Day 286 Out of sight, out of mind

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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. Out of sight is definitely NOT out of mind for me. I don’t care how neatly organized my clutter is -it’s still THERE and I know it. I want it completely out of my life. Well, we hardly have any left but I’m yearning for even more minimalist home so I still keep de-cluttering. After that I will start working on my studio (away from home, or I would have done it already!)

    • Hi Cat’s Meow,
      That is exactly how I feel – I know it’s there and I want it gone – and I won’t stop until I’m satisfied with the result.

  2. This post is on familiar ground for me – it was when our clutter started exceeding our storage that I first began to feel uncomfortable about it. This took a long time as we had a large house with lots of cupboards and closets and a full basement, but over the years of just storing items instead of choosing what to keep and what to let go, eventually we reached our storage limit. Then, all at once we needed to store items from a closed business plus numerous items from a parent. It completely overwhelmed any open spaces we had. At the same time our usual clutter was still expanding into corners of rooms and on top of furniture. I have stemmed the tide of incoming items, and dealt with a fair bit of our stuff, but I feel like I had a close call and will never be complacent about it again.

    • Hi Jo,
      I am lucky I haven’t had to deal with some of the unexpected clutter that you have had. It is not an easy task to deal with it all at the moment it enters your life that way. I think it is better to take your time to choose what should stay and what should go and have the time to redeem as much value out of it as possible. Especially in the case of a closed business you would want to realize as much worth as possible I would think. Keep working away at it and you will be so satisfied when you are done.

      • Thanks for the encouragement, yes the business stuff is different because it really does have value, unlike some of my other clutter 🙂

  3. Oh… I can SO relate to this one! Except that I’m not a neat freak by any stretch of the imagination. My problem is that every shelf, every cupboard, every drawer, every closet is completely full. So everything just ends up in a pile on the desk, or table, or floor. And the situation has gotten more complicated since the “new” kittens (now a year old) have grown up and can no longer be contained… so everything breakable had to be packed away, and every thing is “a toy” according to them! It’s revealing some serious drawbacks to my “file by pile” system!

    But I’m working on it. In the past few weeks I’ve given away a big box of books, moved another box worth down to the storage room, moved stuff out of the kitchen and into the storage room so that the cupboards aren’t quite so crammed full (still a lot of work to do on that front) and while I was in said storage room, I got rid of an electric frying pan which I have actually never even used. I bought the thing for a demonstration I was going to do at a free market, and then ended up not doing. My “pack rat” side was saying keep it, but fortunately I recently read the book “Slow Death by Rubber Duck” and will NEVER use anything Teflon again… so to FreeCycle it went!

    I know using the storage room is sort of a cop out, but the “I might need this” voice just won’t shut up! It’s an improvement at least.

    Next on my list… going through the desk drawers and creating some space there… I’m dreading it… there are piles of old floppy disks and zipdisks some of which I know have sensitive info on them and must be erased before I can either toss them or donate them… which means dragging out the old PC that can read them… But I’m going to persevere!

    Thanks for continuing to provide inspiration!

    • Hi Rebecca,
      I think artists and handypersons find it harder to part with those “I might need this” items more so than anyone else. We tend to be very good a looking outside the box and seeing the potential to use things for reasons other than for what they were intended. I will give you some things to consider though.

      1.) Was there anything that you moved down to the storage room that you couldn’t pick up on Freecycle if you decided you needed one.
      2.) Was there anything you moved down to the storage area that you couldn’t live without even if you did decide you had a use for it.
      3.) Would you consider donating the items you moved to the storage area if they are still unused in 6 months?
      4.) What is more important to you – Being prepared for a rainy day or living every day happily clutter free?

      I know I am mean and cruel but that is what you love about me so when you are finished cursing me give my questions some serious thought. 😉

      Some people complain about turning into their mothers but I think I really am turning into those evil nun’s from my school days. 🙁

      • OK… well let’s see… your points are very well taken. I think it might be easier to start by going through what’s already in the storage room. The thing is… there’s stuff down there that I thought I’d never use again, but sure enough, I ended up re-purposing some of it this summer…. but there is always FreeCycle for this purpose…. It’s worth another look.

