Just 5 Minutes to Clear Spaces

Posted by Lisa Higdon, Professional Organizer on January 18, 2013  /   Posted in Blog

This week I decided that there was just too much “stuff” hanging around my house. Not in the “I have too many possessions, let me clear things out” stuff. It was more like the things that just don’t get put away. In other words – I needed to pick up after myself. It’s a simple concept, but one that can elude us in our busy lives. I decided to take one room each day, and make myself pick it up for five minutes. It didn’t matter if the whole room was not finished in that time. The point was just to do it. I put the challenge out there on my Facebook page, and got some takers.

On day one, I chose the dining room. It’s been a temporary office for me since December, and that has put a crimp on family dining. There were papers on the table, leftover Christmas cards, and mail that tends to get left there. In five minutes I got the holiday things taken care of, and sorted through some of the papers. Most of it could be recycled. Soon I’ll be moving back to my real office, and I’ll be able to finish this room. For now it did feel like I’m putting closure on the holidays.

On to the living room for day two. This room is used mostly for reading, and there are too many books lying around. There were magazines to toss, and books that belonged on shelves in different rooms. I decided that the only ones to be stored in the living room are ones that someone might be able to read for just a few minutes, such as a book of Garrison Keilor’s poems, and one about the New York State art collection. I found a lot of dust, and some lost gumdrops.

Some rooms are more of a challenge. Today I will be tackling the upstairs bath. There are things there that everyone must think belong to someone else. None of it seems to be being used. This will require a family meeting, but again, five minutes will easily do it. It will make a big difference in clearing the space out.

Overall this Pick Up Project has been a success. I could be concerned that it left no room perfect; but I prefer to think of it as leaving all the rooms improved. Although it started out as an exercise to get caught up on things, I’m planning to turn it into habit. By spending five minutes on one room each day. I expect that I’ll be less likely to get behind. Also – and this is really, really important – it should make me more mindful of what I leave around in the first place. This will create an upward spiral and things will just keep improving. It will prevent “emergency” situations when guests are coming. Try it this week. It’s easy to make a plan. Write on the calendar which room you will do each day. Just five minutes. Ready? Go!

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