20 Minute Pick-Up | Organized Cleaning Strategy | Dealing With a Big Mess

While I’m usually pretty good about staying on top of picking up around the house every day and keeping the counters and floors clear of piles, I tend to neglect my home office in this regard.  I think this is because it isn’t a common space in the house, so I don’t feel as if I need to prioritize its tidiness, since it only affects me.  The truth is, however, that is does affect me negatively when my office is a mess.


Somewhere between the mad rush of the holiday season, then dashing off to Utah for a month, and jumping full swing back into posting since my return home in late January, my office turned into a jumbled mess.  A cluttered work space equals a cluttered mind and I could feel it gnawing at me every day, but I reasoned that it wasn’t as important as keeping up with the rest of the house and working on my posts to make the time to tidy.  To be honest, it had gotten so bad it felt like an overwhelming task, which is why I put it off for so long.


Finally one day last week I couldn’t take it any more.  I want my office to be a calming space where I can think clearly and be productive.  Having stuff everywhere prevents that.  I decided to allot a few hours to straightening up, but twenty minutes in, I realized it wasn’t going to happen.  There was too much to sort and it felt really overwhelming.  I gathered most everything up into small piles and let it be.  While it looked a bit tidier than before, I knew I really needed to clear all of the piles away so I could breathe easy in my creative space once again.


I decided to approach the mess like I do big organizational projects by breaking it down into more manageable pieces.  I decided to give my tried and true 20 minute pick-up system a go.  I knew there was no way I could put everything back in its place in just 20 minutes, but I figured I could at least sort things into bins in a way that would make it easier to put them away.  This way, I could get the almost instantaneous reward of clean desktops without devoting so much time to it.

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I used four of my Like-It Plastic Laundry Baskets to corral my office mess and categorize what needed to be put away.  This was a relatively quick task that I figured would make sorting and stowing each basket’s contents easier down the road.  I designated one basket for prizes to mail, one for future prizes, one for work-related items, and the other for personal items.  I also pulled out two of my favorite Reisenthel Carry Bags, which are basically soft-sided collapsible baskets, to sort any items that didn’t belong in my office.  I put items to go downstairs in one and things to store in my bedroom in the other.  All in all, this process only took about twelve minutes to complete and I used the remaining eight minutes to put my out of office items in their proper homes.  I pushed the four Like-It baskets up against my window seat so they were still in sight but out of the way.  Every day I spent 20 minutes putting away the contents of one bin at a time until by the end of the week each basket was empty and everything in my office was in its rightful place.

I noticed that the Reisenthel Carry Bags are quite pricey and a bit difficult to find now except for on Amazon.  The JanetBasket gets great reviews and is a similar style and size.  I haven’t tried one of these out personally, so I cannot attest to the quality, but it is a fraction of the price of the Reisenthel for a similar concept.  I’d be happy to purchase a JanetBasket and post a comparison review if there’s interest. 

You can watch my 20 Minute Pick-Up strategy in action in this video:

As I mention in the video, I unearthed a few treasures in my office pick-up and thought I’d run a giveaway to give these goodies a new home.  The Office Treasures Giveaway will run until Friday, February 27, 2015 at 6 PM CT.  The giveaway is open internationally.  All entrants under the age of 18 must have parental permission to enter.  One person will win a Popsugar Must Have Special Edition Holiday Box For Him, one person will win beauty items from Sigma’s Ethereal Radiance Collection, and one person will win a selection of beauty goodies from Julep.  You can enter by following the directions in the Rafflecopter widget posted below (check out this blog post for more information on entering Rafflecopter giveaways).  When you enter you will be able to pick what prize you would like in the event that you win.  I’ll announce the winners on THIS blog post and contact them directly through email, as always.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sometimes Rafflecopter experiences technical difficulties. If you can’t enter for some reason, try again later and it will probably work.

