Illustrations: Esme Lonsdale
1. The Door Tax

Place an empty moving box near your door to collect items bound for Goodwill. Every time you leave your house this month, place one item in the box.

2. Cold Cut

Open your fridge. Spend five minutes disposing of week-old takeout containers, expired condiments, and smelly milk.

3. Undecorate

Challenge yourself to find five trinkets or decorative items that don't fill you with joy when you look at them. Put them in your Goodwill box.

4. The Third Degree

Chances are, you wear only what's near the top of your piles of T-shirts and sweaters. Put the bottom third of each pile in your donation box.

5. 5-5-5

In the next five minutes, find five items in the room where you are sitting to give away, five to throw away, and five to put away. Ready...go!

6. Inspector Gadget

Spend 15 minutes unearthing electronics you no longer use: e-readers, game consoles, cameras. Sell them for cash using eBay's new valet service, Sell for Me.*

*Ebay's new Sell for Me program will send you a free box (or boxes), which you can fill with items worth at least $50 in excellent condition—designer clothing, appliances, collectibles—and send back, postage free. Valets will sell your haul; you'll get 70 percent of the sales. In certain cities, you can arrange for a truck to come to your home to collect your items. Visit for more information.

7. If the Shoe Sits...

Gather your family's worn-out sneakers and drop them at any Nike or Converse store; they will be shredded and turned into playground surfaces and turf fields.

8. Primp My Ride

Go to your car with two bags. Use one to collect trash and the other for anything else that doesn't belong there, from mail to kids' toys. Return these items to their places.

9. The Reckoning

Walk into your hall closet. Identify five things that both you and I know you're never going to pull out again (old ski parkas, broken umbrellas). Donate or trash.

10. Pulling Your Weight

Weigh each family member. Now give everyone ten minutes to bag things they own to give away. Weigh everyone again; whoever has "gained" the most weight wins.

11. Company's Coming!

Pretend dinner guests are arriving in 30 minutes. What would you tackle first: the dirty dishes, the toys strewn everywhere, the pile of shoes in your entryway? Now tackle it.

12. Minute to Bin It

Dash madly around your house for one minute collecting old magazines, newspapers, catalogs, party invitations, and paid bills. Recycle or shred them.

13. Sock It to Me

Empty your sock drawer onto your bed. Put the pairs you actually wear together and return them to the drawer. Use the rest to make cleaning rags.

14. Single File

Open your file drawer and identify your least organized folder. Now spend 15 minutes making it your most organized.

15. Seven Minutes in Hell

Go to the messiest room in your house and set a timer for seven minutes. Now put things away, make piles—and keep moving! Break that mental barrier! Get started!


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