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Tips to Declutter When You’re Short on Time: Small Actions that Add up to Big Results

Tips to Declutter When You’re Short on Time: Small Actions that Add up to Big Results

Today’s post is all about tips to declutter your home even when you’re short on time. Showing you ways you can clear the clutter a little bit at a time, without spending hours decluttering. Small steps matter and add up over time. Keep reading for plenty of ideas to help you declutter in 10 minutes or less!

 **Be sure to sign up below to get a FREE printable decluttering tip sheet. It has a handy list of tips to declutter, even when you are short on time!**

Life can be busy. Sometimes you want to declutter your house and start living with less, but you are struggling to find the time.

The good news is decluttering doesn’t have to be done in one big purging session. If that works for you, and you have the time, it can be a great way to make progress fast. But if you don’t have the time or inclination to spend a whole weekend decluttering, don’t let that deter you! I have plenty of tips to declutter, even when you’re short on time.

There are lots of small steps you can take that will add up to big decluttering results. Here are some tips to declutter and examples of small actions you can take to get started decluttering your house even if you are short on time:

Tips to Declutter When You're Short on Time
Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash

General decluttering habits:

  • Always keep one or more donation boxes around the house. When you come across something to get rid of, just add it to the box. When the box gets full, drop it off at your donation center. One of the major roadblocks with decluttering is deciding what to do with the stuff you are getting rid of. Having a box ready makes it easy to collect stuff to get rid of without having to worry about what you’ll do with it or where you’ll keep it.
  • Make the beds every morning. A neatly made bed instantly transforms a room and makes it look tidier and nicer. It might even inspire you to declutter another area!
  • Look for anything you have duplicates of. One of most things is usually enough. If you have more than one of the same thing, keep your favourite and get rid of the duplicates.
  • While you’re picking up or cleaning around the house, look for things you don’t use, need or love. When you come across something you don’t use or love, instead of picking it up and putting it away, or worse, leaving it out on the floor/counter/wherever, put it straight into the donation box. That way you’ll never have to pick it up, put it away, clean it, or deal with it again! Notice opportunities to make intentional choices about what you are choosing to keep in your home.
  • Look for areas that are exceeding their space limits. If a drawer or cupboard is too full to close easily, or you struggle to put things away in it because it’s so full, quickly go through the drawer/cupboard and get rid of enough things that the drawer can close easily and/or you can put away whatever you’re trying to put away easily. You don’t even have to declutter the whole drawer/cupboard right then if you don’t have time. Just get rid of enough so you can easily access and close the drawer/cupboard. This will start to show you how having less really can make life easier.
  • Get up right now (or as soon as you finish reading this!) and rush around the house and find 10 things to get rid of. It can be things to donate or things that can be thrown out/recycled. Set a reminder in your calendar to do this daily. Even just getting rid of 10 things a day will add up. Maybe challenge yourself to find one more thing each day than you did the day before. Over time you’ll begin to see progress.
  • Set a timer for 10 minutes and go through one small area. It could be a shelf, a drawer, your desktop, etc. Work quickly and try to get rid of as many items from that one space as you can before the timer goes. You may not have hours to devote to decluttering, but 10 minutes is much more doable.
  • Pick a flat surface, such as a kitchen counter, the entry table, the coffee table, the bathroom counter, etc., and clear it off. Put things away or throw them out. Set a timer and work as quickly as you can. Don’t just move piles from one surface to another. Don’t put things somewhere else to go through later. Deal with them now!


  • As you’re doing the laundry, if you come across something that doesn’t fit, is worn out, you don’t like, etc. instead of putting it away in your closet or dresser, get rid of it!
  • Is there something you try on, but never decide to wear? Or something you put on and go back and take off 10 minutes later? Instead of hanging it back up, or adding it to a pile of clothes draped over a chair, ask yourself if you really love it and want to keep it. If you always take it off and never end up wearing it, ask yourself why. If you don’t want to wear it today, will you ever want to wear it? Be intentional about what stays in your closet. By continually curating and editing your wardrobe, you will start to weed out the items you don’t wear or love.
  • When picking up and putting away shoes, sort through them as you go. Get rid of any that are worn out, don’t fit or you never wear. Rather than putting away a pair you don’t like or are uncomfortable, add them to the donation box.


