Are You Ready? The FIFTEEN Minute Challenge

I realized last week as I looked at the daunting task of re-organizing my closet that there was no way I had the few hours of time it would take to accomplish such a monstrous challenge.   So I started thinking . . . what if instead I set aside just 15 minutes each day to tackle the job?  Now you need to understand,  my closet was a disaster . . . completely unbelievable . . . we haven't cleaned it out in FIVE YEARS! And while I'm pretty good about keeping the rest of my house tidy (well, as tidy as three kids and a messy hubby allow), I had pretty much given up on even starting this mess!


I can't believe I'm sharing this with actual real live people, but here's how it looked when I started . . .  please know that the rest of my house really isn't this bad . . . it's just our horrible closet . . . and no one EVER is allowed in there . . . well, except now all of you reading this . . . WHY AM I SHARING THIS WITH YOU??? (I'll stop babbling now. . .)

So last Monday I started spending 15 minutes hanging out in my closet.  I brought my radio, a few toys for Reagan (my 3 year old) to play with, and set my timer each day for just 15 minutes to really focus on the job.  When the timer dinged I walked away, and here's what just seven 15-minute sessions accomplished . . . WOOHOO!

So, today it's your turn! Do you have a chore in your home that's so overwhelming you don't even know where to begin?  Would you love to clean out a closet, change your kid's summer clothes out for cooler weather outfits, organize your coupons :), or even tidy up your attic or basement space?  Do you feel (like I did ), that setting aside several hours to do it just can't happen, so you just let it go?  Well today is your day to start! Begin today with just fifteen minutes to tackle that job, and when the timer is up, YOU ARE DONE FOR THE DAY.


Here are a few tips I learned . . .


1) Be faithful to do the job each day or it won't get done (no skipping out here!)


2) Take small portions each day to focus on. I once heard on Oprah that the only way to organize your mess was to completely take everything out of the area (in my case the closet), before starting the re-organziation process.  I believed that for years (which is probably why I never tackled my closet.)  I NOW WHOLE-HEARTEDLY DISAGREE.  If I had taken everything out of that closet, I would have spent the entire week nauseated and completely overwhelmed by the task at hand.  But by tackling small areas – one set of shelves, my own shoes, my hubby's shoes, the hanging clothes. . . I brought the job down to bite-sized bits that were manageable for the amount of time I had to spend on them.


3) Bring music with you 🙂


4) Don't get overwhelmed if the challenge seems insurmountable! I really thought I would get it done in five 15-minute sessions.  Well, in all reality it took seven.  But the trick is to keep trudging on and WORK TOWARDS COMPLETION.  You'll feel like a new person!


5) You don't need to spend money to get organized! As I started tackling my closet, I really believed that I needed fancy new shelves, extra storage bins, and new shoe racks to organize my closet.  And yes, those things certainly would have been nice (and I'll probably spend a few pennies to grab some . . . I'd like to at least get a cute hanging shoe organizer from TJMaxx!)  But they are not necessary to get organized, just cleaning things up makes such a difference!  (And if you enter to win the $10 Target Gift Card, you'll have a little organization money!)


6)  Organizing your mess will help you pinch a few pennies! As I cleaned my closet out, I realized that both my husband and I have quite a few more clothes than we thought we had!  He thought he needed a new belt, but guess what?  I found TWO perfectly fine belts down deep underneath that disaster!  I also just knew I needed to go buy three or four new pairs of jeans to start the winter, but I realized I have four pairs of jeans that are fine, so my shopping list is way smaller than I thought it was!


7)  Take a before and after picture! I felt ridiculous taking a picture of my disastrous closet last week, but I was amazed today when I went back and saw the before pics.  Because you're taking this job on slowly, you may not see immediate progress, but those pictures tell the whole story!  And, if you have some amazing pics to share at the end of the week, send them to me and I'll share them so we can all WOOHOO with you!


So, are you with me?  I know this won't be nearly as fun to do each day as those 5 minute challenges, but it's going to feel so good at your house when you tackle that big ole' job!


Leave a comment with what area you're going to work on this week, and I'll add you to the $10 Target Gift Card.  Each day we'll do a daily check in to see how things are going at your house, and you'll have another chance to win.  So go ahead, get up, walk away from the computer, set that timer, and GET TO WORK!!!  (It's only 15 minutes . . . you can do this!)


I have to share with you guys that I had another picture of my closet that wasn't quite as bad, but when I showed my hubby this one he laughed hysterically and said I'd better share it!  OUCH!!!  It hurts to have it out there!  PLEASE someone out there let me know I'm not the only one with this kind of mess (it really feels amazing to walk in there now . . .)  🙂

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  1. Look at you! What a great job…and how brave you are to show the before picture for ALL THE WORLD to see!
    If you can do it, then I guess I have to do it…here goes nothin!

    • Oh Susan . . . you just reminded me that the whole world can see this! (If you see this post surprisingly removed you’ll know that my pride got the best of me . . . )

      I promise you’ll be amazed at what 15 minutes will do, I think I worked harder because I knew that I was done after those 15 minutes, so it worked so well for me!

  2. Need to clean out my kids clothes to get ready for colder weather. Must admit I was completely dreading it until I saw this post. I think 15 mins a day will be just enough to get them to help out with this job.

