Twenty Minute Attack: The best friend of an organized home

The “Twenty Minute Attack” is the best trick I have to kickstart a decluttering project that needs to be tackled.  You can get a ton of motivation from seeing the results that such a short commitment of time can really do to your space.   And we can ALL find 20 minutes, right?

Just follow these steps to make sure you’re set up for success… and, hey, if you want to work for more than 20 minutes on a project, that’s up to you!

1) Pick the task.  Make sure it’s limited in space and scope such that you can really make a difference in a short period of time.  Some examples of Twenty Minute Attacks:

  • Spice collection

  • Refrigerator clean out

  • “Junk” drawer

  • Landing area, with the mail, keys, etc.

  • Dresser tops

  • Linen closet

  • Bathroom/Medicine Cabinet

  • Underwear Drawer

  • Sock Drawer

  • Toys and Games

  • Cosmetics/Makeup

  • Desktop (your physical desk)

  • Desktop (your computer screen)

  • Shoes

  • Coats

  • Electronics/wires/chargers tangled nest

  • Magazine/Catalog pile

 2) Cut out the distractions.

  • Make sure you’re really able to focus for 20 minutes without distraction, especially from the little humans 🙂  Make sure the kids are occupied, or better yet, not around.

  • Turn off the TV, even the phone, if you tend to get a lot of calls that you can put off for a few minutes.

  • Music, however, is okay. In fact, you might have a few songs that totally energize you…  how about building a 20-minute playlist as your timer?

 3) Get the tools you need all set.

  • This project is going to involve a lot of sorting, and the items need their places.  You’ll have “Keep here”, “Trash”, “Recycle”, “Move to Another Space” and “Donate” are the usual categories.

  • Use tools like laundry baskets, boxes, trash bags, recycling bins, a box for donations, etc.  When you’re putting something in its pile, make sure that pile has a new place to go.

  • If visual motivation works for you, snap a “Before” picture.

4) Set the timer.

  • You have timers all around the house: watches, phones, microwave, oven, kitchen timers, Alexa or Google Home, etc. Set to 20 minutes.  You know your iPhone has a built-in timer under the clock function, right?

20 minute timer iphone  

5) Get it done. 

  • Stay Focused – It’s easy to get distracted by things like, “Oh, this goes in that room… I’ll just move it now…”  Stay focused on your limited task. The follow-up can wait 20 minutes.

  • Move fast – the goal is to deal with as much of the volume of stuff as possible in this short period of time.

  • Touch Everything Once – Don’t spend too much time with any one thing. Make quick decisions and keep moving.

  • Keep in mind that the space was cluttered because you probably had more than you needed to keep there. Do not be afraid to get rid of things that you haven’t touched or used in a long time. So much of the clutter in our lives is when we keep space for the unnecessary, and it hides all the items that really are functional and that we love.  Get rid of the things that don’t fall into those categories.

  • When the timer goes off, evaluate if you need a few more minutes (work through it to the end!) or if it has to pack up for another session. Get rid of the items that were meant to go to another room, remove the trash and recycling, and set the donation items aside in a space you won’t be tempted to retrieve items from.   Put the “Keep in here” items back in the space.

  • Snap an “After” picture, and compare it to the before… And then, congratulate yourself on serious effort with great results!




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