My Mini Maintenance Mode (week 1)

posted by Andrea | 05/31/2017

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. 

What mini maintenance mode projects have you tackled lately?


Filed under: OrganizingHomeMisc.

Leave a comment


  1. Lane


    I do a lot of things things on the regular myself. It’s much easier to tackle these little “projects” when you think of it. However, one thing that’s been bugging me for a long time (like months!) is our crumby silverware drawer. I keep putting off cleaning it out, because in my mind I need to do ALL the drawers and cabinets, not just the one drawer (hello overwhelming!). You’ve inspired me to just take it one drawer at a time – starting with the silverware! 🙂


    Andrea Reply:

    yay — clean up that silverware drawer!


  2. Nicole


    Such a great post to remind me of the little things I do and don’t realize… and to remind me to do the garbage cans… ugh! I hate that job! As your littles get bigger, you may find the Artkive app helpful. I have four children and love that I can snap a picture of their art work, file it under their age or grade and then throw the paper away. There is also a feature to automatically make a book of their work, although I haven’t done that yet.

    Also, I thought you might be interested to know that as a pediatric occupational therapist…. the only crayons I let my students use are broken ones! They are great for digital strength and encourage the most efficient pencil grasp. I even make my students break brand new crayons at the beginning of the school year to the horror of some collegues!


    Andrea Reply:

    haha — good to know about the crayons!! However, I seriously can not STAND small bits of broken crayons, so I’ll probably keep letting the kids use full-size crayons for now 🙂


  3. Stephanie


    I enjoyed this post. I do the same thing! It makes keeping the house clean and organized much less overwhelming by keeping up with it. We have a large family and have really streamlined things by decluttering and simplifying, which also tremendously helps. I identified with your cleaning out the gutters when pregnant. Toward the end of one of my pregnancies, I got the urge to trim the bushes in the front of our house. I made sure I drank a lot of water and rested a lot but I had to get it done!


    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Stephanie! I’m sure your bushes looked fabulous!


  4. Jessy


    You inspired me to get out of my chair and dump the kitchen utensil drawer. Took about 7 minutes. Tossed a couple of things and wiped out the organizer. Done! It’s been irritating me for weeks!


    Andrea Reply:

    Yay! So glad to hear this!! Just think how much less annoyed you’ll be every time you open your utensil drawer!


  5. Sarah C


    I like to clean out our medicine cabinet while my girls are taking a bath. I go through the boxes and purge old or yucky stuff.


    Andrea Reply:

    ah yes, so many things in the bathroom to sort and/or organized during bath time! I often clean the toilet, sink, and counters during bath time.


  6. Kristen


    I loved this post!! Making use of those little pockets of time is something I definitely strive for, so seeing the little things you do, and when you can fit them in, is SO helpful as a concrete example. Thanks so much for making an effort to remember all the projects you did 🙂


    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Kristen! It was kind of encouraging for me too — to look back and see everything I accomplished (even though some days it felt like I got nothing done).


  7. wilma


    We have similar minds 😉 Well, except that I do not sew. I love the idea of cutting off the pants that are too short into shorts, since most of the wear is in the knees, anyway.

    Small household tasks I’ve done: gone through my shoes, donating all those old pumps that I am not wearing even though I’m back at work; kids’ clothes (always); purchasing a bunch of little things we need from online Walmart (it’s pretty awesome, and free delivery!!); going through the spices, refilling bottles, discarding old ones and making a list of ones that are getting low; wiping out below the sink; refilling vinegar/water spray bottles (this is what I use to clean, most of the time); going through the kids’ miscellaneous bins, discarding broken toys, donating unused ones; cleaning the window screens (in the shower, haha), etc. etc.

    I find that the tasks I like least are really not that bad and don’t take up a lot of time–the thinking about them is honestly worse than just doing them! I’m like this with mowing the lawn (because I HATE the cord for the electric mower)–but in the end, it really does not take so lawn (small-ish suburban lot), and it looks so nice!

    I love these posts.


    Andrea Reply:

    I’m fairly confident there are lots and lots and lots of people who would agree with your statement about “the tasks I like least are really not that bad and don’t take up lots of time”. I hate cleaning out the dishwasher — but it only takes 5 minutes. I also dislike vacuuming the stairs, but that only takes 3-5 minutes too.



  8. Lee Winemiller Cockrum


    Honestly I need to focus on getting into this mode of thinking. I don’t like most household tasks, so I end up leaving them till they are overwhelming.

    But the main reason I was responding is that I keep my holey or single socks for cleaning. This probably wouldn’t work for kids socks as they are so small, and possibly not cotton. I generally notice they have a hole when I am matching them up after washing. I usually cut a slit in the cuff so that it is obvious that they are “rags”, and then toss them under the kitchen sink. Then when there is a “yucky” cleaning job I have a sturdy fabric rag to scrub with, and I don’t feel guilty about tossing it in the trash!


    Rachael Reply:

    An FYI on the holy socks too: Goodwill usually takes holy socks (although we do the rag thing too)! (I’d ask your local one if you’re not sure)


    Jess Reply:

    I do the same thing!


    Julia Reply:

    I should really do this with my (husband’s) holey socks! Though we don’t use many paper towels, this would definitely help us cut that down even more.


    Lee Winemiller Cockrum Reply:

    I also cut up any cotton shirts or pants that are not good enough to be worn anymore. Fill up hubby’s rag boxes in basement and my rag stash.


    Andrea Reply:

    Everything always seems more overwhelming when we put it off and put it off 🙂

    And yes, holey socks can be great cleaning rags!