How to Get Your House Clean in 15 Minutes a Day
When it comes to getting your house clean and organized as a busy mom you need to find a system that fits into your busy schedule, lets you get things organized fast, and helps you be less stressed.
I’ve tried every system out there. Some have stuck and some have fallen to the side. I have cluttered my house with checklists and calendars in hopes that I’d finally get more organized. I’ve tried every planner, read a ton of productivity and organizational books, and downloaded more podcasts about productivity for moms that I’d care to share.
In the end, I have found that in order to create simple systems that stick, a few things work better for me than others. I like something that gives me a quick and easy win. I like it when I can add systems into my busy day and they don’t feel like ‘another thing’ I have to add to my planner. And I LOVE when I can incorporate my whole family (including the kids) so that it’s not just a system that works for me but, one where everyone can pitch in too.
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How to Decrease Clutter Fast
Clutter triggers my anxiety and cleaning it can be my biggest procrastinator. As a work at home mom, one of the things that get in my way of productivity the most is when I start to think about all of the things I ‘should’ be doing instead of work. Staring at the piles of laundry, the overflowing dishes, and the mounds of papers that need my attention is a recipe for disaster.
A few years ago, I decided that I needed to develop a system that helped me clean up without taking a ton of time and allowed me to just feel like I could breathe a little bit better.
Enter the 15 minute pick up.
The 15 minute pick up has become a regular nighttime routine in my home and one that we do a few times a week when the mess gets too unruly and needs some attention.
While we all try to keep our homes as clutter-free as possible, do our best to stay on top of the daily chores and messes, and just do our best, life happens. The mess will always pile up (and in my house that can be daily) and if you don’t have a plan of attack for what to do when that happens, you can get paralyzed by it.
A 15 minute pick up is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. You stop what you’re doing for 15 straight minutes and pick up. Sounds simple right? Well, it is!
But, there are some things that I do that make it work better than other strategies I have tried.
Why a 15 Minute Pick Up to Decrease Clutter?
The 15 minute pick up works for a few reasons.
- We waste 15 minutes doing a lot of things throughout our day so that time doesn’t seem like a crazy long amount of time.
- When you put on a timer for 15 minutes and just release yourself from feeling like you have to do everything, you’ll find you get more done that you’ve planned and you’ll most likely go over the 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, with some (or all) clutter removed, your anxiety will lessen and you’ll be able to work on whatever tasks you need without distraction.
- While 15 minutes doesn’t seem like a lot of time, it is enough to allow you to feel super productive and proud of yourself for what you did get done.
- 15 minutes is really enough time for your kids to play by themselves (even if you have toddlers like me) without needing you or enough time to keep their attention spans to help you with the pick up.
How to do a 15 minute pick up
I am sure there are a lot of ways to get organized and do a 15 minute pick up but here is what works best for me and my productivity.
1. Pick the room that you’re in the most
Sometimes when we want to clean up, we start with rooms that don’t matter the most because they can be easier and we don’t want to face the mess in another room. For me, I always start with our dining room and kitchen. These two rooms are attached and the place where we eat dinner, throw papers, do crafts and play, stack recycling and trash, and generally just get the messiest.
I do a 15 minute pick up in this room every single day. I’ve added it to my nighttime routine and daily closeout because I know that if I wake up to this area being a mess, I’m going to feel behind already and super stressed.
The room that you’re spending the most time in is often the worst and is therefore scary to start with. Trust me, you may not get everything done in 15 minutes but, just starting and making a small dent will matter.
2. Put on a timer and some music (or a podcast)
The power of the 15 minutes pick up is all in the timer. Just by setting a timer, you know that you won’t be cleaning forever and there is something magical in that. Often when we just say we’re going to ‘clean the bathroom’ or ‘straighten up’, it can be daunting to even get started. Knowing that you just have to get going for 15 minutes will really change your mindset.
What I also often find happens is, after the 15 minutes are up, I keep going until I finish a little more of that room. If my timer goes off and I just have to do a quick sweep of the kitchen, I’m more likely to just take the extra few minutes and clean it up.
15 minutes also you to be really proud of all that you get done. You’ll be amazed at how much you’re actually going to get done and what can really get accomplished.
Adding music or a podcast to the routine makes the time go so much faster! I love listening to a podcast while I fold laundry or cook dinner because it makes these things seem less like a chore and the time just zooms by.
3. Start with what is most cluttered
Often the most cluttered areas of our living spaces include our counters and tables so I often start there.
For my typical 15 minute declutter (that one that I do every night before bed) I follow this order;
- Kitchen counters
- Dining Room Table
- Load Dishes and Empty Sink
- Wipe Counters
- Take out Trash
- Sweep Floors
Some days I get through the entire list and some days I barely get to my dishes. If I had a day where I did my morning routine and emptied the dishwasher, I find that most of my dishes have already been loaded and can make it through the entire list.
Again, whatever doesn’t get done at the end of the 15 minutes you can leave or keep going. It really is up to you but I know that you’ll be surprised by how much you’ll actually finish when that timer goes off!
4. Get help from your family
This 15 minute pick up is not meant to be yet another thing added to mom’s already busy day. It’s meant to be an easy tool that everyone can help out with – yes even the little ones!
I do this as my nightly routine but, there are times on a Saturday afternoon or randomly during the week where we need to clean up and, instead of doing it all myself, my family can easily jump in and help.
While you do your own pickup, think of the things that your kids can help with. While my 16 months old pretty much just makes a bigger mess or can get in the way, my 3 and 12-year-olds can hold their own in terms of picking up.
Identify in advance which things you know that they can do and, spend time during the day to start to teach those chores. For example, my daughter loves to spray and dust or do the windows so I make sure to take the time to show her how to do them properly. This way, when it’s time for the cleanup, I can let work on that task without having to stop and redirect her a bunch.
Before you start the timer, assign each person a task or zone to do. If I know that I can pretty much do the dining room and kitchen alone in my 15 minutes, I’ll assign the kids the playroom or living room. The 12-year-old is great at helping them get things done and even the 1.5-year-old can put his blocks away (even if he just knocks them over right afterward)