The Ten Minute Tidy Just Might Save Your Sanity

Ten Minute Tidy

Often I show houses and think, "Whoa, is this house really on the market?" There are dishes in the sink, unmade beds, clothes in hampers that are sitting in playrooms and bedrooms, all sorts of things piled on the stairs, carpets that need to be vacuumed, bathrooms with wet floors - and tons of apologies from the owner! Then I think, "Well, they must have never heard of the Ten Minute Tidy."

When I was living in NYC in the late 1990s, I too had never heard of the Ten Minute Tidy. And it's funny how I learned about it. I was living in mid-town in what could only be called "an illegal live-in" - basically, it was a former sweat shop that had been turned into an apartment by an enterprising friend from college. Mind you, it was a great apartment by Manhattan standards in those days - 1,600 square feet of mostly open space with an elevator that opened onto our floor. But it had its challenges - no closets, for one.

One time, my sister came to visit with her sister-in-law and her son, who was about nine years old at the time. He took one look at my place and said to me, "Don't you know about the Ten Minute Tidy?" Mystified, I asked him what he meant and he told me that his mother made her family straighten up their spaces a few times a day. She would ask everyone to stop what they were doing as she set the kitchen timer to ten minutes, then everyone would tidy, tidy, tidy. Apparently, my place was too big of a mess for guests by this kid's exacting standards. I think for his mom, the "tidy" might have been a more productive version of a "time-out."

What I'm getting at is that everyone has time in the day to devote a few minutes to keeping your home looking neat. (I am lucky enough to have a husband who Ten Minute Tidys all day long!) If you have your house on the market, you can do this in the morning before you run out the door. If you have everyone in the family participate, you're multiplying time - a family of four can get 40 minutes of tidying done.

Areas to focus on when tidying:

  • Make your beds
  • Pick up laundry
  • Return stray shoes to the closet
  • Rehang bath towels
  • Wipe down vanities
  • Gather and stash away mail, newspapers, and magazines
  • Straighten up pillows and cushions on living room furniture
  • Organize children's toys, and look out for stray dog toys and bones.
  • Run the vacuum and/or run over floors with a dust mop
  • Put dirty dishes into the washer

Even if your home is not on the market, a daily Ten Minute Tidy by the whole family will mean that you won't have to dread your weekend cleaning session quite so much and free you up to enjoy your weekends.

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