10 Minutes to a Clutter-Free Morning

“The first hour is the rudder of the day.” – Henry Ward Beecher

Let’s face it. Mornings can be tough. In many homes, they are famous for containing too much to do and too little time.

But mornings set the mood for the rest of our day. They have the potential to energize us or drain us. They have the opportunity to lift our spirits or drag us down. They can start us on the right foot or the wrong foot.

Given the fact that mornings are so important, it’s wise to spend a few minutes each night preparing your house for tomorrow’s sunrise. After all, a clutter-free house in the morning means less stress, less anxiety, and less time getting prepared for the day. And that benefits everyone in the home!

Contrary to popular misconception, you don’t need to spend hours each night cleaning the house to accomplish a clutter-free morning. Instead, simply stay ahead of the clutter by tackling these ten 60-second decluttering projects before you go to bed each night.

1. Return shoes/coats to closets. In the winter, add gloves, hats, and scarves to the routine.

2. Recycle junk mail and newspapers. A new day brings new mail and new news. Keep your table or counter space clutter-free in the morning by removing today’s.

3. Put away articles of clothing. Some go in the laundry. Some go back in the closet. But none should be left on the floor.

4. Store media out of sight. Put back all dvd’s, cd’s, video games, and remote controls that were used during the day. The first time you walk into that room tomorrow, you’ll be glad you did.

5. Process coins and receipts. I’m sure it was your husband who left the contents of his pockets on your dresser, but either way, it’ll take you only 60 seconds to put those items where they actually belong.

6. Clear all bathroom surfaces. The first place you’ll go in the morning is the bathroom. It’s also a surprisingly easy room to keep clutter free. Invest the 60 seconds every night to make it happen.

7. Clean-up homework. Get your kids into the habit of putting away their schoolwork each night before bed rather than scrambling around each morning to find it.

8. Put kitchen items away. Granted, I’m assuming you’ve done some cleaning up already after dinner. And if you have, it’ll only take you another 60 seconds to tidy up anything that got left out.

9. Put back toys. Realistically, life doesn’t allow a clean toy room every evening. But if you have a toy room apart from your living room, spend 60 seconds returning toys to the room where they belong. Or better yet, get your kids into the practice of doing it themselves.

10. File paperwork. Stay on top of paper and office clutter by handling it the day it arrives.

If you are not in the habit of doing these things, it’ll definitely take longer than 10 minutes the first time. But once you get a handle on each area, the entire project will take you less than 10 minutes… and your morning you will thank you!

Image: BeatPlusMelody

Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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  1. Emily j says

    Great list. I started something like this a few weeks ago to get me from coming home and watching tv “for just a little bit” to accomplishing a few tasks of putting a few things away that usually annoy me and are things I dread doing before bed. Simple things like putting my bike and commuting things away, put work clothes away and any laundry that might be hanging to dry the night before, take care of lunch dishes as well as breakfast dishes, and unload the dishwasher if necessary. I have a few other but haven’t stuck with them, but will keep them on the list and add some you have to see if I can get the nightly routine done under 10min.

  2. says

    It seems common sense but it’s not. It’s really important to keep it clean and organize by this small steps. the problem is to convince the husband and the kids to follow the same rules. I have this feeling kids are easier to convince and follow.
    Thanks for the list, it makes mornings a lot easier. Another rule for the ladies, think about what you want to dress the next day and leave it prepared. I found that this rules saves a lot of time!

    • lin says

      yeah if i got a shower before noon LOL Just going to wear another pair of sweats and another long sleeve shirt. cant really be that hard, can it? common sense really has nothing to do with it when you’re feeding 8 or 9 people a day. it’s more about time in the day to make you think your life is as perfect as you want it to bed. i dont even make my bed so I guess I could care less. haaa

  3. says

    So true. I spent several years working in restaurants and one of the things you did when you were closing up for the night, was to clean and prepare everything for the next mornings opening. I still carry that habit with me now. (That and keeping an 86 chalkboard in the kitchen ;)

  4. says

    Well said, Josh. It is VERY important to get the kids involved. When a family starts its day this way, Mom and Dad set a great example for the kids, and the kids are creating a wonderful routine that will serve them throughout their lives.

  5. Anne says

    I always make sure the kettle is full before I go to bed, that way all I have to is flick the switch to start the coffee process in the morning. For some unknown reason this always makes me feel very organised and starts my day off well.

