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


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

  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!

    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

  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!

  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!

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

  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!