  • While doing your hair and make-up and getting ready for the day, get rid of any products you know you don’t use or like. Instead of rummaging through them in your drawer/cupboard/make-up bag, throw them out right then. Don’t keep having to deal with those items day after day if they’re something you don’t use or like.
  • Gather up any half-used bottles of lotion, shampoo, body wash, etc. hiding in the back of your cupboard. Throw them out if you know you’ll never use them or don’t like them. If you’ll use them, take note of what you have and make sure you don’t buy any more until you’ve used up what you already have.
  • Get rid of any product samples and multiples of travel-sized products. Keep one set of travel products and refill or replace them as needed. If there are any sample products you really want to try, give yourself a short deadline to use them. Throw out any that still haven’t been used by the deadline.


  • When you’re waiting for a pot to boil, your coffee to brew, your tea to steep, your toast to toast, etc., open the drawer or cupboard beside you. Pull out anything you see that you don’t use, need or like. You don’t need to empty the drawer or do a thorough decluttering and reorganization, just look for things you know you don’t use or need.
  • Can’t remember the last time you used something? That’s a good sign you probably don’t really need it. Get rid of it and give yourself some space back.
  • Get rid of anything you don’t like. If there is a mug you don’t like and never pick, get rid of it. There’s no point in keeping things you don’t like.
  • Is there something you never use, and only just move around or push it to the back of the cupboard? Next time you need to move it to get to something else, instead of pushing it aside, just get rid of it. Stop letting it get in your way and put it straight into the donation box.
  • Get rid of any duplicates you have. Have two sets of measuring spoons? Pick your favourite and let the other go. If there are things like travel mugs, water bottles or mixing bowls that you’d like to keep a few multiples of, decide what is a reasonable number to keep. Then get rid of the rest. Keep in mind that to actually see the benefits of decluttering, you need to be honest and ruthless. How many of each thing do you actually need and use? Set a limit and get rid of the rest.
  • Sort through your pantry and get rid of any expired food. If there’s anything that’s not expired, but you know you won’t use, donate it to the food bank so it can help someone who will use it.
  • Make a plan to eat from your pantry and/or freezer for a set amount of time, maybe a week or a month, without buying more food (aside from produce, dairy, etc.). This helps you use up your stock of food, frees up space in your pantry, cupboards and freezer and saves you money by using what’s on hand. You may have to get creative to use up some of the odds and ends. Have fun with it, make it a challenge.
  • Clear off the front of your fridge. Recycle old paper, file anything you need to keep, throw out magnets you don’t like or if you have too many. Take everything off and keep it clear for a while. A UCLA study has shown the amount of clutter on your fridge is a reflection of your tolerance for clutter in the rest of your home. The more cluttered the fridge, the more cluttered the house tended to be. Keep your fridge clear for a day or a week and see how it changes the feel of your kitchen.

Living Room and Family Room:

  • Recycle old magazines. Don’t worry about the recipe you want to try or an article you planned to read later. If you haven’t tried it or read it yet, you probably won’t. Just get rid of them. You can find most things online if you want to try it in the future.
  • If you find yourself picking up throw pillows and blankets multiple times a day, keep your absolute favourites and get rid of the rest. Simplify your life by getting rid of the extras you probably don’t even need or use often anyway.
  • If you’re sitting down to watch TV, sort through your DVD collection. If you haven’t watched a movie in the last year, it’s probably time to let it go. You can donate used DVDs to your local library so you can easily borrow them back if you ever want to watch them again. And many movies are also available on streaming services you are already signed up for. Taking DVDs out of their cases and storing them in a CD binder is a great way to save space. Just remember, the idea is to own less, not organize it better. First, get rid of the ones you no longer want, then decide if you want to better organize what’s left.
  • Set a timer for 10 minutes and go through your bookshelf. See how many books you can get rid of before the timer goes off. If you’ve had a book for more than a year and still haven’t read or re-read it, donate it to your library as well. If you ever decide you want to read it, you can borrow it back!

