The worst distraction is a pile of old pictures.  Oh no.  Oh oh oh oh no.

Now let me introduce you to my new best friend, the 10 minute pickup.

10 minute timer

  A 10 minute pickup involves setting a timer for 10 minutes and performing 10 and ONLY 10 minutes of focused picking up.

Distractions are brilliantly minimized when you remind yourself “I only have 10 minutes, then I’m done.  I can do that other thing later.”  Time is truly a powerful boundary, energizer, and motivator when used in a smart way.  When I look at the clock to see I only have a few minutes of cleaning left, it’s like a personal challenge to see how much more I can get done in those precious, opportunity-brimming minutes.  Knowing a timer is ticking keeps a picker-upper on task for a brief but highly focused period, and hearing the timer buzz after 10 minutes provides the often-lacking closure we need to feel good about the time we spent cleaning.

This works because it’s so….doable.

Certainly there are going to be large-scale projects that are going to require more of your time and should be handled with different expectations.  But as far as the day-to-day case of the “man I just wish this place was a little more picked up”s….get your kitchen timers out folks, you’ll thank me later.  :)

10 minute timer messy

{variations to try}

– If you have the time, sure, eventually you can shoot for 20 minutes or longer.  However, part of the beauty is knowing you’re not cleaning for very long,  so I find small increments to be most effective.

– Get young kids involved.  My sister-in-law makes cleaning fun for her kids by pre-selecting some mystery items that are scattered about and in need of putting away.  At the end of the 10 minutes, she tells her kids what the mystery items were, and whoever was the one to put the mystery items away gets a treat or prize.

– Tag team with your significant other.  Twice the work gets done!

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