I am delighted to report that my office is as tidy as ever!  This way of breaking down a big mess into smaller segments in an organized fashion really streamlined the process and made it much more manageable.  Spreading it out over the course of the week also helped.  20 minutes seems pretty manageable compared to a few hours!  Having everything sorted into major categories made it a breeze to put things away.

I hope you enjoyed this look at my organize cleaning strategy.  I’d love to know what kinds of cleaning/picking up methods you use if you care to share.


* The Julep gift set and Sigma items I am giving away were sent to me for consideration.  I purchased the Popsugar box myself.  All opinions are genuinely my own. *


72 thoughts on “20 Minute Pick-Up | Organized Cleaning Strategy | Dealing With a Big Mess”

  1. I have never entered any giveaways, but , I have been watching your videos since forever ago. I really like the sigma set.
    Thank you and I hope you are having a wonderful start to this weekend!!!

  2. Great video! I too am a “piles” around the house kind of person. I love the idea of the bins for collecting thereby making a smaller more manageable job of finding a place for things. I wonder what you do with the white Like-It bins once you’ve emptied them? Do you repurpose them somewhere else in the house?

    1. I keep them tucked away to use for various projects around the house. I pull them out at the holidays as well to sort & corral all of my gift wrap things in my office.

  3. I would love to see your decluttering/destashing and cleaning up series! I can use any and all inspiration!!! I thank you for the chance to win your give away

  4. Somehow I came across you on you tube a few months ago and am now officially addicted to your videos and blog posts and of course on Instagram as well. You do such a great job! Thank you for sharing your tips and life 🙂

  5. Great post! I love 20 minute pick ups, I find it’s so easy for things to just get piled up, especially in our kitchen as it’s the first room you come into so it’s the ultimate dumping ground! I try and do a really quick pick up, usually of an evening on my way to bed as I’m passing thorough the kitchen and it does help!

    Love the idea of a room-by-room clear out/tidy up. I need to do the same thing myself, though our home is small, it could do with a clear out and being more organised. I think it’s a great idea to make it a monthly/community project, give it a hashtag and encourage all taking part to share pictures/ideas/etc of their (hopefully!) newly organised space. Having a month to work on one space means you don’t have to rush, and can take time putting organisational systems in place if they’re not already like there!

    Sarah 🙂
    Saloca in Wonderland

      1. Ohhhh yes! Totally love the idea of a community project ladies! I’m totally IN!

        And Jennifer, for the record I’d love to know what you think of the Janet basket. I did manage to pick up a Reisenthal on sale at CS last year that I LOVE… (#organizedjenmademebuyit) 😉 and would love a second one to use on our basement level, but discovered the same issue.

        Would also love to see details on your makeup purge/update, I desperately need to do that too.

  6. I love seeing how you work around your home. Somehow you give me the strength to do the work I need to get done. I used to be like you but since my illness I get so tired and I usually become ill. I hate it, I want to be strong again. Anyway, just a thank you for always making me smile. Our Families are so much alike so I smile almost feeling like I am related to you.

  7. I love the idea of a team tackle – March is bedrooms, April is bathrooms – YES! Lets do it!
    THis 20 minute pick up is just what I needed to get my house back in order!

  8. I am now so motivated to clean! lol thanks for that! I have been in a slump since starting my new job on night shift! <3

  9. I would really appreciate a monthly de-clutter or purge of different rooms in the house! Especially if you can helpful tips like this specific to different rooms like the pantry, linen closet, etc.

    Thank you for sharing your fun videos with us! 🙂


  10. Hi Jen,

    I would love to see some purge/de-clutter videos 🙂 Regarding ideas on sharing, Pink-so-foxy had a whole series which I really enjoyed, so it might be a good reference point?

    Thanks for running another great give away!


  11. I really like the idea of the bins 🙂 so smart of giving yourself that time and then putting away right away or that week takes some of the pressure off.

