What can you do in 5 minutes to get organized?

It’s no secret that time flies, so we want to make the most of every minute. Use your spare moments efficiently and you’ll not only feel more organized, you’ll also free up larger chunks of time to either spend with your friends and family or enjoy on your own.

Below is a list of 10 things you can do in 5 minutes or less. Taking small action steps  like this is a great way to beat procrastination and overcome the feelings of  overwhelm. Any time you can squeeze in one of these bite-sized tasks, you’ll get immediate gratification. And you’ll be making progress towards your organizing goals – because the best way for a little turtle to eat a big strawberry is one bite at a time!


10 things you can do (to get more organized) in 5 minutes or less.

  1. Clean out your wallet/purse: toss gum wrappers, scraps of paper and old tissues; file receipts and business cards.
  2. Toss out any spoiled food from the refrigerator.
  3. Toss out any stale food from the pantry.
  4. Take excess shoes out of the hall closet or front hall and place them in the bedroom closets. Each family member should only keep one or two pairs of shoes (depending on space) by the door or hall closet.
  5. Sort through 3-5 file folders and shred what you don’t need. Keep a coloured folder upright in your filing cabinet to mark where you leave off.
  6. Go through your collection of coupons and toss the expired ones. Put the others in your purse or glove compartment of your car and use them next time you go shopping.
  7. Clear out one ‘junk drawer’; toss anything you don’t need or recognize. Divide the drawer by using old cheque book boxes or small plastic containers to keep similar items together.
  8. Go through your sock drawer and give up any socks without partners. If you haven’t worn panty hose since 2008, it’s time to toss those too!
  9. Gather all the wire hangers in your closet and put them in your car. Next time you go to the dry-cleaners, you can take them in for recycling.
  10. Scan the emails in your junk folder (to make sure nothing important ended up there) and then delete them.


You might want to print this list and post it in a prominent place.  Once you’ve fallen into the habit of using your spare minutes efficiently, you’ll free up time for the things you really want to do. If you have any other quick little tasks you do regularly, please share them with us in the comments below.

Share this:

This post has 16 comments

  • Lorraine says:

    Hellen, how did you know I’ve still got my old pantihose from before I retired in 2005?

  • Lynne says:

    Me too. Pantyhose from before I retired in 2002. lol

  • Lynne says:

    It takes less than 5 minutes for me to empty the dishwasher!!! Does that mean I do it before dirty dishes pile up on the counter? Not always!!

  • Suzanne says:

    Are we all going to admit to a stockpile of pantyhose? I used to belong to a hosiery club and received monthly shipments of hose. I have clear containers all sorted by colour and type unused for years… sort of a collection. It is as if I am afraid to use them and then not have some when I need them. Every once in a while I need to resort to an ‘old’ new pair (all in original packaging) in a pinch but I usually buy new and improved hose or tights as I need them and rarely go back to the collected hosiery. I feel a little cleansed now so maybe I will either give them away or force myself to deplete the old stock before I allow myself to purchase new pairs.
    Love your tips…

  • Lucy says:

    Great list! So often when I remember to do a small task like this while waiting on hold or something, I feel great satisfaction. Just got rid of some socks the other day, and switched sock drawer with workout/leggings drawer. Why? Because even a year after moving, I still opened the drawer that used to hold my socks instead of the newer one (muscle memory engrained in the brain over 12 years is hard to change, so I decided not to fight it).

  • Susan says:

    Before throwing no-longer-worn panty hose or knee-highs, or even natural fiber socks and tights — offer them to folks you know who do gardening; they make good ties/supports for climbing/tall plants. A local plant nursery might be interested, or a master gardener or composting expert in your area might appreciate them. Sometimes county agricultural extension agencies take certain donations of supplies that assist their eco-programs, and even safe canning/preserving education classes.

    Nursing/convalescent homes often will take medical-compression stockings for residents because they are expensive and not affordable for many who need them.

  • Susan says:

    While folding each load of clean laundry, I inspect for mending needs, and sort either to put away, or into that tub of repairs awaiting my sewing machine, or bag, if it only needs a hand-sewn button. Likewise while folding, if anything looks like it is not earning its real estate space in closet or drawer, that newly laundered item gets sorted into a donations carton, always labeled and kept in a designated spot that gets accessed at least once a month – as a reminder to donate as soon as it is full.

  • Simon says:

    Cute pic and great turtle analogy!! Along with #1 – Clean out your purse (ahem, or wallet) could also be “tidy your car”. It can take even less than 5 mins to pitch garbage or bring in jackets / sweaters that have been left in your car and I find a neat, organized interior provides a more relaxed environment (no road rage!!). You can even clean out those coupons that you forgot about in your glove compartment from #6 (sorry Hellen!) ;). In fact I’d love to see a whole We Organize U post on car organization…many people spend a big part of their day in their cars!

  • Ann says:

    I have been trying to find lots of pantyhose for a craft project. If you have some that you don’t want, please let me know before you throw them out. It is ok if they have runs or holes. My email is annberry91@nullaol.com.

  • Nancy says:

    It is a great list, but it is unfortunately not realistic for me to accomplish most of these suggestions in only 5 minutes. Each would take me 20, at least, except for the shoes and the junk mail. And I’ll admit to being very good about the food in the fridge. If you can’t eat it, it isn’t in there. If I think of any real 5 minute projects for a slowpoke like me, I’ll post them and would entertain any suggestions. Mostly, I since there are 4 of us in this apartment (2 adults, 2 kids – 13 &10), I need to figure out more strategies to encourage everyone to use that keeps the clutter at bay in the first place. We all inhabit the entire place, the bedrooms are terribly small and mostly it just seems like papers pile up everywhere!! And if it isn’t out in plain sight, I forget about it which is a disincentive to putting things away! Thanks.

  • Twila Peck says:

    My suggestion probably came as a FWD years ago. I get annoyed with all those panicky FWDs that tell you how you are in danger (from all sorts of things) and how to protect yourself — but this suggestion seemed to me to be a good, sensible, easy thing to do, and I did. I also update it from time to time.

    It also fits in the 5-minute category: Take all your cards (ID, credit, debit, etc) out of your wallet, and copy them. Hopefully you can fit them all onto one page! Flip them over and copy the backs, too. Now you have a record in case your wallet is lost or stolen.

    • Great idea Twila. I did this years ago too. When I go on vacation, I bring a photocopy of the credit cards I’m taking with me as well (with the contact numbers if the cards go missing). It’s nice to be prepared just in case.

      • Katherine Que'nelle says:

        Thanks so much Twila! I can’t believe I haven’t thought of doing this before.

        – Kate

    • Rosario says:

      Thank You Twilla! we tend to get comfortable great reminder.

      Also it is a good idea to photocopy your passport carry with you and keep the original in the safe in your hotel room.

  • Rosario says:


    In 5 minutes ….I can clear my cell inbox while in a waiting area specially the Dr’s office.

    When planning going on vacation I like to keep a container tagged TRIP and whatever comes to mind I will drop in the container, when ready to pack I can pick and choose if still not sure I am taking whit me,

    this works for me since most of time I take a flight wright after work.

    Thank you Hellen for reminding us about # 10.

    You are an inspiration!