The 10 minute cleanup

Most people focus optimizing their productivity on work. But applying the same strategies to your home can massively improve your relationship and home life.

Here’s a technique that has a major positive impact on my marriage: it’s called the 10 minute cleanup.

It’s the end of the night, you’re tired, but the house is a mess. My wife and I used to bicker about how much work it’ll be or if we should leave it until morning.

Instead, we made it a game where we set a timer for 10 minutes and both race to clean the house. When the timer stops, we drop what we’re doing and get ready for bed. No finishing tasks, no “one last thing”, no “we might as well finish”. The timer goes off, you put away cleaning supplies and walk away.

We’ve found…

  • There’s less resistance to start. Giving yourself permission to stop when the timer goes off makes it easier to start because you know you’re only cleaning for 10 minutes max.
  • Making it a race made it fun. Sometimes we race each other “I bet I can vacuum the rug before you finish unloading the dishes”. Sometimes it’s us against the clock “Let’s see if we can clean the whole kitchen after our cooking mess.”
  • You can get a surprising amount done in 10 minutes. Making it a race made it fun to move fast. And regularly cleaning quickly made us pretty good at cleaning.
  • It’s easy to keep the house tidy. When you dedicate 10 minutes every night to clean up, things don’t pile up.
  • Making it a game made it creative. Things like unloading the dishes together by creating an assembly line, wiping the crumbs off the counter and onto the floor when the other is about to vacuum, and things like that made the whole thing even more fun and efficient.

We don’t do it every night because sometimes there isn’t anything to clean up. But when the house does need a little cleanup, there’s no discussion on who does what. There’s no bickering of who made the mess and who deserves to clean it up.

We just look at each other and say:

“10 minute cleanup?”


“Start the clock.”

And we go.

We’ve consistently done this for a year and it’s so nice to constantly wake up to a tidy home.

Give it a shot tonight.