    • Des says

      I have a thing about kettles…sorry…nickel from stainless steel can leach if sitting or worse if its plastic. Bugs can crawl in over night (have found some). Also its more energy efficient to not boil a full jug each time, unless of course you are serving eight or so people. :)

    • says

      I too have a thing about kettles, like Des. But what I do in the morning, is after getting out of bed I fill (or put a mugworth in) the kettle with fresh water and set it up, and only go to the toilet once the kettle’s brewing. That way the water for the tea is just done by the time I get out of the toilet and I too feel organised :)

  6. Pam says

    When I leave the house for work in the morning, I take a few minutes to walk through each room and put away anything that is out of place and align things neatly on the kitchen counter, neatly fold and hang up the kitchen towel on the stove handle, wipe down the counter in the bathroom, etc. I stand in the entrance doorway of my home which opens directly into the kitchen and look at my house as a stranger would. Is it welcoming in its cleanliness and sense of order? Does it accurately reflect my inner quiet? Is it a place that ‘vibrates’ with a present moment attention to detail? Is it a place that I would feel comfortable offering to a dignitary or someone I hold in great esteem to stay in? Is it a beautiful and comfortable place of sanctuary for ME when I return home after a hard day at work?

    • Karen says

      Pam, that’s beautiful. You articulated exactly how I feel but have been unable to identify as my husband and I have had declutter conversations.

  7. Alessia says

    I always do it. I like having nothing around when I wake up. I always clean the kitchen before going to bed, it could be weird, but there is nothing on my appliances because it creates me chaos when I cook; I always fix the clothes in the closet because I would never not bear clothes on my chair! So everything is always more spacious in the morning :)

  8. says

    I love waking up to an uncluttered house! We used to be really disciplined, with the evening tidying-up, and it just started the day off a lot better. It goes even quicker, with fewer possessions, so we really need to get back to it, after our current round of “purging.”

  9. says

    I’ve been implementing many of these ideas for a while, and love waking up to a clear, simple house every morning (well, almost every morning. Occasionally arriving home late means I can’t get it all reset).

    Thanks for the reminder of the night-time reset.

  10. says

    procrastination is the main reason for clutter accumulating in our homes.Clutter is difficult to get rid of and always ready to sneak back if we don’t stay alert.stop procrastinating and start decluttering…and what better time than the morning itself?

  11. handleitonce says

    While I think this is very good advice, I have to say I’m amazed that anyone would wait until the end of the day. In our family, we go by the rule that after you use it you put it away. With bills and all other mail, it’s “handle it once”, meaning don’t look at it and put it somewhere to handle later. Take care of it now. With newspapers (we only get one on Sundays) the inserts are put in recycling immediately, then the newspaper is put in the newspaper basket and anyone who takes out a section to read it, puts it back when they’re done reading it. Our kids put homework away as soon as they’re done. No dishes lay around in the kitchen. Whoever used them puts them in the dishwasher. Books, toys, electronics are all put in their places when not in use. Before going to bed, everyone puts away the one or two things they’re using, puts their clothes in the hamper (if necessary), leaves the bathroom as they found it (uncluttered), and turns out the light for good night’s sleep. If you procrastinate during the day or leave things around, nighttime becomes drudgery, as does morning, because things have gotten out of hand!

      • handleitonce says

        Thanks! This has been an incredible way to minimize the clutter of everyday life. It works for papers from school, USPS mail, e-mails, phone messages,laundry, dirty dishes, etc. Anything you handle, handle it just once: pay it, answer it, return in, throw it away, recycle it, file it, put it in the dishwasher, put it in the drawer/closet … almost anything. There is never clutter. Everything in its place (and hopefully a place for everything!). Works when doing outside chores as well!

    • Paula says

      I love your advice, but what do you do if a spouse absolutely refuses to go along with it? My husband is notorious for NEVER putting things away! And sometimes he gets mad when I put his things away because “he wasn’t finished with it yet!”

      • Niki says

        Paula, that is tricky. I think the worst thing you can do is nag or push someone to change. In my experience, if you remind him kindly how much it bothers you to come across his clutter, he will eventually try to pick up after himself out of respect for you if nothing else. I’ve always found that pointing out the frustration it creates for you, rather than making it seem like he is a failure somehow because he doesn’t see it as clutter, is a much kinder and more effective way of getting someone to pitch in. It obviously takes repetition and time on your part, but it avoids hurting his feelings and turns it into nudging him positively rather than dragging him negatively.

