I'm a professional organizer, and I swear by these 5 time-saving habits

Drastically reduce the time it takes to tidy and organize your home by adopting these 5 expert-approved time-saving habits

Three images of clear and orderly interiors
(Image credit: Future / James Merrell)

I used to take great pride in my productivity and efficiency. My home was full of belongings, and the calendar was jam-packed with appointments and meetings, and I needed every time-saving trick in the book.

After decluttering my home and my obligations, I found that I had much more free time for leisure. I promise you can drastically reduce your own time spent on chores around the house if you adopt these five time-saving habits. 

1: Don’t put an item down. Put it away.

Relaxed, minimalist style bathroom with dark wood shelving unit, open and closed storage, low open shelves storing white towels, two decorative vases with leaf stems, arch window, white painted walls.

(Image credit: Kimberly Harrison Interiors)

This is one of my favorite habits. Though our default is usually to place something on a counter, it usually takes the same amount of time or mere moments longer to put it where it belongs. 

It may be OK to place one or two things on the counter rather than putting them away, but the problem is when those one or two things accumulate and become four, five, or more things.

Once your counter is covered in clutter, clearing it becomes a chore. We want to avoid additional chores, so we put things away rather than put things down.

2: Never leave a room empty-handed.

I feel like I’m constantly moving objects from one room to another, so I’ve gotten into the habit of taking a quick scan before I go to a different room to see what I can take to put away.

Is there a toy that needs to go back upstairs? A book I want by my bed? A sock that needs to go in the dirty clothes hamper? I’m already headed to that room, so taking something with me is very simple.

Top tip: Keep some empty storage baskets to hand to easily corral your clutter and transport it from one room to the next. 

3: Think before you buy.

Did you notice that the first two habits involve moving things around and putting things away? Our 'stuff' not only costs us money, but it also costs us time! One of the most essential time-saving habits is to pause and think before you buy something. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • Is the item an impulse purchase or something you’ve been wanting?
  • What kind of maintenance does the item require?
  • Can you wait a few days before making the purchase?
  • What would happen if you didn’t buy the item?

Top tip: Unless the item is essential, give yourself a week or two to think about the purchase. If your heart is still set on buying it after this time, it might be worth going ahead with the transaction. However, it's likely you'll no longer feel that urge to press 'add to cart'. 

4. Use Timers When Tackling a To-Do List

kitchen countertops in large kitchen

(Image credit: Future PLC)

We have so many “inputs” in our lives that it’s easy to get distracted, so I rely on a timer to help me stay focused. If I have one project I need to knock out, I think about how long it should take and set a timer for that time. 

Knowing I’m being “timed” keeps me focused on the task. If I’m tackling what feels like an endless to-do list, I set a timer for about 30 minutes and see how much I can get done in that amount of time. I don’t scroll Instagram, check my email, or even refill my water during this time! I can do all those things as soon as the timer goes off. If you are like me and your mind tends to wander, try a timer next time you need to focus.

5. Prep food as soon as groceries arrive

As soon as groceries enter your home, prepare them for consumption. When I follow this tip, my week is much smoother! I don’t prep meals per se, but I wash, dry, and chop fruits and vegetables that we will eat as snacks or in meals. I create an assembly line in my kitchen and can do it quickly. I love that healthy options are prepared and ready for us during the week when we are busy with work, school, and sports.

Well, my timer just went off, so it’s time to wrap up this article. Most importantly, make sure you spend your time doing things you enjoy. Sure, we all have to do chores but ensure your calendar isn’t full of obligations that don’t matter. Use one or all five of these time-saving habits, and carve out some time to take care of yourself.

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.