You’ve got 10 minutes until the kids get home from school or the baby wakes up from her nap. There isn’t enough time to start a big project, and you tell yourself you might as well whip out your smartphone and see what’s happening online. But instead of checking your email again (without enough time to respond) or paging through your sister’s political rants on Facebook (again!), tackle one of these 10 household tasks you can accomplish in 10 minutes or less:
1. Clean your doorknobs
Give all of the doorknobs in your house a quick swipe with a Clorox disinfecting wipe. Don’t stress about buffing them to a shine, just wipe off any visible junk and (more importantly) any invisible germs.
2. Sort through your junk mail
Stand near the garbage or recycling bin and cull that stack of fliers, school papers and unopened mail. Only keep papers you really need and designate a special spot for papers that you need to keep or file.
3. File that stack of bills
Take a few minutes every week to file papers that want to keep on hand. (Keep in mind that you likely need to hold on to less than you think). Or, if you scan your documents to eliminate paper clutter, use a few minutes to run already scanned bills and medical documents and the like through a paper shredder.
4. Inventory your cupboards or pantry
You’ll have to move quickly, but 10 minutes should be sufficient time for you to jot down an inventory of what’s in your pantry. Don’t take everything out if you can’t see it all; just nudge items aside for a quick glance. Write down the item and the quantity — like if you have half a bag of macaroni noodles or an unopened box of Panko bread crumbs. Tape the list inside your pantry or cupboard door.
5. Clean out the fridge
Set the microwave timer for 10 minutes and get to work cleaning out the fridge. You don’t have time to properly clean it out, but in the very least throw away anything moldy, expired or past its prime. Wipe up any visible spills but save the deep cleaning for another time. If the timer is still running, make a list of food that is on its way out. If possible, do this the day before garbage pickup.
6. Make a meal plan
If you’re a total newbie to meal planning, you’ll need more than 10 minutes. But if you’re a more seasoned pro, take 10 minutes to review the list of your pantry and fridge contents and brainstorm five meals you can make with things you already have on hand. (This gets easier with practice.) Add any items you need to complete the meals to your shopping list.
7. Write a thank you note
Handwritten thank you notes take more effort than a quick text or email message, but most people are delighted to get a “real” thank you in the mail. Pen a few short messages to people who need a pat on the back and pop them in the mail.
8. Speed clean a bathroom
Pick the most used bathroom in your house and give it a quick once over. Swirl some toilet bowl cleaner in the toilet, disinfect the toilet seat, wipe down the counters and clean the mirror. Pull out a clean hand towel and check the toilet paper supply.
9. Start or fold a load of laundry
If you have a pile of clean laundry begging to be folding, devote 10 minutes to plowing through it as quickly as you can. Or use your few spare minutes to gather enough dirty laundry to do a load and get it going.
10. Tidy your entryway or front closet
If your front closet or entryway is overrun with shoes, jackets and stuff, take a few minutes to sort through the fray and set everything straight. Make a pile of out of season shoes or clothes that need to be stored in bedroom closets or donated if they no longer fit. If your closet is miraculously tidy, use the time to shake out your entry rug and give the area a quick sweep or mop.