      • Cindy says

        Absolutely never nag. It’s HIS house, too, and you can’t very well impose your own standards on him. If something bothers you because it’s out, then you put it away. I’m the one who needs orderliness, so I can easily put more effort into getting the result I want. And as you put things away, think of how you are blessing your husband by doing this for him. Realize that if his things are left around the house, it means he is still there! Lots of people would give ANYTHING to have those dirty socks back in the floor because that would mean they were still blessed with their loved one’s presence. Amazing how when you adopt a different attitude, you actually begin to feel differently, and then you may see changes in him as well. I know this from experience. :)

  12. says

    This is a great list. We have informally followed almost the same routine since moving to our small house. In the morning, I’m the last one to take a shower and leave the house. When I’m done with the shower, I spray white vinegar and water on the shower stall walls and use a squeege to get rid of the drops. It takes one more minute to spritz the vanity mirror and sink, then wipe it all with a paper towel. I take a quick wipe at the outside of the toilet and throw the piece away and then continue in with my routine (while I am still wet!). If I do this, we are never embarassed when someone needs to use our bathroom. If there is one room I hate slime, it’s in the bathroom! Well…. the kitchen too!

  13. says

    Tidying before bed is so simple, yet so easy to NOT do. I am finding that the more we minimize, the less I even have to do this. The house feels better to wake up in just because there is less stuff. BUT there is still plenty of room for improvement!
    As far as toys go, we have very few, but I find that if I not only clean them up but rearrange them slightly as well, the kids are much more likely to engage in quiet play–making my mornings even better!

  14. says

    Awesome post, thanks for sharing.

    I do some of these things in the evening, just before bed, so in the morning there’s less to worry about. I have found that I’m far more focused in the morning when I’ve cleaned up a bit, it gets me in a mood!

  15. says

    If I don’t do these things of an evening, I certainly regret it the next morning! I love waking up to a clutter free house.
    I also agree with the ‘handle it once’ concept. I deal with paper immediately – notice board, recycling bin or file storage. I am teaching this concept to my kids. My 8yr old daughter is getting really adept at cleaning up after herself.

  16. says

    Gosh, that isn’t just a good minimalist idea to create a clutter free morning – I can promise you – this is an ADHD riddled adult’s SURVIVAL list!!! I went from crazed to Zen by applying this sort of daily management of all those crazy messy little things. :-)

  17. says

    One of the simplest things I have done to remove both physical and mental clutter from my life is to take the junk mail from the letterbox and put it directly in the recycling. As well as not cluttering up my kitchen counter, I am not constantly coveting the things being marketed to me and imagining I would somehow be a different person if I had them.

  18. Glorey says

    I do many of these things most evenings and it makes a difference. I fill the kettle too and I am set to spend a 1/2 hour or a little more of quiet time with my journal before the rest of the household awakens. This has been a basic sanity practice for 20 years. ;)

  19. says

    Great list! For me, a good morning also requires laying out the next day’s outfit, complete with underwear, jewelry and shoes, as well as deciding on what will be for breakfast. The fewer decisions I have to make in the morning, the better I function.

  20. Summer says

    I agree with you …since I began this journey of minimalism, preparing for the mornings has became a part of habitual living thus allowing the morning to flow…I now wake my children up by playing up beat musicals happy musicals while they get ready leaving no choice to just be relaxed happy n maybe even dance….something I tried for my youngest who is highly emotional particularly in the mornings….your blog rules…. Putting stuff away …hanging uniforms and making lunches the night before works well for me as I’d never get out of the house if I did it all in the morning

  21. Summer says

    Ps some nights I’m exhausted and bear broken after wrk and running a family yes…. And some mornings are not always successful but routine as boring as it is does work for my lifestyle….peace

  22. Jes says

    Also, the night before you should lay out your clothes and gather the things you’ll need to take with you in one place.

  23. Marie says

    I have always lived by the rule of tidying before going to bed. I learned that valuable lesson while raising 7 children. Start the day stress free and the rest of the day will go smoothly! :-)

  24. Beth says

    I love everything you write and find your posts a refreshing breathe of sanity! I just have one suggestion to this one. I did wrinkle at the mention of “I’m sure it was your husband who left the contents of his pockets on your dresser, but either way, it’ll take you only 60 seconds to put those items where they actually belong.” This is true, and it is true that I am the wifey (and tidier extraordinaire) reading this. However, shouldn’t you also be speaking to him about tidying? I know you wouldn’t say that women should hold this role alone and tolerance is always a great message. I just think maybe using the word “spouse” or saying “either of you” to tidying it would be more fair.

    “I’m sure it was your spouse who left the contents of their pockets on the dresser, but either way, it’ll take you only 60 seconds to put those items where they actually belong.”

    Just a note from the gender role division of helpful suggestions! :)

  25. Maria says

    We’re HOPELESS at this! I’ve just spent the morning doing dishes, cleaning up the kitchen, tidying the lounge… Procrastinators to the max in our house although we’ve had a huge purge of stuff over the last three months.

