Housekeeping Tips for Spring Cleaning - Use a Timer to Clean Up a Messy Room Quick in 15 Minutes

Why do they call it an "egg timer"?
Why do they call it an "egg timer"? | Source

Do you need motivation to clean your house?

I'm pretty messy and sometimes have to find ways to motivate myself. I could piddle around for hours and never finish straightening a cluttered room. Finally, I came up with a method that got me going and could actually keep me going for hours.

Much later, after I had started using this technique, I heard that the flylady (see link below) also recommended this technique. Well, I can vouch for it. If it works for a somewhat messy procrastinator such as myself, then it can work for anybody.

What is my secret? An egg timer. A simple little egg timer. I started setting my timer for 15 minutes and then would rush around one room de-cluttering, straightening, and cleaning until the timer went off. Then I would go to another room and try the 15 minute time frame again. This strategy really gets me going. It makes me much more efficient!

My Kitchen Photos Before...

My messy countertops
My messy countertops | Source
More of my messy kitchen
More of my messy kitchen | Source

Clean that Kitchen: Before and After

Recently, I cleaned my living room and kitchen using the 15 minute timed method. After I was finished and pleased with the results, I thought that I should have taken before and after pictures and used them to write an article. Oh, well, I thought, the rooms will be messy again in no time. And right I was! So, tonight, I set my timer for 15 minutes and cleaned my kitchen yet again.

In 15 minutes, I put dishes in the dishwasher; washed some pans and pizza pans; cleared off groceries, mail and numerous other things off the counters; wiped down the stove top, counters, and sink; put away the bag of cat food; straightened the rug, and swept the floor. I worked fast and had about two minutes to spare.

I was extremely pleased, as I rarely clean during the week. Doing so gives me a headstart on the weekend, leaving me more time to do things I'd rather do!

My Kitchen Photos After...

My cleared and cleaned kitchen counters
My cleared and cleaned kitchen counters | Source
My now clean kitchen
My now clean kitchen | Source
Much better in just 15 minutes!
Much better in just 15 minutes! | Source

Basic Technique on Cleaning the Entire House

Here's a method I've used before to get the whole house in good shape as fast and efficiently as possible.

--Use timer for 15 minutes per room. As soon as the timer goes off, move to the next room for another 15 minutes until you have covered every room in the house. If you finish any room before the timer goes off, do extra things in the room, or go back and finish what you didn't get to in the previous room.

--If your house needs more than 15 minutes per room, do another go-around, this time setting your timer for 10 minutes per room. Again, go through each room, stopping after 10 minutes.

--Finally, go through with 5 timed minutes to put on the finishing touches.

I've found that this method will turn out a pretty nice-looking house. Next, try 15 minutes per evening during the week to maintain your success. I'm hoping that when I get good at maintaining a neat house, then I will move on to use the timer for specific areas to de-clutter, areas such as a closet, cabinet, or even under the bed!

You are probably way ahead of me in being able to keep a neat and clean house. Naturally neat (or motivated) people perhaps don't understand the need to trick oneself into cleaning house, but those messy folks like me will definitely understand where I'm coming from.

If you have ideas and comments, feel free to leave them. Any tips are appreciated.

Messies Manual - I love this series of books by Sandra Felton!

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Comments 63 comments

Arlene V. Poma 5 years ago

15 minutes on a timer? What skill and control! I need eternity.


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

Arlene, It's really amazing how much I can get done flying around for 15 minutes. Of course, the floor isn't mopped, and the room isn't perfect, but it's a quick fix, especially if you're trying to get the house looking decent in a short amount of time (like if someone is coming over). Try it! Now, to really clean and tidy my whole house, including closets, drawers, under beds, that would take another lifetime. hahaha. That 15 minute thing has really helped me in a pinch, though!


Arlene V. Poma 5 years ago

Victoria Lynn, thank you for the inspiration, but I'm not there, yet. When I'm out and about, I hear mothers tell their kids, "Now put that back where it belongs." D-U-H. I'm not there yet, either! Don't forget to list your clutter-busting Hubs in Simone's ongoing Forum. Come socialize with us and make your Hubs known!


bayareagreatthing profile image

bayareagreatthing 5 years ago from Bay Area California

You have proof! I like that :D To totally clean my house takes a few more... ahem...days :D


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

Arlene...I don't even have kids in the house, and it's hard enough to pick up after myself! haha My hub is in Simone's forum since I responded to the weekly topic about decluttering. That brings up a question, though. How do I know about her ongoing forum? Does she have one every week? Is she the one who always puts out topics to write about, and does she put out a question every week? And how would I know? Where do I check to see? So many questions. Let me know what you know! Thanks!


