Here’s the Best Way to Work Through a Big Mess of a Closet… In Just 30 Minutes

published Jan 9, 2019
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
(Image credit: Liz Calka)
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

The January Cure is all about refreshing and organizing your home for 2019. We tackle one assignment each weekday throughout the entire month. It’s not too late to sign up, and you can visit the Cure page to catch up with the assignments so far.

When online recipes make a distinction between “prep time” and “cook time,” it’s an admission that the time it takes to complete something isn’t just about the active moments. You also have to allow for the waiting. I suspect that’s true for chores, too, in practice. It can take a long time to psych yourself up to do certain things around the house, but it doesn’t have to.

I read a brilliant article recently by Amanda Mull for The Atlantic about why it takes us humans a while to get around to finishing very simple, small tasks. “Walking my recycling from my apartment to the trash room down the hall takes me anywhere from two minutes to a month,” she wrote. The cause of this affliction is complex (I’d read that article if you’re interested), but I know one treatment that might help—especially for some of the bigger things on your to-do list—and it’s right here in today’s Cure assignment.

When you dedicate a limited amount of time to getting a task done, it’s harder to push it aside. A timer sets an expectation—”I’ll just spend 30 minutes on this tonight”—and keeps you focused on only the work that will make the biggest impact.

Let’s get started…

(Image credit: Minette Hand)

Today’s Assignment: Do a 30-minute closet cleanout

Set a timer and get busy decluttering one closet—any closet—at home.

It can be your clothes closet, or the catchall storage closet. And it doesn’t have to be the messiest one, or the one you use the most—just choose any closet that will benefit from a little attention tonight.

Grab a vacuum, a trash bag, a bag or bin to represent a transient “outbox,” and a timer (the app on your phone will do just fine) and head to the closet. Set the timer for 30 minutes and get to work. Straighten things up, cast things you’re not sure you need to the outbox, and vacuum up dust and dirt. Don’t worry about how far you’ll get or even think about whether it will be “finished” today.

When your alarm rings at the end of 30 minutes, unplug the vacuum and wrap things up.

If you feel that you’ve left things unfinished when time is up, take a moment to assess what else needs to happen for the closet to be in really good shape, then estimate how much time it will take you to complete that on another day. Because for today, we’re done!

While today’s assignment is focused on attacking one particular cluttered area at home, my hope is that you’ll use the experience to help you “time-and-tackle” different areas all over your space. You can work on even the biggest projects incrementally. And after today’s assignment, now you know that for smaller more manageable tasks, 30 minutes is plenty of time to get them done. You can get to a clean and organized home in a half hour—without totally derailing the rest of your life.

Before you go, let us all know what closet you’re going to tackle today. Or if you’re finished, come back and tell us how it went. Did you feel good about how much you were able to accomplish?

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Download the printable PDF calendar: January Cure 2019

Share your progress on Instagram: #thejanuarycure