I Tried Spending 5 Minutes Every Night to Tidy Up for a Week

Contrary to what many people might believe about me, I'm completely unorganized. Sure, when it comes to blogging and school I can keep everything organized, but when it comes to my room, it's more than clutter, it's just an absolute mess.

I have never been able to keep a clean room for as long as I can remember. I used to have things covering the entire floor with the exception of a tiny pathway to get in and out. While I have gotten better about keeping tidy than I was before, even the improvement is not enough.

My general philosophy for tidiness is "I will keep the common areas tidy, but when it comes to my personal space, I can do whatever I want with it." This means that my room always has a huge pile of clothes on the floor, you can't even see the table surface of my desk, and I move things from the floor to my bed to make room. I never really work at cleaning it bit by bit, but rather do an "all or nothing" kind of thing. Occasionally, whenever I get the random urge to clean (which is rare), I'll clean the entire room thoroughly, but when I don't have that urge (basically 99.9% of the time), I just let it be.

I was reading Gretchen Rubin's book, the Happiness Project, and I noticed something that I found interesting. She says, "Before you go to bed, take five minutes to do an 'evening tidy-up.' Don’t tackle anything ambitious, but just stack up the magazines, put your shoes away, shove the chairs into place, etc. Just a few minutes of tidying can make your house look a lot better, and it’s a calming thing to do before going to sleep. Plus it makes the morning nicer."

See more: Gretchen Rubin's 10 Tips to Beat Clutter in Less than 5 Minutes


Her idea of an "evening tidy up" was interesting to me. It was something that I had absolutely never done before, but it seems potentially doable. If it was going to help me tackle this mess that I live in, I guess that I would try it.

So here's the challenge that I've laid out for myself: Every day for one week, I will spend exactly five minutes to tidy up my room. 

Here's what happened.




Day One: The Beginning

On the first day, I had the impression that this was going to be the easiest day. I set a timer for five minutes and then began to tackle the pile of clothes on the floor. Since it was a simple task, I felt like I could get a pretty decent amount of work done given the amount of time. I found that five minutes felt like quite a long time, not only because I was able to get a decent amount cleaned in that time, but also the feeling. I would check the timer and see that there was one minute left, even when it felt like the time should have already been up. I was beginning to see the benefit in the "evening tidy up". It felt stress free and also productive given the allotted time.

Day Two: Mixed Feelings

The moment that I was standing there by the light switch about to turn the lights off and call it a night, I remembered: the challenge. Honestly, it was a little disappointing after being so ready to get in bed and sleep, but after the five minutes of clean up, I felt pretty accomplished. The room was most definitely looking cleaner (I could see the floor!) and it was all just after two days of five minutes. That day, I felt both the advantages and disadvantages of the five minute tidy up. Yes, it was annoying to have to do when all I wanted to do was crawl into bed, but it was also immensely satisfying to see how much I could accomplish.

Day Three: Satisfaction

The next day, I felt a lot better about the 5 minutes tidy up. Since the previous day, I felt proud of what I accomplished, it made me a lot more motivated to spend that designated time cleaning. I could definitely see improvements, which to me was crazy considering how little time I spent cleaning.

Day Four: Exhaustion

Okay, maybe yesterday was going pretty well, but the next day, I was feeling absolutely exhausted. I was tired, but I still pushed through with those five minutes. While I was still able to clean some things up a little, I felt like I wasn't nearly as productive with that time was as I had been previously since I was feeling a lack of motivation. What I was seeing was that although this could be extremely rewarding, depending on my mood, the success would vary. It was kind of like when I tried bullet journaling for a week. Like in that experience, there were just some days that I wasn't exactly feeling like keeping the routine going.

Related: I Tried Bullet Journaling for a Week and This is What Happened

Day Five: Finding a Way That Works

Since the previous day I was feeling exhausted, instead of doing my five minutes of tidying up right before going to sleep, but instead I decided to do the clean up about half an hour before I planned to go to sleep so that it was before I began winding down. I found that this really helped me avoid the exhaustion that I previously felt and still get my tidying done.

Day Six: Finally Understanding the Tidy Up

Okay, I wasn't as proactive as I was the day before by doing the tidy up earlier so I ended up doing my five minutes literally right before I went to sleep. I'll be honest, I definitely considered skipping it, but I still pulled through because I'm dedicated (ish). That day I had absolutely no idea what to wear and as a result had lots of random clothes on the floor. During my tidy up, I found myself cleaning up that mess but not necessarily getting any further in terms of overall cleanliness, just maintaining it. Therefore I think that the five minute tidy up won't necessarily dramatically change the cleanliness of your room but rather maintain its tidiness.

Day Seven: Embracing the Tidy Up

The next day, I remembered to do my five minutes about half an hour before I actually went to bed. I was able to organize my desk a little bit and even though it looked cluttered, it was still a massive improvement. The five minute tidy up didn't feel so tedious and I was even surprised that it had already been seven days. It almost felt... normal. While I wouldn't call it a habit, it felt like I was getting closer to it.

Would I Continue Doing The 5 Minute Tidy Up?

Actually, I think that I would. I think that just five minutes for seven days goes a long way. If you think about it, that's a total of 35 minutes that I've spent keeping tidy. Although I tend to be a sporadic cleaner, I think that by having the tidy up I can at least maintain general cleanliness of my room so that it's not an absolute mess all the time.

I Tried Spending 5 Minutes Every Night to Tidy Up for a Week
Before and after: taken right before the first day and right after the last day

I definitely saw a significant difference in the cleanliness of my room. While my floor was a lot less cluttered, I also was able to organize my desk a little more. Although there is still a lot of stuff on my desk, I can actually see the surface of the desk and have also organized it instead of just having a pile of assorted items. Throughout just seven days, I have already seen the power of a five minute tidy up. 

To address the biggest limitation that I ran into and was fearful of even before beginning the week, while it was sometimes annoying to have to do a five minute tidy up when all I wanted to do was to go to bed, it can be solved. I think that one of the big things that I've found helpful in keeping up the five minute tidy up is doing it a bit earlier rather then literally right before going to bed. Sometimes I like to do all my before bed prep (brushing teeth etc.) well before I actually plan to sleep so that I have a wind down period, so I think that I would add the five minute tidy up to that time so that I'm not exhausted as I'm doing it.

So yes, I would continue doing the five minute tidy up and I encourage you to do the same. It's amazing what you can do in just five minutes.

Will you be trying the five minute tidy up?



I Tried Spending 5 Minutes Every Night to Tidy Up for a Week

8 comments:

  1. I’m curious what happens if you add the Rubin experiment to make your bed every day.

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  2. This sounds like it might be helpful for me! I think I might struggle, however, because I wouldn't know where to start. I have an entire apartment that is often quite messy, so I think I would struggle knowing where my five minutes would be most beneficial!

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    1. I think that you should definitely try it! I started with the place that made the most visible difference (the floor) so that I would feel most accomplished + more motivated to continue!
      - Rebecca

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  3. Nice read. I agree with a previous comment about making your bed. Ive found that if you need to do to immediately improve your room's tidiness, making the bed improves the room exponentially!

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  4. I'll give this 5 minutes every day tidying up a try for my work surface...when I enter my creative bubble...I don't see the mess...it all makes sense where everything is...I think I'd be more productive if starting each day with a clean slate...I get easily distracted... it will be challenging! I'll need a timer and discipline to keep it up!

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    1. Routine is everything! Start small (like a week) and then build it into your everyday schedule!
      - Rebecca

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  5. this is totally alien to me. I'd never let it get to point A in the first place! Maybe to ensure you get to an ideal place you have to get a big tid up done first, then maintain!

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