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

Yes, bayareagreatthing, I thought that proof of my method would make the hub more effective and believable! I was pretty proud of myself for doing this on a Monday night after a long, hectic day at work. You're right, though, to do the whole house--now, that would take some time! :-)


Arlene V. Poma 5 years ago

Hahahahahah. I KNOW NOTHING. Oh, I was looking for your Hub, so I probably missed your posting. I think this last subject combo of home improvement/home organization/killing clutter writing suggestions by Simone is different because it lasts two weeks this time instead of a week. I want to do at least one Hub a day on her suggestions because we are always doing our own work at our home because we don't want to spend on someone else doing it. Being a homeowner, I'm sure you feel the same way. This is the first time I tried writing to Simone's suggestions, so from now on, I will always check the Forum and look for her name, announcement, and current suggestions for Hub writing. I do post my Hubs on Simone's thread as I go, and I read the Hubs put out there on the current subject by contributing Hubbers. Makes it way easier than searching the feed. When you pull up the Forum page, you easily find her near the top of the page, kinda to the left. I am enjoying this these subjects, and since I am doing the 30/30 Challenge with homesteadbound and her group (also posted on the Forum to the left and a very long thread from 2 years back), anything goes.


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

Yeah, Arlene, I work hard for the money, so I don't want to pay others.... Plus, I'd have to pick up everything (which is the bigger problem) before someone could even clean! Okay, I'll start looking for Simone in the forum. Having a topic may give me ideas to write about, although the longer I'm here the more ideas I have--without the time to write them! I'll see ya, Arlene. Have a nice evening!


epigramman profile image

epigramman 5 years ago

..I think sweet Victoria the title of my hub would be

How to clean up a room in just 15 easy years .......lol

lake erie time 4:49am


mljdgulley354 profile image

mljdgulley354 5 years ago

Great tips. I am lucky to have a husband that helps keep house. That frees me up to do the vacuuming and mopping or other deep cleaning that needs done. Loved this hub.


Mroz profile image

Mroz 5 years ago from Minnesota, USA

i'm going to try this with my toddler. I think a timer will help her get in the cleaning mood :)


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

I hear ya, Epi! it sure is hard to keep up with a house!


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

mljdgulley--Yes, you are lucky to have someone to keep house! My pets don't seem to want to help. haha I'm glad you liked the hub!

Mroz--Great idea! I think a timer would be great with children. It might make it fun for them.


samanthamayer profile image

samanthamayer 5 years ago from New Zealand

I think some other handy tips include straightening up. If you have piles of books and paper, taking a few seconds to straighten them up instantly gives a neater appearance. Also, if you do fit in some sweeping in the 15 minutes, go for corners and edges mainly - often people sweep and miss these parts. I've found it makes a huge difference visually!


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

samanthamayer--That's true about straightening piles! I'm bad about papers. Putting stuff in neat piles, even if it's still out, does make a big difference. I have to sweet around the edges to get the hairballs from the pets. Thanks for your comments!


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 5 years ago from United Kingdom

I love the timer idea Victoria, it's great and would get me moving!


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

The timer does wonders with me, Movie Master!


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 5 years ago from malang-indonesia

Very inspiring hub, Victoria. You have valuable information here. I believe that we can do this in 15 minutes. Thank you very much for writing and share with us. Rated up and useful!

Prasetio


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

It works for me, prasetio30! Glad you think it's useful. :-)


femmeflashpoint 5 years ago

Ohhh, this is very good, Victoria!

I'll add a suggestion - wear headphones and an MP3 player, and get a blinking timer, lol.

Music always helps me move faster. ;)


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

That's true, femmeflashpoint! Music is a great motivator. One afternoon I put on Michael Jackson's greatest hits and got so much done! Thanks for the comments!


Earthy Mother profile image

Earthy Mother 4 years ago from Southeast England

Oooh... I'm definitely going to try this idea Victoria! My house is extremely messy with two pre-schoolers trashing the place as well as my third overgrown 35 year old child who is incapable of even dropping his dirty clothes in the hamper! The sheer scale of the tidying task ahead of me often stops me in my tracks at the pure futility of it - but a fifteen minute dash? That is so do-able!!! Voted up and thanks!


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

Try this method, Earthy Mother! I'm a naturally messy person, and this works for me. It really gets me moving. Funny how we have to "trick" ourselves sometimes! But it works to get me going for hours. Hope it does the same for you!


lj gonya profile image

lj gonya 4 years ago

I love this hub. I'm trying to train myself not to procrastinate, and to move faster. My worst problems are becoming distracted, not throwing junk mail away immediately, and failing to straighten up the house before going to bed.


