We may think we’re constantly running on empty with no time to exercise, cook or see our friends.

But even if you have only five to 10 minutes to spare — maybe while procrastinating before getting ready for an event or waiting to be tired enough to go to sleep — there are a few things you can toss to make your life a lot more organized and efficient.

We tapped organizational expert and author Barbara Reich to guide us through the areas of our home that could use a little decluttering.

Living room

In the living room, old tchotchkes and mementos may be cluttering your shelves. Your cupboards may be overflowing with unused board games (or even worse, cassette tapes). Find a show on Netflix, and give your space room to breathe. Toss this now:

• Framed photos that aren’t in focus or relevant.

• Vacation mementos that no longer fit the space.

• Accessories that have no meaning or that are creating clutter.

• Board games that no one plays.

• Anything chipped or broken.


The real culprits of our unorganized kitchen? Higher shelves. Put on a podcast, and work your way from the top down, throwing out anything that’s no longer relevant. Toss this now:

• Any food-storage container missing a top.

• Any large appliance that’s never used or doesn’t work.

• Any food past its expiration date.

• Mismatched mugs that you’ve accumulated.

• Teflon pans that are scratched.


Our closets are periodically in need of a good cleanup — but there are other areas of the bedroom that could use some decluttering: excess bedding in the linen closet or mismatched items in the jewelry box, for example. Toss this now:

• Excess pillows on the bed.

• Clothing and shoes that don’t fit or are beyond repair.

• Anything received as a gift that isn’t used.

• Bedding that doesn’t fit the bed.

• Bedding that’s old and stained.


Medicine cabinets and vanities are real magnets for beauty products and medications that go unused. While it’s contradictory to throw out a perfectly good product, you know deep down whether it’ll ever be useful. Just be real with yourself. Toss this now:

• Medications past their expiration date.

• Toiletries and cosmetics that are past their expiration date.

• Lipstick in colors you’ll never use.

• Extra travel or promotion cosmetic bags.

• Any gift items that you never use.


The space where we enter and leave our home tends to accumulate a lot of clutter: mail, paperwork, magazines — not to mention the entryway closet, which is often filled with out-of-season and out-of-fashion items. Give this space a good cleanup next time you head out the door. Toss this now:

• Old receipts that aren’t needed.

• Newspapers and magazines that have accumulated.

• Coats or jackets that no longer fit, are out of style, or are beyond repair.

• Gloves without mates.