  3. Okay, I am going to tackle the guest room, which sort of includes switching out summer/winter clothes. Wow, I have been dreading this one for some time…wish me luck!

  4. Ok this is going to take several weeks if I only spend 15 minutes a day… In February I quit teaching and I have twenty 30+ gal. size bins full of stuff from books to crafts items. I need to sort through these and decide what to keep, what to donate and what to trash. I have been afraid to part with anything just in case I change my mind and return to my career. This challenge will make me tackle this overwhelming job.

  5. I am going to start working on our master closet too…hopefully I will have as much success as you did!!

  6. I think I’m going to take this week’s challenge to finish up unpacking and organizing the new apartment. You are such a lifesaver! Today, on to pulling out old clothes for a Goodwill trip!


    Good job! My closet used to look like that too haha! That’s what 3 kids and a husband does to ya, I guess!

    I am going to tackle the closet underneath the stairs. We moved in about a month ago, and that’s where I have chosen to put all the crap!

  8. This week I’m going to tackle the playroom! It has become a disaster area since I started working on my master’s in June. This is my week off before classes begin again, so I’m determined to get the job done!

  9. UGH! Guess that means the HUGE pile of clothes that I just put into 3 boxes when I helped the kids switch out their clothes this weekend. I just shoved them all into the guest room to do later. Guess now it is the later. Figure out which of my oldest to keep for hand-me-downs and which to donate and which to sell. Same with the younger, but it is just donate or sale. I must say the guest bedroom closet is a great place to go ahead and hang the things for te spring sales!

  10. I have an attic space that I open the door and toss things as hard as I can…. I began it today and will continue the challenge. Thanks alot. (Hint of sarcasim…)

  11. OOPS, I’m busted too. I just wanted to pat myself on the back for cleaning our whole house INCLUDING dusting the ceiling fans. BUT I like you don’t even include our closet as part of our house. But you have inspired me. 15 minutes a day here I go…

  12. I swept and mopped the kitchen. Wow it was nasty

  13. You’re doing great! I need to work on my bedroom closet and toy clutter today. You’ve inspired me!

  14. I need to work on the pantry and kitchen countertops.

  15. I’m so proud of you 🙂 So far I’ve worked on my laundry room and mail stack.

  16. You know that room attached usually to the kitchen. Some call it the “garage”, but I call it the catch all. I’ve got to work on it. It has all of everything we use in a year. Christmas, Soccer, Softball…..straitening the garage is what I’ve got on my list. Thanks for the encouragement!

  17. So hilarious that this is exactly what I needed to read today. A good reminder that I am not the only one with insurmountable tasks to tackle. I think it would be fun if you did this as a link party each week. I would totally link up! My task, if I can commit myself, is to tackle the “garden”. Currently, there is a pumpkin growing in the middle of my still-blooming rose bush! I did get a total of five pumpkins this year, but you can see how I’ve tended them!

  18. and I just wonder how it is we are always saying we have nothing to wear…….I wonder what the TYPICAL clothes closet in Costa Rica looks like…….as Americans we take so much for granted…….I know this takes you lots of time but just remember that although you are working hard on this site you at the same time are teaching your children the value of sharing and caring and frugality… frugality a word……I guess not but you get the picture I’m sure!

  19. Yvonne Warthen says

    Clean out my office I will take a before picture to share later when it's done. It will take at least 20 sessions if not more.

  20. Jennifer Kant says

    My closet shelves! o.O **Blehhhhh**

  21. Rachael Middleton Moormann says

    I will be sharing this with my 13 year old daughter, she gets easily overwhelmed . I hope this might give her a manageable approach to help her.

  22. Diedre Michelle Howe says

    I need to do this to my craft room/toy room! I will begin this task tonight!!!

  23. Going to start my craft/dumping ground room, I think 15min is doable. I usually set the goal to get the floor cleaned up first and can't get it done so this will be good.

  24. Our closet for sure! (hanging my head in shame…)

  25. Joan Lieby Buckler says

    Have multiple sizes in my closet. Need to work on cleaning the clutter.

  26. Joan Lieby Buckler says

    Have multiple sizes in my closet. Need to work on cleaning the clutter.

  27. Kristin Simmonds says

    My bedroom and other choice corners in the house.

  28. Ruth Van Raalte Bennett says

    Putting away laundry. It has overtaken my bedroom.

  29. My closet looks like yours–the before picture!

  30. You're not the only one! I'll be working on organizing paperwork from my small business!

  31. Maritza Arroyo says

    I moved back into my home in July after a flood. My bathroom is a total disaster and haven't found it in me to begin tackling it. Just looking at it makes me feel sick to my stomach. But in Monday I will begin my 15 minutes. Let's see how it goes.

  32. I have started moving my crafting area to another room while also cleaning and letting some things go! Lol hopeing to turn that area im clearing into something clean. So dar it has taken a dew months to get it going but i will do thw 15 min a day challenge!

  33. My closet! Love this idea:)


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  2. […] to Passionate Penny Pincher? To see what started this week’s 15 minute challenges go HERE, and go HERE or HERE for updates on how folks are doing! This entry was posted on Friday, […]

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