  12. Thanks for sharing! I would absolutely love to see a 2015 Full-House Purging Series like you mentioned at the end of the video. If you are looking for inspiration on ways to film this, I really enjoy PinkSoFoxy’s decluttering videos

  13. Yes, please compare the two baskets. I can’t find yours anywhere ( not even the container store) except the crazy priced ones on amazon.

    1. I wrote on Reuseit’s facebook page asking about the Reisenthel tote. Their website said they were sold out. They quickly wrote back stating they were discontinued, but they had a few of the brown dot ones left and to call customer service. So, I called and at first they told me they didn’t have anymore. Then, she checked their inventory and they had 14 left. So, I was able to purchase one. So, call Reuseit.com’s customer service and ask. The item number is 505156DOT. I got mine for $38.99 plus shipping. 🙂

  14. i love this pick up video – i really link de-clutter videos as this is a processe im going through, less ‘stuff’ more time to love the things i like xxx Would like to see the de-clutter youtube vids if you do them.
    Hope you ok have a great weekend xx

  15. Hi Jen,
    I love this video. you make cleaning so east! I like that sigma or that julep set. either one is great.

    I would like to see a series on how you would purge your home. especially the make up collections. I love seeing these types of videos!

    Have a great weekend!

  16. I saw your you tube video on this, where you mentioned doing a series of purging videos. I would LOVE to see this. I’ve been really into minimizing my things lately, and it has changed my life for the better in so many ways. I spend so much less time maintaining/clean my home that it is amazin. In fact, that is what got me using you tube to begin with, watching these types of videos from others. I can’t wait to see this if you decide to film it! (PS – I can’t comment on you tube because I don’t have a you tube channel so that is why I am commenting here and not there.)

  17. You mentioned in your video that you want to purge your makeup collection this year. I have a sugestion on that in a process that is similar to your 20 minute concept. First organise your makeup into categories the first four categories (body products, all over face, eyes, and lips) and then take a different category each day and split into subcategories depending on how much you have and what suits you best.. I would suggest the following
    Body products
    – face lotion
    – body lotion
    – hand products
    – soap/cleansers
    – exfoliants/special usage
    All over Face products
    – primer
    – moistuizers (BB creme)
    – foundations (BB/CC creme)
    – cleansers
    – anti-ageing/preventative products
    – acne products
    – concealers
    – blush
    – bronzers
    – powders
    Lip products (as I said, depending on how much you have)
    – chapstick/moisturising/repair products
    – lipsticks
    – glosses
    – lip stains
    – lip crayons (like the ones from Bite Beauty)
    – lip liners/pencils
    – mascara (waterproof/not)
    – eyeshadows (break up later by colour/brand/type)
    – eyeliners (gel/liquid/pencil) also everyday/special occasion
    – under eye concealer
    – primer

    You can purge by first removing any items that are either unusable or that you just won’t use (super bright lip colours for example). If you have products you’ve never tried, weren’t sure about the first time around, etc. take 5-10 of those and trade those into your everyday access for a month. If you don’t like them after trying them for about 2 weeks, toss them or give them away! Every month, start a new round of products. Then at the end you’ll have a collection full of products you love AND use.

    I’d love to see how your organise your home!
    Vanessa Estelí
    Colouring sight.tumblr.com

  18. I am purging my home now and would love to see how you do it. I have four children so it’s a hard task. You have been a big inspiration for me to take back my home.

  19. Dear Jen,

    great video, I really liked the style, the fun music and of course the topic. I would love such a series of a montly purge, it is something I have to do with my home too, so it would exiting to have someone guide me along the journey.

    Have a nice weekend! 🙂

  20. Hi Jen I have enjoyed your videos and watched how you continue to grow and mature its really nice I wish you the very best ..maybe some of the things you wish to get rid of in your home some of us would be interest in if that’s ok with you and you can do your prize thing like you do I don’t know a thought I had take care and your beautiful WINNIE too

  21. I LOVE this post! Great inspiration Jen! I get really overwhelmed by cluttered spaces also. I really like the idea of categorizing everything into containers and then designating sorting time for each one. Yay for anti-anxiety organization!