        I really think that a bunch of my attitude has to do with living the vast majority of my life on very little income. I’ve always figured that I’d rather spend my time doing things myself than doing something for someone else so I can make money to hire someone else to do things for me. “Making do” is sort of a way of life for me.

        But there does come a point….

        I’ll let you know how it goes. In the meantime, you got me thinking so much about neatness that it inspired a post of my own:

        • Hi Rebecca,
          I understand there are only so many hours in the day and you seem to have them pretty much full of other work pursuits to find time for housework and I can understand that. Like you I am pretty good at doing for myself rather than getting someone to do things for me but you seem to have it down to an art form. I am envious of you because I am at a stage where I would also rather work for myself than being taken advantage of by big business which is why I just quit my part time job. All I have to do is figure out what I want to do while you seem to have that all sorted. Good for you.

          Your idea to work on one area at a time until it becomes a habit it a great approach and I hope it works for you. Even if you only added a new area once a month you will get there in the end. I wish you luck. I look forward to hearing how you are progressing.

          • Thanks so much for your support. I wouldn’t say I’ve got ANYTHING about life “all sorted out” not by a long shot! I just think that work, like life, is a constant work in progress. Congrats on quitting your job! WOO HOO!!!!!

            BTW – you totally inspired me, so I did some re-arranging and sorting and I now actually have some counter space in the kitchen!!! I moved about 6 boxes of crap downstairs, and have a big pile for ebay/freecycle/donations.

            Seriously, it’s more counter space than I have ever had EVER… at this house or any previous abode. This could get addicting…

            • Hi Rebecca,
              I am glad to have been of help to you and it is entirely my pleasure.
              Actually you have just inspired tomorrows post. Symbiotic relationships are a marvellous thing. My mind can go off an quite a tangent when answering comments and that is a great thing at times. Even though what you wrote doesn’t necessarily relate to my resulting post I still got there through my unique thought process due to you. So please don’t be insulted when you read the title of tomorrow’s topic.

        • Hi Rebecca – This comment may get lost in this thread, but for what it’s worth, here it is. You mentioned having to erase old disks – if you already know you will be disposing of them, you can destroy them with a hammer instead of erasing them. Of course, this doesn’t work if you need to review them to decide if there is anything you need to keep!

          • Ha! My boyfriend, the uber-geek was just telling me the same thing last night. Except he says that if you want to be totally sure nobody can read them, you have to cut the actual disk inside, not just break the plastic covering.

            So now I come up against environmental guilt… maybe somebody could use them…. aaarrrrggghhhh!!!

  4. Like you, I think I’m at the stage where the obvious clutter is gone and now I’m tackling the stored and out of sight clutter. I keep going through the same drawers and closets and getting rid of more and more stuff with every inspection. I keep wondering if I’ll ever be done or will this be a continuous process. At times I get weary, but then I get renewed motivation and energy and go at it again.

    • Hi Di,
      Like you I have gone through the same areas over and over again. I don’t think that we missed anything the first time it is just that we have got more selective as time has gone on. The more we embrace the minimalist feel the more stuff we are willing to part with. I don’t care if I have to go over these areas several more times until I am satisfied that is just part of the process.

  5. The first time it really hit me that there was too much stuff around was when I emptied a parent’s stuff into mine. The garage couldn’t hold the car anymore. Then four years ago we moved into a very small house from the largest one we’d ever lived in. It was over crowded and so uncomfortable! With this most recent move three years ago, I’ve determined to love the open spaces! It seems like every week if not every day I see something else that just isnt’ going to ‘make the cut’ to stay in my house any longer. Slowly but surely…

    • Hi Betty,
      judging by todays comments anyone who has been at this decluttering mission for a while learns to become more ruthless as time goes by. This is no surprise to me but it is nice to see the evidence of it in writing.

  6. I read somewhere (decluttering is one of my favourite subjects!) that you should always try to keep an empty shelf. I love this idea and now have one in my wardrobe, and one shelf in the under cupboard stairs. I can’t remember the original significance of it….something along the lines of having room to embrace new opportunities perhaps.

    Whatever the reasoning it does feel pretty good 🙂

    • Hi Anna,
      My empty shelves keep moving. One day they are in the kitchen and then I reorganize the display cabinet and move things from there to the kitchen and the next thing I know the empty shelf is in the display cabinet. At least it is still somewhere I suppose.


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