Decluttering Cure

I Bet You Can Tackle Your Cluttered Living Room in Just 20 Minutes, and Here’s How

updated Mar 18, 2020
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(Image credit: Photographed by Susie Lowe, Designed by The Pink House)

People are surprised to know that the hardest-working weapon in my cleaning arsenal is my phone’s built-in timer. It’s a workhorse for two reasons: First, because I find it easier to muster up the energy to get chores done when I give myself a mental limit. “You only have to clean for 20 minutes, Taryn. You’ll be done just in time for Jeopardy.”

Second, and maybe more importantly, when I do time my tasks, I’m usually surprised at how little time it takes to finish a task. Twenty minutes doesn’t sound like a lot of time to pick up a messy living room, but if you stay dedicated to the task, I bet you’ll be shocked at how much you can get done.

(Image credit: Marisa Vitale)

Today’s Assignment

Pick up as much as you can in your living room in 20 minutes.

If you don’t have much to pick up, then this mission really handles itself. But even if your living room is a problem area, you can make magic happen with a gameplan. Knowing where to look and what to look for helps. Grab a laundry basket or another similar totable container and pick up anything that looks out of place.

Where to Look:

  • on (and under) the coffee table
  • under and around the sofa
  • consoles and sofa tables
  • side tables
  • cubbies/drawers
  • bookcases
  • entertainment center

What to look for:

  • toys
  • books/magazines
  • cds/dvds
  • electronics
  • drinking glasses and mugs
  • random objects and decor
  • shoes, handbags and accessories where they don’t belong
  • in-progress hobbies or projects

When time is up, you can stop tidying and start working on getting everything in the laundry basket back to its rightful home—even if that home is the trash can or a donation center. The more you can streamline your stuff, the easier your next 20-minute tidy will be.

And don’t forget…

We’re still chipping away at our monster zone as part of the September Sweep. Remove one more thing from your most cluttered space and sort it away to find another home.

Want to catch up with Apartment Therapy’s September Sweep decluttering plan? You can see all of the month’s assignments right here.