Set your timer – these home-organizing tasks take 20 minutes or less

I'm a professional home organizer, and I swear these 5 home organizing tasks will take you 20 minutes or less.

Flat lay view of zero waste products inside organization boxes and wicker baskets. Open drawer at kitchen closet with washing dishes items, bamboo brushes, eco friendly sponge and textile towel
(Image credit: brizmaker via Getty Images)

Not only am I a professional home organizer, but I’m a mom, a wife, a daughter, and an owner of two businesses. I keep my home and office organized, so my day-to-day tasks flow as smoothly as possible.  

When my house gets cluttered or unorganized, I struggle to focus and stay on task. So, it’s worth it to me to take 20 minutes out of my day to freshen up a space and commit time to decluttering my home

It’s incredible what an impact you can make quickly and how that small task can enhance your mood and free up brain space!

Organizing tasks that take 20 minutes or less

Set a timer on your phone and get ready to power through these easy home-organizing tasks. With a little focus – and your favorite tunes to accompany you – you'll have a visibly tidier home in 20 minutes or less: 

1. Clear Your Entryway Drop Zone

entryway by California Daydreams

(Image credit: California Daydreams)

Where do you place things when you and your family walk through the door? Chances are your entryway drop zone needs to be cleaned out. If there is a lot of overflow in this space, it’s a sign that you need a new system. Here's how I suggest you go about organizing an entryway:

  • Go through the piles of mail, the papers brought home from school, and all of the little things that land in a pile as you empty your hands.
  • Recycle as much mail as possible right away before the mail ends up in a pile.
  • Put invitations or items that require action in one spot and notices or things for reference in a place to be scanned to your computer.
  • If school papers are overwhelming, create a drawer in your child’s bedroom for school papers they want to keep. Your child can then decide whether the paper should be recycled or stored in their room. 
  • I also go through jackets, hoodies, and tote bags that gather on our hall tree. Some things will stay, so I’ll make them look tidier, and other things should be stored elsewhere or tossed.

Having this space refreshed next time you come home from a long day will feel so good!

2. Conquer Your Junk Drawer

metal horse sculpture on chest of drawers

(Image credit: Future PLC)

It’s time to think of your junk drawer as a utility drawer. Conquering the dreaded junk drawer is a task that will no doubt need to be repeated often, as this drawer collects things that should probably be thrown away. A utility drawer, on the other hand, is handy for the random things you need, such as ink pens, scratch pads, rubber bands, chip clips, etc.

Everything in your utility drawer should have a home, so when someone tries to toss something in it that doesn’t belong, it will be evident that it should go somewhere else. This is how I organize this space:

  • Set a timer, and don’t get sucked into the details. Empty the drawer and put everything on the counter.
  • Sort as quickly as you can and commit to throwing away as much as you can. Now is not the time to test every door to see which lock the random key works.
  • Use drawer organizers to create sections in the drawer (you may need to measure for drawer organizers beforehand) and start loading it up with your most-used items in the front and the least-used items in the back.

Ultimately, you may have a small pile of things you need to figure out.  Does your partner need the receipt? (Probably not.) Are these batteries good or dead?  Do you still have the lock for this key?  Is this screw important?  (Again, probably not.) Go through these items quickly, and call your project done!

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3. Refresh Your Pantry

yellow pantry cupboard appliance garage painted in farrow and ball hay

(Image credit: Alice Grace Interiors)

Organizing a pantry can be a huge task, but you can easily give it a fresh look without using your whole weekend. Here's what I suggest:

  • First, go through each shelf and get rid of anything expired or that you know will not be eaten. Sometimes, a new snack is a flop, and you may as well donate it to a food bank rather than keep it.
  • Then, you’ll remove as much packaging as you can. If you use canisters, fill them up and toss the packaging. If you have bins for items, load them up and recycle the food boxes. Removing as much retail packaging as possible will quickly give your pantry a fresh look.
  • The last step is relatively simple but makes a difference. Turn all of your products to face the same way. This may seem silly, but the goal is to make an impact quickly, so this is perfect. Instead of your cans facing every which way, turn them so the label faces out. Repeat this with spaces, cereal boxes, etc. A retail shelf looks messy when things are placed the same way and in a line, so look at your pantry through the same lens.

Voila! Your pantry is refreshed in the blink of an eye, and you just may be inspired to cook this weekend.

4. Organize Your Linen Closet

Organizing a linen closet

(Image credit: Future)

Organizing a linen closet is one of my favorite places to organize because it’s easy and feels like a bit of luxury. This is how I suggest you go about it in 20 minutes or less: 

  • Most of us have more towels and bed sheets than we need, so think about how many of each you need in your home. Pull out the ones that look worn and tired and donate or recycle them. 
  • Refold the towels and bed sheets so they look neat and tidy. If you need to add some structure to the shelves, you can use baskets, bins, or shelf dividers.
  • Use a small basket to hold toiletries for guests and another basket to hold extra toiletries and toilet paper.

5. Clean Out The Fridge

Fridge

(Image credit: GettyImages)

Have an extra 20 minutes? This task is similar to the pantry refresh: 

  •  Clean out expired food and food you know will not be eaten.
  • Remove as much retail packaging as possible.
  • Give the shelves a good wipe-down.
  • As you put things back, ensure that items are lined up neatly and facing the same direction (this is a simple way to organize your fridge aesthetically).

You can do all five of these tasks in less than two hours. That’s a huge impact in a short amount of time. Turn on some music, set a timer, and get moving!

Caroline Roberts
Contributing expert

Caroline Roberts, a certified KonMari Consultant and professional organizer, founded the organizing agency The Simplified Island in 2019. Caroline believes being organized goes much deeper than pretty bins and can be life-changing. She recognized her organizing and streamlining skills were unique as she ran her marketing agency, Coastal Connections Marketing, and raised her two sons.