  22. Hi! Is this where we leave the ccoment for the giveaway? I would love the sigma makeup make up kit! Ive been to there store at Mall of america so many times, and always wwanted to try the make up! Ive been a subscriber of yours for awhile and your so inspiring and beautiful! Thank you! 🙂


    1. When you enter the giveaway there would be a poll option where you select which prize you’d want in the event that you win.

  23. Hi Jen,
    I’ve been a fan of yours for several years now! You’ve inspired me so much that I’ve joined Clever Container as an Organization Consultant! I wondered if you would be willing to post a video review of some products if I sent them to you? I would love to have your honest opinions!! Our products are high quality but not as costly as what you’d find at The Container Store. Thanks so much for considering!!

    1. I don’t accept product in exchange for reviews or mentions, although anyone is free to send anything they’d like to my public mail box. That’s my policy regarding product so I can stay genuine with my reviews.

  24. Dear Jen,
    I have just recently started following your channels. Great job! I love to organize my house too. It is always nice to get new ideas or reminders of things I used to do to stay organized. So nice to see a happy loving couple who love spending time together. Keep up the good work.

  25. I love that you had to clean up your office and that you broke it down in to pieces, that you kept at it, found fun, cool stuff, and you did it!

  26. Hi Jen! Loved this video and even more excited in the series of a total home purge. I am about half done and still have 2 BR’s, a family room, night stand and 2 bath rooms left to do. Loved how you piled. I’m a piler!! Loved the bins. I’m gonna look for them on Amazon! Love you Jen! Keep being you. I’ll be watching!! Thank you! Warmest, Darla. 😉

  27. Hi Jen

    Yes I would love to see your Home Reorganization! I have learnt so many tips over the years but there are always room for new ones!! Since my daughter moved out, my clothes have now spilled over into her room!! I am trying to operate a one item of clothing in, one item of clothing to the charity shop system, but I always end up buying something in the charity shop too!! Lol


    Clodagh xo

  28. I remember your first 20 minute pick up video- I’ve been using the idea ever since! Amazing what you can accomplish in 20 minutes!
    Would LOVE a series where you sort through each room in your house. We could all get on board each month and do the same room in our homes!

  29. I realy enjoyed watchig your video.
    i love the way you do a such great job and how you are so well organized.In French:bravo!c est excellent!
    Thank you for sharing your tips,I love your videos .
    Have a fab weekend my dear!

  30. Hi Jen,
    I can’t wait to see your purging/decluttering videos. Another you tuber “How Jen Does It” did something similar and it was great! It will be good to see how you go about doing it and what you actually get rid of. I love watching these kind of videos – it always makes me want to clean 🙂

  31. Jennifer, Your fun video reminded me of coming into my teen aged son’s room to find piles of things on every surface. When I asked him what the piles were about, he stated they were his “corrals”. To this day, as a young newlywed husband, his wife has gotten used to his corralling piles. I will be sure and share the use of handled bins to transport the items to be put away! Have a lovely week ahead. Elizabeth

  32. Great ideas Jen makes it so it’s not so overwhelming to do a clean up task when you organize it in this manner. I would love to see your purging video’s. You always have such great idea’s for around the house. Thanks for all all the organizing tips love them. Have a great weekend. hugs Mandi

  33. Hi Jen,

    Your organization vids are what got me watching you years and years ago…would love the sigma set but the julep set looks great too. All the best to you


  34. Hi Jen!
    I would like to see the “tackle one room at a time” video series, especially if you can show us how to declutter/purge while still having that room be functional…

    Thanks for this 20 minute decluttering video, too. My office is my home dumping ground, and I have reached “critical mass” recently. This video is the “You can DO this!” hug I needed today.