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

lj gonya. I'm much worse than you, it sounds. My house gets to be a mess so quickly. I'll turn around after a few days and wonder what happened! That's why I have to prod myself along with this timer method. Whatever helps! Hope it helps you, too! Thanks for reading!


lj gonya profile image

lj gonya 4 years ago

Victoria (by the way, my niece's name-always loved it), if it makes you feel any better, I threw everything out of my closet to sort a month ago, and it is still on the floor. Really have to work on that today!


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

lj gonya--My name is really Vicki, but I was almost named Victoria, and I love that name, too. Good luck on your closet today. I think that will take more than 15 minutes! LOL!


iamaudraleigh 4 years ago

I lmao when I read this at first...my boyfriend and I are total slobs! I continued to read and thought what you shared could totally help us out! I love the websited you supplied for us too! We sincerely thank you for writing this!!!


midget38 profile image

midget38 4 years ago from Singapore

Thanks! Very good advice especially if one loves procrastinating!


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

Alrighty. I'm setting the timer and going to give this a try. I bet you burn more calories cleaning at this speed...I'm game. Thanks for the tips!


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

You are welcome, Audra! I am naturally messy, so before I know it the whole house is a mess and I need to get motivated. This method REALLY does help get me going. Let me know if it helps you guys!


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

midget--I don't like to procrastinate, but I do it anyway. LOL. The timer really gets me in gear! Guess I have to play a game with myself. :-)


DanaTeresa profile image

DanaTeresa 4 years ago from Ohio

I like the timer idea. I always do better on things when I have a deadline. This applies that theory to cleaning.

This also goes well with my hub on overcoming procrastination. One of the strategies os to commit to something for a minimum of 10 minutes. I never thought about adding a timer.

I am going to add this as a link to that hub.


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

True, Sunshine. You have to move faster with a timer!


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

I love your photos! That's funny Vicki - I swear I am always surprised when I have like 5 or 10 minutes - how much I can get accomplished rather than watching t.v. or like that. I can unload the dishwasher in like 5 minutes!

Great hub - and I think we all wish we could have everything perfect at all times but unless you're a robot it's pretty hard!


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

Dana--When I read this comment, I was going to get my timer to use it for an article I was writing--to pressure myself--and I couldn't find it. Some organization, huh! Thanks for the link. I'm going to have to read that hub of yours!


DanaTeresa profile image

DanaTeresa 4 years ago from Ohio

Vicki - I have a timer that I bought to keep me from spending too long on things i shouldn't do for too long - like facebook! Never used it for that purpose. And, no, I don't know where it is right now. When i find it, i will try your idea!.. talk about "do as I say... blah blah blah" :) .. good luck to the both of us!!!


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

No doubt, Dana! Sounds like we need help! LOL. Gotta find that timer. I need to use it for lots of things to time myself. Maybe it would motivate me with yard work, too!


DanaTeresa profile image

DanaTeresa 4 years ago from Ohio

oooh! careful with the high speed yardwork! that is how i strained my chest. tomroow will be my third day out of work!!! plenty of time home to look for that timer :) There is a great hub by billybuc linked to the end of mine too. read that if u haven't


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

Kelly--Thanks! I know what you mean! A timer helps me not waste 15 minutes but instead accomplish a lot. I need to try that with just 5 or 10 minutes, like you mentioned. Yeah, when we have real lives, it's hard to keep things perfect. You're awesome, REALH--glad you came by!


moonlake profile image

moonlake 4 years ago from America

I use the timer on my stove when it goes off I'm out of that room. I am messy I always have a dozen things going. When the kids were home I was much neater than I am now. I kept everything under control. I just cleaned my messy kitchen. Hubbie is in bed and I have been cleaning. I have to get this computer room cleaned. Enjoyed your hub. Voted Up.


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

haha, Dana. Sorry you strained your chest. Maybe that will keep me from working too hard. LOL!


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

Interesting, moonlake, that you were neater when the kids were home. My sis-in-law is neater with kids at the house. She tells me she HAS to be efficient. Wish I could be like her. I have to have tricks like egg timers, on the other hand. LOL>


MariaTeresaM profile image

MariaTeresaM 4 years ago from Philippines

At first glance, your hub was kind of funny but after much thought, I think it could work.


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

MariaTeresa--BELIEVE ME! It might sound funny to people who are naturally neat or love to do housework, but it works GREAT for me to get going. If you're stuck, try it!


cclitgirl profile image

cclitgirl 3 years ago from Western NC

What a highly useful freakin' hub! I LOVE this! I so need to do something. Another sign we might be sisters. Who the hell has time to clean during the week and doing it on Saturdays along with lesson plans is drudgery. LOL. I don't have an egg timer but I can use stopwatch.com and keep it free and CLEAN! Haha! Love it!


