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My life got significantly better when I accepted that I am not the kind of person who can keep a perfectly clean house. It’s not that my apartment is dirty, or even particularly messy; it’s just that it belongs to a solo New Yorker who is rarely there, and who has a proclivity for making piles (which my mom refers to as “nests”). What’s helped me maintain some sanity, however, as well as the semblance of a put-together living sitch, are the tiny one-minute tricks I can pull off right before I leave the house, as soon as I walk through the door, or while I’m waiting for the kettle to heat up. These three small actions (plus some disinfecting wipes now and then) don’t add up to a spotless life, but they do help make it a far more comfortable one.
Designate an area as Stuff Purgatory.
I have one large basket where I allow myself to put…whatever. Things I’ve bought that don’t yet have a home, objects that aren’t quite garbage but maybe aren’t worth hanging onto forever, anything that stresses me out by its very existence in my personal space. The simple act of tossing everything that’s out of place into a place—however temporary—helps prop the door open to accomplishing other, more labor-intensive tasks, and makes it easier to sort through it all later. (The only catch with this is that you really do need to sort through it all later. I try to dive in at least once a week so things don't get too scary.)
Make the dang bed already.
Another door-opener of a task, which will boost your overall outlook and well-being by, like, 5% at least. If making your bed feels like a chore, it may be because we live in a world that has convinced us we all need quilts and shams and no fewer than five throw pillows at all times. Things became a lot easier for me after I saw the light and ditched my topsheet in favor of a(n easily washable) duvet cover. With no topsheet to untangle and no hospital corners to fuss with, all I need to do is pull up and smooth my duvet, then arrange the pillows neatly.
Untangle your cord nests.
You know what I'm talking about—that deeply entwined marriage of laptop charger, phone charger, iPad charger, and headphones. (If you don’t know what I'm talking about, it sounds like you might have this cleaning thing under control). Get in the habit of separating your cords and tucking them neatly out of sight every time you pass by them, before they have the chance to mate into a hopeless snarl. There are plenty of cord organizers on the market to help, or you can section them off DIY-style with some raffia ribbon (or even, if the cords are mostly hidden, a few well-placed binder clips).
What do you do to tidy up quickly? Tell us in the comments.