    I need things to be fun so I’m turning this into a game with hubby and my 3yo son. Got a picture card for each of these steps, we take turns choosing a card out of the box to complete. Then choose another until it’s all done!!

  26. Becki Britt says

    I know some may find this odd, but in addition to some of the practices here, I sleep in a knit dress, or yoga capris and a top, so that when I get up at that unbelievable hour (which for me is anything before 11am) I am already dressed and can quickly finish my brief personal routine and help get the kids fed and into the car for the 20 minute ride to school. My quiet time is when I return.

  27. georgia mark says

    Recently, I have become a fan of your web site. It has been a couple of weeks and I am still purging items in the house. My boyfriend’s motto is ….a place for everything and everything in it’s place. I just haven’t got there yet. Working on it though and it gives me great pleasure to get rid of items. Once I achieve my goal, I plan to implement your suggestions as I would prefer to live in a neater looking abode. I really do believe that your surroundings have everything to do with your mind. I am striving for a better environment. Plus, trying my best not to purchase more stuff, as I am not in need of anything except food….

  28. Fidan says

    This is the list of things that we unconsciously do, or should do every day. It must be kind of duty and a part of our lifestyle.
    Thanks for reminding us about them!

  29. Island Mom says

    I can’t seem to find the line between clutter-free and OCD. A workman was in my kitchen and asked where he could wash his hands. I said “You can use the sink.” He asked “Where is the soap?” I replied “It is under the sink, I am practicing minimalism.” He said “How is that going for you?” I answered “Well, I have to get things from under the sink all the time!”

    So I have fought OCD in the past, and now it seems that I am constantly worrying about things being put away properly. Is this healthy? I agree that it feels fantastic when it is all done, but I am spending a lot of time keeping things orderly. And yes, I have given half of my stuff away already.

    • Amy U says

      I am so far from this being my reality, but I’m starting, regardless. This evening, I’ve read through all the above comments (made to this article over the last couple of years) and have determined I’m in a much different place than most of your readers…..but I’m not giving up. Without getting too deep into my details, I am proud of my own personal progress in becoming more minimalistic over the last several y-e-a-r-s…..yes, that’s how long it’s taking me. I fight some of my own bad habits and at times wonder how much one can change vs. how much one is to embrace themselves the way they are. The first time I clean out something is never the last—-I’m evolving in terms of each time, I’m willing to part with more, but I’m not there the first time around at whatever it is I’m cleaning out. I kicked the habit of bringing it INto the house, though, several years ago.
      I can’t tell you how many days it would take me to clear away all the clutter—-ha ha, no joke. (For example, for me to take care of each single piece of paper on my kitchen counter would be a couple of hours in and of itself.) BUT, at least I can follow your night time suggestions (which I’ve been pondering on my own & then your article popped into my vision this evening) and at a minimum, take care of the clutter I’ve created TODAY. It’s a start. I struggle with having the energy in the evenings to keep going…..have considered instilling habits like a quick after-dinner walk with the dog or a splash of cold water on my face……just something to revive my energy level.
      It’s taken me YEARS to realize I’m not as self-motivated as I was when I worked outside the home (before kids)…..YEARS to even BEGIN to add structure to my own day, myself.
      With the start of this school year came a more routined weekday meal planning for me (I wasn’t ready for it until now…..just wasn’t “there” in my head) & a more-regular-than-ever (but not too consistent) workout plan.
      I’m evolving. It may be slow, but it’s better than going backward or staying in the same place.

  30. Ralf says

    I grew up with these rules. they come from my dad. and now my boyfriend is repeating them every day. when I’m alone I rebel. ;-)

  31. PJ says

    thanks for the tips. One comment though….

    If you have a whole room in your house for toys – maybe you have too many toys.

    Other than that awesome tips

  32. ren says

    NUMBER ONE CARDINAL RULE,,,,Gget coffee ready, We don’t have a timer on ours, but being able to get up, click pot on and start day…
    Also really helps to have dishes loaded in dishwasher from night before, I hate having dirty dishes in sink , and NO, I’m not giving up my dishwasher unless every one else in house is willing to do dishes and not have to be told to do them.

  33. says

    What a nice simple list. And what a difference it makes. I especially love getting up to a clean kitchen with very little sitting out. This is a good list for parents to implement as everyone gets ready to shift from summer to the hectic beginning of the school year.

  34. says

    I love these tips. We’re on a journey towards minimalism, and since we started everything has gotten a lot easier. What used to take me 20 minutes to clean now takes me 5, and we are so much more stress free without the clutter!

  35. Bonni says

    I laughed out loud at #5. You nailed it when you said it was probably the husband. There’s usually a broken golf tee in my husband’s mix.

    The change finds its way to my wallet.

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