Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Great cleaning & organizing advice

One of the best pieces of advice I have heard about cleaning and organizing is

"If it takes less than a minute or two, just do it."

I don't remember where I heard it first but I have heard it several times in a couple different forms. The first time I heard it I believe the advice was "If it takes less than 30 seconds, just do it." Well, I can convince myself that most things that I don't want to do are going to take more than 30 seconds (true or not.) Thirty seconds is only half a minute, that's nothing.

Then I heard the form I agree with, "If it takes less than a minute or two, just do it." While I can talk myself out of doing lots of things because they are going to take more than 30 seconds, most of them can be completed in less than two minutes.

Often, if I do the job right away (instead of putting it off) it will save me time overall. Even if it won't save me time, they are often things that I am glad to just be finished with.

Here are a few examples:

One of my monthly jobs is to vacuum the dust ruffle on my bed. (I have a black dog that likes to rub up against it.) I remember last month realizing I was supposed to vacuum the dust ruffle right after I got finished wrapping up the cord for the vacuum. I really didn't want to unwind the cord and plug it back in, just to vacuum that small piece of fabric. Those words "If it takes less than a minute or two, just do it." popped into my head. So, grudgingly, I did it. When I was finished, I was glad I did.

Another great example is washing plastic bags. Unless absolutely necessary, I try not to throw away plastic storage bags. I like to wash them out and reuse them. Unfortunately, I hate washing them out. So, I let them pile up until they look like this:

and this

Once they get to that stage it takes a lot longer to deal with them than if I would just wash them out as I use them. Last week, I finished cleaning up the dishes and there were two plastic bags sitting on the counter staring at me. I so wanted to walk away and just deal with them later. Again, "If it takes less than a minute or two, just do it." popped into may head. So, I did it (even though I wasn't happy about it.) I know that it took very little time to do then and I didn't have those bags on the counter constantly mocking me, making me feel bad for not dealing with them.

A last example just happened over the weekend. My husband was out of town so as a treat the kids got to sleep on the trundle bed in the office. I made the mistake of looking under the bed before I pushed the trundle back under. This is what I saw

what you can't really see is the extent of the dust. Look at this:

I so wanted to just push the bed back. I hadn't planned on cleaning under there. I didn't want to. I had other things I wanted to do. But, those words just wouldn't let me leave the mess. I timed myself and it took 3:14 to finish it. That is over a minute or two but my son was also in there "helping" me and that could've added time. Even if he didn't add time, 3:14 is still not very much time. While I'm not convinced cleaning under there at that moment saved me any time in the long run (like some other tasks might) it still gave me peace of mind. I felt better knowing I cleaned it up than I would have if I had left it.

So, my advice, if it takes less than a minute or two, just do it (especially if it is something you really don't want to do.)

I'm linking up to Works for Me Wednesday at We are THAT Famiy.


  1. I like that concept. I often think about how long I put something off that bothers me every time I look at it, when it actually only takes a moment to remedy the situation to begin with.

  2. I have the same zipper bag pile in my kitchen! A good rule to remember. Guess I'll go wash them...

  3. I am very, very bad about seeing something I need to do and thinking oh I'll do it later. I totally agree that it usually ends up being alot more work. This is a pharse I need to start using regularly myself!

  4. Good stuff! When I am in the habit of using the same rule I accomplish a lot more!

  5. why, oh why, does the underside of beds get SO dusty, when there is a dust ruffle on there? those dust ruffles don't do too well keeping dust out, do they? LOL. I have the same problem! gets GROSS under there!