Misc areas:

  • Medicine cabinet: quickly sort through and pull out anything that is expired or that you no longer need. Take expired or no longer needed medication to your pharmacy to be disposed of properly.
  • Cleaning supplies: get rid of anything you haven’t used in the last 6 months. Get rid of anything you know you won’t use anymore, or forgot you had. If it’s something you will use, take note of what you have and don’t buy any more until you’ve used up what you already have.
  • Sheets and towels: do you have a stack of each, but never use the ones on the bottom of the pile? Get rid of the ones you never or rarely use and only keep the ones you use regularly. If you can’t remember the last time you used it – it’s probably safe to let it go. Decide on a limit of each to help you decide what to keep. For example, keep 2 sets of sheets per bed, and 2 towels per person.

If you’re worried about not having enough towels, try to think through the situation that has you worried. Think of other possibilities you could come up with to solve the problem. For example, if you’re worrying only 2 towels a person isn’t enough if you have sick kids and need extra towels, think of alternative solutions. Could you use beach towels until the regular towels are out of the wash? Try not to hold on to things because of some possible, unforeseen future event. Most likely you’d be able to come up with an alternate solution using other things you have on hand.

Tips to declutter: make decluttering a part of your daily rhythm

Even if you don’t have hours a day to devote to decluttering, little bits of time and small actions will add up.

Go about your day with a critical eye on your space and your things. As you are in contact with the things around your house, ask yourself if you really need or want them in your space. Be intentional about what you allow to stay. Over time all of these small efforts will add up and you’ll begin to see big decluttering results.

Remember that any time you invest decluttering and minimizing your life will pay off in the future. You’ll save time and have less stress when there is less to clean, less to pick up, less to maintain, less mess to lose your keys in, etc. The return on your decluttering investment is high!

I hope these ideas and tips to declutter will show you that there are lots of ways to add decluttering efforts to your day, even when life is busy.

These are just a few ideas of ways to work on decluttering your home when you feel like you don’t have enough time to declutter. Once you get in the habit of decluttering, it becomes easier to spot things that aren’t earning their space in your home. Make decluttering and finding things to get rid of part of your daily routine. Set yourself up so you can begin to spot those things and get rid of them quickly and easily.

What are some ways you add decluttering to your daily activities? Do you have any tips to declutter when you don’t have a lot of time to add?

Tips to Declutter When You're Short on Time
Photo by Agê Barros on Unsplash

 **Don’t forget to sign up below for a FREE printable decluttering tip sheet. It is a handy list of all these tips to declutter, even when you are short on time!**

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Friday 20th of April 2018

U just saved me I was so worried that me and my husband just don't have the time . I'll start doing all u said from tommorow as it's mid night now . I'll start doing it when my son is sleeping during day so that I can focus better . Thank u thank u so much

Simple Lionheart Life

Sunday 22nd of April 2018

You're so welcome!! I'm so happy to hear you found this post helpful! Even just a few minutes a day spent decluttering really will add up to awesome results over time. Just keep at it! Thanks for reading :)

March Fabulous Finds - The Merry Momma

Monday 27th of March 2017

[…] Tips to Declutter When You’re Short on Time | Simple Lionheart Life […]

Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine

Sunday 12th of March 2017

It defineitly is the little actions that add up and makes things so much less daunting!

Simple Lionheart Life

Sunday 12th of March 2017

Yes for sure! Decluttering your whole house can seem very overwhelming when you're just beginning. But starting with small actions and seeing them add up to make progress is really encouraging. It's amazing what a difference even just 10 minutes a day can make. Thanks for reading!


Tuesday 7th of March 2017

Great tips! I love the idea of having a donation box around. Thanks for the inspiration, I'm going to go spend ten minutes in our kitchen cabinet full of plastic containers.

Simple Lionheart Life

Tuesday 7th of March 2017

That's awesome Samantha! I'm so glad you found it helpful. A donation box makes it so much easier to declutter as you go about your day. Good for you for tackling your kitchen cabinet, all of those small actions will start to add up to big results. Thanks for reading!


Tuesday 7th of March 2017

Makes so much sense! Why do we find it necessary to complicate everything when all we want is simplicity?

Simple Lionheart Life

Tuesday 7th of March 2017

Isn't it funny how complicated simplifying can become?! Once you get in to a good decluttering routine and stop the inflow of more stuff, it gets so much easier! Thanks for reading Cathy!

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