“The day is short and the task is great.” — Ethics of the Fathers (Pirke Avot)
Story of our lives, eh? And especially true when we’re talking about getting and staying organized. One of the most effective ways to keep on top of clutter is to devote blocks of time to conquering it. Don’t panic. A block is just a focused period of time. It can be as little as five minutes. Here are a few “quickes” — mini organizing projects you can tackle during a commercial break or when the spirit moves you:
— Update your address book. Gather the business cards, scraps of paper and cocktail napkins that have contact information you want to save and enter it into your PDA or address book. If you use an address book, just tape a business card onto the appropriate page. If someone’s moved, tape their new return address label over their old address.
— Winnow your coffee cup/hot cup to-go collection. Say goodbye to anything that’s cracked or chipped. If you’re wondering whether you have too many mugs, well, you probably do (unless your name is Starbucks). Reach way in the back of your cabinets, pull out the ones you haven’t used in six months and donate them.
— Round up your spare change. Gather the little piles of spare change from your laundry room, dresser, junk drawer and car. Drop it into your child’s piggy bank or a tip jar.
— Purge your plastic containers. Saving leftovers or packing a school lunch is a real hassle when your containers and lids are jumbled in a drawer. Pull everything out and match the lids to the containers, removing any that aren’t a complete set. Replace like items together (all small containers, for example) so you can easily find what you need.
— Closet quickie. Extract three items that look worn (look for stretching, fading or shrinking — all the evils that those commercials promised Woolite would prevent), out of style, no longer fit or you haven’t worn in a year (OK, you can make it two years if you’re waffling). If you’re feeling ambitious, pull five items.
— Makeup your mind. Toss anything that’s dried out and crusty, mascara that’s more than six months old, makeup-caked applicators or brushes, expired sunscreen and foundation that smells funky or has separated.
If you’re on a roll and want some more ideas for five-minute organizing quickies, check out these, too.