Member of:


This Month's Article

More Published Articles

From Betsy Peterson, "Getting Organized" Article for Visions Magazine.

"Get Reorganized!"

It all started with the ten minute rule. I am often asked to give presentations for groups who want to know the usual: How to get organized. Keep in mind that we are all different and what works for one person may not work for another. However, this simple rule does seem to work for just about anyone. I love feedback and repeatedly, people tell me that the ten minute rule worked for them! This is the one tip that seems to have the most impact of all of the countless organizing tips that I know. People fail to get organized because they are overwhelmed, frustrated, and can’t figure out how to get started. So here is how it works.

  • Pick the space that bugs you the most. It can be anywhere in your home; desk tops, countertops, bathrooms, bedrooms, closet, garages, e-mail inbox, etc.

  • Determine what you would like it to be. You know that there is a nice space under there somewhere. You know that you would like to use this space for something other than piles of papers, clothes, or just stuff.

  • Focus on one small portion of this space. Instead of trying to do all of it all at once, you are breaking it down into “do-able” segments.

  • Set the timer for ten minutes and begin the process of reorganizing this very small space. A small part of the whole space, in a small amount of time, gives you instant gratification. Do not allow any disruptions or distractions during this time, focus on the task and when the timer goes off, stop! You can immediately see the results of working for ten minutes on a pile of papers on the desk, a heap of stuff on the countertop, the cabinet in the bathroom, the pile on the chair in the bedroom, the shoes in your closet, the area around the door in the garage, deleting the junk mail in the in-box, etc.-you get the idea. In the ten minute session you can remove all of the objects that you do not want in that small space.

  • You can decide what you want to have in this space. Instead of trying to reorganize the whole room, working on reorganizing specific spaces, in small increments of time helps you to stay attentive to the task.

  • You can use this small segment, ten minute concept with the accumulated “discard” and “relocate” piles (items that need to go somewhere else). For ten minutes, work on finding a new home for items in the relocate pile. If the “discards” are to be donated, make sure that they get there. Do not allow these piles to stick around. A small pile, ten minutes at a time, is a lot more do-able and controllable.

  • You can continue with this small segment, ten minutes at a time until you have the whole space the way you want it to be. These segments are you’re choosing – two to three times a day or several times a week, just be realistic and attentive.

  • Once you have a space reorganized, use the ten minute rule to keep it that way. For ten minutes a day, tidy it up! Once a space is reorganized, it will not magically stay that way. However, if you straighten it up, on a routine basis - just ten minutes! - you will be able to maintain an organized space.

Start small, in short time increments. Most people are amazed at what they can accomplish in ten minutes. I have clients that are now able to clear out the in-box, clear off the counters or pick up the bedroom floor in ten minutes or less. Some of my clients with small kids have created the ten minute game at the end of the day to de- clutter. So while you are setting up ways to improve your life, add the ten minute concept to the routine. You can find that great space you knew you had in there somewhere. You can purge the piles, clear out the junk drawers and reclaim spaces. Set the timer for ten, ready set, get reorganized, and let me know how it goes.

Betsy Peterson, CRTS, is the owner of Space and Time, LLC. Peterson is a Professional Organizer and a Certified Relocation and Transition Specialist. She is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO), National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM), and the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization (NSGCD). She provides services in residential and small office organizing solutions, aging-in-place, downsizing, senior moving and staging. Betsy can be contacted for additional information by calling 207-7295 or by e-mail at Visit her website,, for information, tips and articles.


back to the top of page


© 2006 Space and Time, LLC.           PO Box 4235, Oak Ridge, Tennessee 37831          (865) 207-7295