For someone who writes A LOT about organization, I rarely ever share before/after organizing posts — you know, the ones where I show messy “before” pictures and neatly organized “after” pictures.
This is NOT because I don’t do organizing projects around my home… but rather, because I almost never do big, massive, organizing projects where I can show the amazing transformation from a room of total chaos to a blissfully organized oasis.
Instead, I do very small organizing projects throughout my home on a regular and ongoing basis. These projects take me anywhere from 2-20 minutes and are often things I don’t even put on my to-do list or plan ahead to do. Rather, they are last-minute decisions I make when I see something messy and know I have a few extra minutes to better organize that tiny space in my home.
They are not things I do weekly or with any sort of routine — but they are all things that eventually need to happen to keep our home in order.
Since I am regularly asked to share more about the organizing projects I do around my home, I thought it might be fun to start a series of posts dedicated to the various different projects I do to KEEP my home organized — maybe once a month.
Most of these projects will be relatively small projects (if you can really even call them “projects”) but every once in a while, I’ll have a bigger project tossed in when I realize a certain system isn’t working for our family anymore.
Today, I’m sharing the Mini Maintenance Mode projects I tackled last week… at least the ones I remembered to write down!
Wiped out the insides of our trash cans.
I hate doing this and usually only do it once a year (or if something spills.) It was time, it only took a few minutes, and now I’m finished!
I’m guessing this took me 15 minutes total for 3 bathroom trashcans, 1 laundryroom can, and 1 kitchen can.
Snaked the bathroom drains.
This all started when I was cleaning our bathroom and realized Dave’s sink was draining slowly. So I got out our trusty drain snake and went to work. I decided to do my sink as well — since I already had the snake out.
Then, I did the other 2 bathrooms when I cleaned those later in the day.
It probably took me an extra 3 minutes per sink to take the stopper out, snake the drain and put the stopper back in.
Refilled all the hand soap dispensers.
I was on a roll in the bathrooms last week — and decided to quickly refill all the bathroom and kitchen soap dispensers since our new soap refills just came in the mail from Grove.
This probably took me 5-7 minutes to fill all 3 of our soap dispensers.
Washed the throw blankets in the living room.
The number of times Dave and I have actually used our throw blankets to keep warm while watching TV pales in comparison to the number of times our children haul out all the blankets to make forts, beds, tents, hide-outs, etc.
I would estimate that, on average, all the throw blankets come out at least twice a day. So yes, they eventually need to be washed — and last week was the week. I got them all in one load and didn’t even bother to fold them. I just shoved them back in the basket under our TV cabinet!
This took me less than 10 minutes to shove them in the washing machine, transfer them to the dryer, and put them back into the “blanket basket” once they were dry.
Cleaned out the gutters.
Before your freak out at the thought of a pregnant lady on a ladder, let me just tell you that it was a only a small section of gutters and the lowest gutters we have (I only needed a 6 ft. ladder).
Almost all the gutters on our house have gutter screens or gutter helmets to keep the junk out; we just have one smaller section by our deck and our garage that don’t accommodate the helmets so we have to clean those out every spring after the helicopters are finished flying and every fall after the leaves fall. It’s probably about 30 feet total and took me roughly 15 minutes.
Wiped out crumbs in the silverware drawer.
At one point last week, almost every single one of our utensils was in the dishwasher — and I immediately noticed how many crumbs where in our silverware drawer. So before I cleaned out the dishwasher, I quickly wiped out the silverware caddy.
Good as new in less than 5 minutes!
Wiped down the shelves in the refrigerator.
I let our refrigerator get quite empty last week; before I got groceries, I wiped down all the shelves. I didn’t get inside the drawers — I’ll save that for another day.
This definitely took less than 5 minutes and made a big difference!
Threw out holey socks.
I still can’t comprehend how Dave can wear socks with holes in them and just toss them in the laundry at the end of the day instead of into the trashcan. My kids are the same way! You’d think the hole would bug them — but I guess not.
Anyway, as I was folding laundry, I paid special attention to all the socks and tossed any with holes.
I’m honestly not sure this took any extra time on my part, just a little bit of extra attention.
Purged and organized kids’ clothing.
As you’ll probably notice, I go through our kids’ clothing on a VERY regular basis — sometimes every month because they grow out of things so quickly. My kids love trying on clothing, so it’s very easy to get them to try things on to see if the clothing is too small or not.
We gave a small bag of Nora’s clothes to a neighbor friend, we passed a small stack of Simon’s clothes to James, and I purged EVERYTHING that is too small for James (wow, did that feel great!)
I also cut some of Nora and Simon’s too-short pants into capris and shorts (more on that later this week).
I worked on this project in stages as various children were available to try on clothing — but usually just in 5-10 minute intervals.
Cleaned my computer screen and wiped down my desk area.
I use my glass-cleaning cloth to clean my computer screen, and I had the glass cloth out when I was cleaning mirrors last week, so I quickly wiped down my computer screen as well. This prompted me to also wipe down the entire desk area — which was dustier than I realized!
This project took less than 5 minutes.
Threw out broken crayons and dried up markers.
I’ve had this little project in the back of my mind for weeks now as I’ve noticed more and more broken crayons and dried up markers when the kids color. So one day, while they were coloring, I tested markers and tossed broken crayons.
I told the kids we would stock up with a few new craft supplies when I find a good deal 🙂
This really took no extra time because we were just coloring anyway.
Made a packet of Nora’s preschool papers for her to save.
Most of you know that I am not a sentimental person and I don’t save papers. However, Nora’s teachers sent home a huge amount of school things on her last day of school and I figured we would save 1 folder full of goodies (at least for now).
Nora is having a great time showing her preschool folder to grandparents (and basically anyone who stops by our house)!
This took me about 15 minutes to put together since some of the work was already done by her teachers.
Straightened the area under the kitchen sink.
We ran out of dish soap and dishwasher tabs on the same day, so as I was refilling and restocking our supply, I decided to tidy up the area under the sink — including wiping out the bin of cleaning supplies and throwing a few older items away.
This took about 10 minutes but I did it while I was waiting for water to boil and stirring pasta before dinner.
Rearranged the deep freezer to make more room.
I definitely didn’t take everything out like I would if I were defrosting it. Instead, I took 5 minutes to quickly rearrange a few of the shelves and consolidate smaller items to open up lots more space.
I usually do this every few weeks when I’m down there putting groceries away — it’s amazing how things seem to shift and take up so much more space than if they are nicely stacked. Plus, these few minutes provide a great opportunity to visually scan the contents of my freezer so I don’t forget about that one container of chili way in the back 🙂
I realize this might sound like a normal list to some of you who do these things all the time… and it might sound like a really long list to others — but considering each of these “projects” took mere minutes to complete, it truly isn’t that time consuming or overwhelming at all (especially drawn out over an entire week).
I fit them in the “cracks” between other daily and weekly projects like spreading mulch, doing laundry, making dinner, cleaning up construction messes, and playing with my kids.
In my opinion, doing these little projects on a consistent, ongoing basis is what helps me to keep my home neat and organized with very little extra effort. I’m always doing something small, so it never feels like I’m doing much of anything at all.
Hopefully that makes sense!!
Honestly, I have a feeling it took MORE effort for me to consciously keep track of all these little projects so I could write this post — and I’m sure I’ve missed a bunch that I didn’t even think about enough to write down.
It has become a habit for me to constantly look for these little opportunities to better my home in a few minutes… and because it’s a habit, it no longer feels like a huge extra effort.