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

I hear ya, CC sis! The timer really helps me. You're so right--it's hard to do housework with all this other stuff. I find it even harder now that I'm working from home this semester. So many distractions. When I worked 9 to 5, 5 days a week, I knew when housecleaning time was. It's sure hard to balance.

I like the egg timer, because you can hear it ticking--and then the big "ding!" A stopwatch will work, though. Stopwatch.com? A website? Can you hear it when time is up? True--free and clean. haha


healthwealthmusic profile image

healthwealthmusic 3 years ago from Everywhere Online ~ Fingerlakes ~ Upstate New York

I also struggle with procrastination sometimes - however, at my house it is mostly the kids that need the motivation :) I am sure the timer thing could help them too :)


Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

Tracy Lynn Conway 3 years ago from Virginia, USA

Great idea! I often do a version of the quick clean but this is often because I leave myself little time to actually get the job done, then I play beat the clock which is similar to your egg timer method. It seems like this is great motivating method for kids too!


torrilynn profile image

torrilynn 3 years ago

nice hub on how to get kids or anyone to clean up in a short amount of time. i think that it is important that you know how to clean up efficiently and quickly, especially if you are in a hurry to get somewhere or if you are having visitors. nice and voted up.


B. Leekley profile image

B. Leekley 3 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

Up, Useful, and Interesting.

I am trying a variation of your idea. As I have gotten up in age, I have gotten the problem that if I stay at my computer for very long at a time, either I get eye strain or I get sleepy. So I am doing 15 minutes of hubtivity, 15 minutes cleaning and tidying in the kitchen, 15 minutes of e-mailing, 15 minutes cleaning and tidying in the bathroom, 15 minutes of hub research, 15 minutes in the living room or back in the kitchen, and so on. Actually I use 12 minutes but maybe will try 15.

Maybe I should also fit exercise into the rotation.


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

healthweathmusic--Yes, I would think the timer would be great motivation for kids. At my house, it's just me and it works! Good luck!


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

Tracy--I'm sure it would be great for kids, but it's great for adults like me, too. Thanks for the input!


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

torrilynn--Racing against the timer can really get one going! Thanks for the comments. You are right on!


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

B. Leekley--what a great plan! I guess with using 15 (or 12) minutes, you can push through anything, huh? Yeah, add exercise to that. What a plan! Thanks for sharing!


Crystal Tatum profile image

Crystal Tatum 3 years ago from Georgia

Just discovering this hub...Great idea! I've found that this method is helpful for just about anything. I can do anything for 15 or 20 minutes, and if I know that's all I have to do, and there will be an end, I'm more motivated. I tend to overdramatize tasks like cleaning house. Putting on a t imer and just doing it is a great way to overcome procrastination!


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

Crystal--It really does help for me, too. And sometimes I get going and do a lot more than just one room!


shweta 2 years ago

timer method is a breakthrough for me! For many years I have longed for a clean home and yet have always failed at maintaining one due to procrastination. When I was reading about the timer method in some other site...some days back ...I knew it would work for me as I m at my best when I need to meet a deadline. and it actually made wonders for me..to get me going...without any resistance...n now I have actually started enjoying it! and my home is breathing free!!


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 2 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

shweta--It's amazing how much a timer really does help. I'm glad you discovered that It can be very freeing!


Laura Schneider profile image

Laura Schneider 2 years ago from Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

A fellow messy person who uses my favorite trick to clean the house! Yay, Victoria/victorious! Awesome article, and I swear by this method, too! It really DOES work! Now if I were only inspired to do it more often... LOL Thank you for writing this—I think I'll go turn on some dance music and set my timer and dig into my own kitchen. Cheers!


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 2 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

Awesome, Laura! I'm glad to hear from another person it works for. It really does! Neat people probably can't relate--LOL! You go, girl!


Wednesday-Elf profile image

Wednesday-Elf 19 months ago from Savannah, Georgia

I found this interesting because I came up with a similar idea about a month ago. I bought a timer because I found I was spending (and wasting) hours at the computer without accomplishing very much and neglecting my housework and other necessary activities (like desk and paperwork). It's absolutely amazing not only how much housework I can get done in 15 minute segments, but how much more organized my days are with 'limiting' my online time to 30 minute and/or 60 minute segments. I carry my timer around from room to room and am finding it a great motivator! I'm getting SO much more done now. I can see this same idea working well with kids - set the timer and they have X-number of minutes to 'clean their room'. :)


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 19 months ago from Arkansas, USA Author

Wednesday-Elf--It really works! And yes, I can see kids getting into it. Like a game! :-) Thanks for the input!

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