Why the 20/10 Organizing Method Is the Best, Time-Saving Decluttering Strategy

It's perfect for anyone who always feels like they're short on time.

<p>Damian Lugowski/Getty Images</p>

Damian Lugowski/Getty Images

Organizing your space is one of those things you know you should probably take care of, but the mere thought of tackling the beast can keep you from even getting started. What ends up happening is that things slowly become more chaotic until, suddenly, you’re surrounded by clutter, important items are hard to find, and you struggle to put stuff away. If this sounds familiar, the 20/10 organizing method is 100% for you and we’re pretty sure it’ll change your entire approach to keeping the house tidy.

“When you have an organized space, it will save you so much time, a lot of heartache, and help you feel in control of your life,” says Leslie Kilgour, professional organizer and founder of Get It Straight Organizing. “When you can feel in control of your space, it boosts your confidence and can help you even make better choices.”

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about the 20/10 organizing method, including what it is and how to employ it in your own home.

Related: Here's Why Your Home Doesn't Stay Organized, According To the Pros

What is the 20/10 Organizing Method?

The 20/10 organizing method is a decluttering approach where you commit to 20 minutes of tidying and organizing followed by a well-deserved 10-minute break, explains Wendy Trunz, head organizer at Jane’s Addiction Organization.

The idea is to do something relaxing and enjoyable during your break, which creates some nice positive reinforcement that might just get you excited to organize (imagine that!). Also, you’d be shocked at how much you can accomplish in 20 minutes.

“Many people have great intentions to do full clean-outs of closets, rooms, or other areas, and as they start to plan it in their minds, the overwhelming thoughts of how much time will it take almost stops them in their tracks,” Trunz says. “This method sets small goals that can easily be accomplished.”

She adds, "You’ll find that the benefits and impacts cause an incredible, empowered self-movement toward a life of organized living in your home, mind, and heart."

Related: 10 Tips to Help You Get Organized (Once and For All!)

How to Clean and Organize Using the 20/10 Method

The beauty of the 20/10 organizing method is that it’s super easy to follow and completely customizable.

Step 1: Gather Supplies

You only need a few key items:

  • A timer

  • Garbage bags for trash

  • Box for donations

  • Large bin for collecting items

  • Organizers, like baskets and storage containers

These items are good when tidying physical spaces in your home, but you can also use the 20/10 organizing method to tackle digital clutter, clean out your car, or spruce up your office.

Step 2: Spend 20 Minutes of Focused Organizing

With your intention set, start the timer and see how much you can accomplish in 20 minutes. Toss trash in the garbage bag, place items you want to donate in a separate box or bag, and place items that need to go in another area of the house in their own bin. (Alternatively, you can move these items into the proper room as you work.)

When decluttering a specific space (like a closet or the junk drawer or kitchen cabinets), versus organizing a large room, it often helps to remove everything first, then go through items one at a time as you put everything back/trash it/donate it.


Try to make this 100% focused time. You can put on some music or a podcast, but Kilgour recommends eliminating distractions like your phone or computer. Putting them in airplane mode can be helpful.

Step 3: Reward Yourself With 10 Minutes of Relaxation

After the timer goes off, it’s officially time for your sweet reward. Give yourself a pat on the back, break open a tasty piece of chocolate, make yourself a cup of tea, or allow for 10 minutes of scroll time on your phone. Whatever the reward, remind yourself you just earned it!

“By incorporating short, focused bursts of activity followed by brief breaks, you can maintain high levels of concentration and motivation while preventing burnout,” Kilgour says. “This method allows you to tackle tasks efficiently, prioritize effectively, and achieve goals with greater ease.”

After the 10 minutes have elapsed, you can jump back in for another 20-minute session (if necessary), or you can pick up where you left off the following day, tackling the task bit by bit.

Trunz says this method can truly change the way you are living and says to ask yourself: “What are the first little things you can do by testing this theory and setting aside just 20 minutes?” 

Related: 6 Best Things to Declutter If You Only Have 15 Minutes

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