How to get organized in one hour or less

Bring order to your life whether you have seconds, minutes or hours to spare.

Organizing your life

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Your living room looks like a rummage sale, the dining table is a mountain of junk mail, and you suspect the cordless phone is buried in that heap of laundry (along with the cat). You’d like to reclaim your home, but you just don’t have time to tackle the mess—or do you?According to Kristie Demke, president of Professional Organizers in Canada, it takes just minutes a day to conquer the clutter and the chaos. “Doing a little is better than doing nothing at all, and you’ll be amazed at the results you can get in even a short amount of time. You’ll also feel more in control.”

Here’s what you can do if you have…

30 seconds: Clear your desk or the top of your dresser or tidy the bathroom counter. If your kids are young, remove the junk and dirty lunch containers from their backpacks.

5 minutes: Organize your purse—toss garbage and save any receipts. Hang up coats and put away shoes and accessories. Gather dirty clothes and throw them into the washer. Re-organize your glove compartment, match DVDs and CDs to their cases, or clear out things that don’t belong in the living room.

Half an hour: “This is enough time to organize your fridge,” says Demke. She suggests going through leftovers and mystery containers, getting rid of things that have expired, and reorganizing what’s left so you can quickly find what you need. You could also organize your makeup drawer or medicine cabinet; sort your toolbox; or tackle “the most dreaded of all kitchen cabinets—the Tupperware cupboard.” Discard lids or containers without a mate, as well as any cracked pieces.

One hour: Organize gift-wrapping supplies; straighten out the game cupboard in the family room; sort the drawers of one dresser; or whip your linen closet into shape. “You’ll notice there’s a theme here,” says Demke. “It’s about making life more pleasant and productive, and giving yourself a head start on doing things.”

A Saturday afternoon: If you’re feeling really motivated, organize your pantry by meal or food type. Set up a home filing system or weed an existing one. Restore order to your kids’ play area, sort craft supplies, marshal photos by year or tame the master-bedroom closet.