Weekend Projects

Try This 10-Minute Tidy-Up to Reclaim Some of Your Mental and Physical Space

published May 1, 2020
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
Credit: Joe Lingeman

Apartment Therapy Weekend Projects is a guided program designed to help you get the happy, healthy home you’ve always wanted, one weekend at a time. Sign up now for email updates so you never miss a lesson.

We all have things piling up at home. And I don’t mean those unseen piles of things that accumulate like to-do lists or books you want to read—I mean the physical piles of things like mail you need to deal with, boxes to recycle, or a laundry hamper overflowing with clothes.

Those piles are energy-drainers. They’re a visual reminder of things that are still undone. Seeing them is a drag and even if you’ve managed to become blind to them, they’re still there, sapping your energy and stomping all over your cleared-off-surfaces vibe.

Straightening the pile up will make your desk or counter look neater—for a little while. (Tidy clutter is less chaotic than messy clutter.) But getting rid of the pile altogether will make you feel so, so good. When you actually set aside a small bit of time to deal with the stuff, you’ll get a jolt of that energizing feeling of accomplishment. And your space—and therefore, you—will enjoy a little perk-up.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Apartment Therapy

This Weekend: Pick one pile and deal with it.

It feels like piles of clutter are going to take so long to deal with, but most of them can be eliminated in less than 10 minutes. So this weekend, set a timer and quickly dismantle one of them. Just one—that’s all you need to do to check this weekend project off your list. But frankly, un-piling the stacks you have around is so energizing, you might even feel motivated to deal with just one more.

Here are a few kinds of piles you can tackle:

  • The clothes pile: Mine is on hooks in my closet. Yours might be on a “reading chair” in your bedroom. Head straight to that pile and toss it all into the laundry. Then make a commitment to keep the pile from starting all over again. Right now, you should be putting your wear-outside clothes directly into the hamper. But those leggings you’re wearing for days at a time? They’re fine to re-fold and put back in the dresser. I often remember what Apartment Therapy’s lifestyle director Taryn told me: If it’s clean enough to wear, it’s clean enough to put away.
  • The paper pile: These feel like the worst, and it’s true, they could take a bit more time to deal with. But the payoff is proportionate; eliminating a paper pile is something to celebrate! Sort through it with a recycling bin handy and take action on all the papers that need it so you don’t end up with another pile at the end of your efforts.
  • The pile of dishes: This one is easy because it requires zero thought and the only decision is to get started. Re-setting the kitchen by doing the dishes is an easy pick-me-up. Try to stretch yourself when you’re done and give the rest of the kitchen some love by wiping the counters or sweeping the floor.
  • The pile of shoes by the front door: Put them where and how they’re supposed to be and make that entryway look just as good from the inside as you’d want it to look to guests coming into your house. You deserve it.
  • The pile of returns: This one is the worst for me right now. I have the biggest mental block about dealing with it because there’s so much emotional stuff wrapped up in the things I have to return and how I’ll have to return them. But I need to just go through the pile, print the shipping labels I need, pack things up, and make a masked trip to my UPS drop-off point.

What pile will you deal with this weekend?

Sorry, this list is no longer accepting subscriptions.

Feel free to subscribe to our other emails.

You can catch up with weekend projects right here. Share your progress with us and others by posting updates and photos on Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #atweekendproject.

Remember: This is about improvement, not perfection. Each week you can either choose to work on the assignment we’ve sent you, or tackle another project you’ve been meaning to get to. It’s also completely okay to skip a weekend if you’re busy or not feeling the assignment.