decluttering tip

The 10 Minute Rule – A Quick Decluttering Tip

When I was straight out of college and trying my damnedest to buy better shoes and act like I belonged in the corporate world, the Senior VP of HR who was the head of my department (and wore impossibly gorgeous shoes) taught me something I’ll never forget. She said,

“Don’t harass the UPS guys just because they wear those cute brown socks and shorts. You work in HR, for crying out loud.”

Maybe she didn’t say that, but it was implied in harassment training. What she actually taught me was her 10 minute rule.

At the end of each day, she would take 10 minutes to set herself up for the next day, and then clear off her desk. She’d write down her most important to-do’s for the next day, carrying over anything that hadn’t been done that day and making it higher priority for the next morning, and then organizing the next day so that she was sure to accomplish her tasks as they related to her short and long-term goals. She also made sure that she’d returned any phone calls she needed to so that no one was waiting until the next day to hear back from her.

Then, she’d clear off her desk (following her “clean desk” rule; evidently she liked rules…). All note pads, office supplies, books, letters, post-it notes, etc. were put into drawers. This way, when she returned the next morning, her office was clean, her schedule was clear, and she didn’t spend any time making a plan for how her day would look because it was already set up the day before. When she came into the office, she could hit the ground running.

I’ve been copying this model for over 20 years now, and it’s also spilled over into my personal life. I don’t harass UPS delivery guys (which has been super helpful since Amazon was invented), and I always make sure that I’ve got a plan for my next day. What errands need to be taken care of, and when will I be doing them? What tasks am I tackling and at what time? What things are happening outside of work that I need to pre-plan for, such as dinner around my daughter’s games and matches?

The “clean desk rule” can also be transferred to the home. I don’t go to bed until tables and counters are cleared of clutter, any stray jackets, sweatshirts, and shoes are put where they belong, and the kitchen is completely cleaned up. This is the best way I know of to make sure that clutter never gets out of hand.

Today’s Pairing

Any good “quick tip” pairs well with something drinkable. (“Drinkable” is a snooty wine term that I secretly believe just means “we’re going to call it ‘drinkable’ because it’s nicer than saying ‘literally anyone will drink this’ “.) Today’s selection is a nice, easy Malbec.

And if you’re at all afraid of the impending wine shortage (this is real fear, people), you may want this instead…

What about you? Any quick decluttering tips you want to share? Leave me a comment, I’d love to hear it!


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