15 Aug 2012

In just 15 minutes a day

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Everybody tries to take your money by selling you on the idea that it costs less than a dollar a day, or it only takes 10 minutes a day, and the results are “priceless”.  Go ahead, Google it.  I’ll wait.  Everything from vacuum cleaners to exercise equipment to dental insurance to learning a foreign language, the list goes on and on.

 People try to sell you things this way because there actually is value to the idea of spending a little bit of time, regularly, to accomplish something.  Think about it.  If you spend 15 minutes at something every day that adds up to more than 90 hours in a year.  More importantly, it won’t take a year of spending 15 minutes a day to develop a new habit.  If that habit is exercise, or straightening up your home, the results may very well be priceless.

There are lots of worthwhile things that you can do in only 15 minutes a day, but I’m only going to talk about organizing.  My top 7 are

1)  Do the dishes.  It’s amazing how much better you’ll feel when the kitchen sink is empty and the counter is clear.

2)  Sort the week’s mail and newspapers.  Keep in mind that if you haven’t read the newspaper in a week and the pile is growing, you’re not likely to ever catch up, so don’t try to read old news.  Just pull the coupons, if you use them, read the comics and recycle.  You’ll feel better, trust me.  As for the mail, most of it can probably be recycled, too, some without even being opened.  As for the bills ….

3)  Balance your checkbook and pay the bills.  Okay, if you’re sloppy at math or haven’t done it in a while then balancing the checkbook could take longer the first time, but it does get easier and faster.  And paying the bills will give you a feeling of relief, especially if you only just found the cut off notice.

 4)  Clear a surface.  Sometimes this is a part of going through the newspapers and mail, and it might very well be a pre-requisite to paying the bills.  But clearing a counter, table or the mantlepiece also means finding the proper place for all the other things you find, like those keys you were looking for yesterday.

5)  Many people have houseplants.  Some folks always think about green things, but since they don’t scratch at the door or jump into your lap they are remarkably easy to neglect.  Take this time to prune the dead and dying parts, dust the living parts and water the dry parts.  If they’re carniverous, feed them.  The extra color, the extra oxygen, and fewer flies will make you smile.

6)  Open a drawer or your closet door.  Start trying on clothes.  If they fit, are in decent repair and look good then put them back.  Otherwise, put them in a bag or a box to deal with later.  This will make your life easier every morning.

7)  Gather up unused items for donation.  This includes some of the clothes you tried on in #6 and some of the items you uncovered in #4 as well as anything else you just haven’t used in a while and can’t imagine when you will again.  Some good places to start looking for items are the hall closet and the kitchen.  Old coats get pushed to the back of the closet and bright shiny only used once appliances get shoved on to the top shelves in the kitchen.  Things that you don’t use anymore will find welcome homes among those less fortunate.

That’s my top 7 things.  After a week of improving your life you may discover that you’re hooked on it.  And all it take is 15 minutes a day.

About the Author

works mostly behind the scenes at Conquer the Clutter, supporting Maria's efforts to make the world a neater place to live.

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