  35. I think that a series on purging would be a great idea. I for one, am a minimalist, so any time I get to hear about someone purging, I say bring it on! Clutter free is the way to be 🙂

  36. Hi Jen,
    Like you I am very well organized and I need a clean neat home to feel calm. I also have a “problem room”- mine is my closet My husband and I have separate walk in closets, I guess that is the reason why I let mine go.

    I love the idea of a purge video. I did one mayor one a little over a year ago after Kiana my cat of 14 yrs passed. That affected me to my core but also opened me up to find a new perspective for my life. Love, family, friends, my dogs, that is what’s important. I felt a need to simplify my life. Starting with my closet, I just had too much -clothing, handbags, shoes, accessories, beauty items, fragrances etc, etc, etc.. I kept my most necessary and my very favorite items; and since I have very nice things and take very good care of them I decided to have a little “party”, displayed all the stuff I was letting go and had my 2 sisters, mom, SIL, niece, a couple of friends and let them have whatever they wanted, they were so appreciative and we had a great time. The rest I either sold on Ebay or donated. My husband was on board with me so we tackled the rest of the house, he had his own “garage party”. It is such a freeing feeling. I have what I need and love and do not buy things indiscriminately anymore.

    My closet is still a problem, though. 😉

  37. Hi Jen, I enjoyed this video, you were the first youtuber I ever watched. I was looking for storage ideas for my craft room and I was hooked on your videos. I definitely need to do a purge in my craft room now.

  38. Boy did I need this inspiration today! I’ve been putting off some major cleaning/sorting/stashing (3 rooms) for months now and I’m at the stage now where we’re teetering on then brink of it being completely overwhelming. I’m going to try the bins system and see how that goes, it definitely seems like it would work for me. Wish me luck!

    Thanks for sharing as always, I hope you’re having a great weekend xx

  39. Great idea on the 20 minute pick up. I think doing one bin per day makes it a task that I would not try to avoid nearly as much.
    Thank you for the giveaways! I would choose the PopSugar Must Have for Him. My son turns 18 in early April and will be off to college in August. The box seems like such a great “grown up” box for him.

  40. Love your videos! I’ve used quite a few to organize my bedroom and closet, I plan on tackling the rest soon. Thanks so much for sharing all your tips and vlogs!

  41. I’ve just watched your video on the 20min Pickup and really enjoyed it! I felt like it was so similar to what you used to do, and felt inspired after watching thank you!

    I definatly think you should do your room a month idea. And I would definatly follow along with you doing my rooms with you. It would be kind of like that fly lady, only simpler and more fun, (I find her method too complicated, but maybe I’m just simple haha) Perhaps you could put up a video on the 1st of the month, with instructions on which room, show us yours etc. and then have another video after a week or so of you doing yours.
    Great idea for a series.

  42. Hi Jen!
    I like the idea of a massive purge, but have no idea how you could film that. For me, the problem with having to do a purge (which I am in need of but am procrastinating like a pro!) is that it can be emotional. It is apparently, common for people to become tied to their stuff, or not be able to let go of things, so if you can figure out a way to help with that aspect, we can start calling you Dr. Jen!

    Thanks for the 20-minute pick-up. I love that it’s 20 minutes PERIOD so it doesn’t feel overwhelming. I think I’m going to do a 20-minute tomorrow. Minor commitment, but I am sure I’ll feel better after.

  43. I enjoyed the 20min pick-up video – inspires me to do the same, but I think I need more like an hour each day, haha! I love the room-a-month idea and I too, should jump on this method as well. Hmmm….. now you have my wheels turning! Thanks for the opportunity to win some of your goodies!

  44. Hi Jen!
    Loved this video so much. I am doing a decluttering of my home and I would LOVE to see a series from you on that. Your organizational videos are so motivating and inspiring. Thank you, keep them coming!!!

  45. The video is really cool! Thank you for sharing! I am planning a big spring cleaning soon and this post is really motivational! Thanks! 🙂

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