If you don't have the time (or the will) to overhaul your home, don't panic. When you've got 15 minutes to spare, just tackle one of these quick organizing tasks -- that's all the time it takes to feel more put-together.
Make the Bed
This first step might seem almost too obvious, yet sometimes even making the bed can seem daunting. With Martha's advice, you can become an expert at the single thing that makes your bedroom look and feel twice as clean in one fell swoop. It's never too late to learn hospital corners!
Purge Your Closet
There's no better time to clean out your closet than at the turn of the season. Follow the golden rule of closet organization: If you haven't worn it in a year, you probably won't wear it again. Quickly survey the closet, and bag all of your unwanted and unworn clothes for donation. Set aside those that have tears or missing buttons for our next tip.
Tackle Your Fashion Fix-Its
Gather up your out-of-commission clothes (missing buttons, minor tears, etc.) and finally repair them so you can get them back into your wardrobe rotation. Learn how to patch holes, mend seams, and sew hems here.
Mini Medicine-Cabinet Makeover
Sure, it's important to have remedies on hand for colds and minor cuts and scrapes, but if the kids are in junior high and you still have teething gel, it's time to toss it -- same goes for those prescription pills from 1997. Put all cabinet contents on the counter and toss anything expired or unnecessary. Then give the shelves a quick wipe-down and replace your essentials, putting daily-use items (like floss and moisturizer) front and center.
Restock the Toilet Paper
There's no worse time to discover that there's no spare toilet paper than -- well, you know when. Do yourself and your guests a favor by storing at least two rolls on standby near the toilet in each bathroom (beautifully contained in a tall glass vase), and stock a few more under the sinks.
Reclaim Your Refrigerator
If an unidentifiable funky smell hits you every time you open the fridge, then it's time to do some tossing. Remove and bag all items that are past their prime, then immediately throw them in the trash outside. Wipe the shelves, drawers, and door with a mix of hot water and baking soda. Let dry, and then breathe in a fresh fridge once again.
Sort Your Mail
File your stack of mail into four categories: bills, subscriptions, invitations, and, for everything else -- miscellaneous. If you're feeling ambitious, pay the bills and renew the subscriptions now. If not, you've just made it that much easier to tackle it later or find them more easily on due dates. Keep the invitations on hand for our next tip.
No one wants to be that wedding or dinner party guest who forgets to respond, forcing the host to hound them when she's got a million other things to do. Check your calendar and take care of all your invite responses now so they don't slip later. Once you've made the phone calls, sent the emails, and stamped the response-card envelopes, note the dates in your calendar that you've commited to -- and look forward to some partying!
Make a Note of Birthdays
Don't forget another birthday. Make it easier to send cards and gifts by entering all of your loved ones' birthdays into a mobile app like My Birthday Calendar, which will send you reminders.
Take Care of Returns
Do you have purchases or gifts that you need to exchange or return? Don't lose out by forgetting to take them back. Gather the items (and the corresponding receipts) and place them in a shopping bag by the front door so you can grab and go the next time you're running errands.
Organize Computer Passwords
If you're constantly forgetting the passwords for your online accounts, now is the time to set up an easy system to access them.
It's hard to keep all of those numbers and characters straight, especially since you shouldn't use the same password for more than one service. Some people store them in a document on their home computer. This is fine -- if (and only if) you encrypt the file, a feature available on most personal computers.
Encryption scrambles text, so it will be unreadable if someone hacks into your system. Even with this defense, make sure your main log-in is protected by a ''super password,'' one that has at least eight characters and a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, symbols, and numbers.
There are other, more high-tech storage options to choose from. For example, you could put your passwords on a portable USB flash drive with fingerprint recognition. The biometric device costs upward of $100, but you'll be the only person in the world who can access its contents, because only your fingerprints will open it.
Then there are programs that you can download from the Internet (often for free) that will maintain a protected database of passwords for you.
Corral the Remotes
Go around any room with a television in it and gather all the remotes. If you don't already have a holder in each room for them, designate something now. Choose a pretty box, a small bin, or decorative tray -- basically anything that can be repurposed as a remote holder -- and the family will have a place to return the remotes to each time.
Stock a Car Kit
Prepare for roadside emergencies by creating a car kit with paper towels, a first-aid kit, an auto fire extinguisher, duct tape, a flat-repair kit, bungee cords, flares, jumper cables, and other necessities. Also consider packing a messenger bag with bottled water, granola bars, a blanket, and warm clothing, in case of a breakdown.
This quick trick is great for amassing receipts, tickets, and other important documents. Just attach envelopes with glue or double-sided tape to the inside of notebooks or datebooks to help keep must-keep papers on hand.
Match Up Your Sheets
Don't let your sheet sets get lost in the linen closet. Instead, try this simple trick: Tuck a complete sheet set inside one of its pillowcases, and then stack according to size (twin, full, queen, king) or by the room you use the sheets in (master bedroom, guest room).
More from Martha Stewart Living:
15 Kitchen Shortcuts That Will Change the Way You Cook
Instant Organization: Get It Together in 15 Minutes or Less
20 Super-Efficient, Super-Effective Ways to Clean All the Things
Martha Stewart's Favorite Outdoor Halloween Decoration Ideas (52 of Them!)