Some times I walk into my home office and it’s just overwhelming – there’s paperwork of all kinds, all over my desk. Paperwork related to job tasks, forms to fill out for my 401k, my healthcare provider, one of my kids’ permission slips – or the coupons I place in there so I “didn’t forget them”. But it doesn’t end there, the home office also becomes a dumping ground of random items that get put away when company comes over, or items I am wrapping for an upcoming birthday, and other various projects and/or spinning plates. It’s often soo much stuff that I just cannot figure out where to start – so I don’t. But then it only lingers. It continues to generate a negative energy, and limits my productivity / dampens my mood. How do you overcome that? Sometimes the answer isn’t to invest the afternoon in fixing all of it – instead, assign a short period to tackle what you can.

Here are some tips for decluttering a room in 30 minutes:

Set a timer for 30 minutes and work quickly.

Remember, you wanted to declutter a room quickly. There can be a tendancy to get “too into it” when you set out to declutter a room. You pick up a few old bills on your home office desk and underneath them are some coupons that are expiring soon, so now you are writing a grocery list, while walking down the hall to ask your spouse what they need at the store – all because you began the process of tidying up a room! When you determine a specific amount of time to declutter, you can remind yourself to no get off track, and that you are only focusing on what you can accomplish in 30 minutes. This will heighten your focus.

Make three piles: trash, donate, and keep.

With the timer set you can start sorting the items in the room. Keeping the tasks simple will help you to stay on task. Try to separate the trash, donate, and keep piles by creating them in different areas of the room so that there are clear lines of delineation between them. Try not to think about them too hard; if you are not sure if you are ready to get rid of it, simply put it in the keep pile. (For now.)

Start with one small area, such as a desk or bookshelf, and quickly sort through items.

Do not try to take on the entire room at once! Pick an area of the room and and go through the clutter triage process detailed above. Once you have finished one area, move on to the next.

items to donate

Be ruthless with what you get rid of, only keeping what is necessary and useful.

As you move through the areas of the room, making your keep/trash/donate decisions, you may have changed your mind on a previous “keep”, having had a little time to think about it. Do your best to only keep items that are really necessary. Ask yourself – “when was the last time i used this item?” If you can’t remember, then it’s an easy toss. If an item has a sentimental – but no practical value, consider taking a picture of it and tossing it. (That’s literally the premise of : )

Once the timer goes off, stop decluttering and put away the items in the “keep” pile.

It is perfectly fine if you did not completely declutter the room in thirty minutes. In fact it is fine if you are not even half way done. The goal of this exercise was not a spotless, empoty room – the goal was action. And action you took! Thirty minutes of decluttering any room will show marked improvement, whether it is a bedroom, office, or other. You should feel good about the progress made with this quick declutter, in this short period of time.

Schedule a time to go through the trash and donate piles.

Depending on the size of the piles you created, schedule some time to review these two piles. Confirm with others in your home that the items can indeed leave the house forever (as trash or a donation), and that they no longer have any practical use. But make sure that you implement these parts of the plan.(Throwing away the items of no use, donating the ones that you don’t need, but do have a use.)

Congratulations on decluttering a room in 30 minutes! While this room may not be done, it is certainly better than it was, 31 minutes ago!