Storage is often not a solution by Deb J

We have all seen the magazine articles, books and TV programs on organizing.  They tell us that if  we buy these particular products or use these particular items we will go from a cluttered mess to everything organized in a snap.  The problem is that out of sight doesn’t mean it’s out of mind or make clutter any less clutter.  Making it pretty doesn’t make it go away.

Over and over many of us have bought and used multiple storage solutions trying to make things look like those magazine pictures.  Unfortunately, these solutions are only as good as how good everyone is at putting things back where they belong.  They are only good as long as you can find/remember what you have and where you put it.  I know that for myself.  I have spent hundreds of dollars over the years trying to keep a handle on all the stuff.  I even bought into the idea of a “craft room” with hundreds of “organised” craft supplies is ok so I’d have exactly what I needed when I needed it. But what I ended up having was a lot of stuff I didn’t need and never used.

There is nothing wrong with storage solutions as long as we really need them. When they hold only what we need and aren’t so numerous that we can remember what we have and where it all is.  Storage is not always a solution.  In many cases, it is a mask, a way to not have to deal with the work of making choices and counting the cost of what we have.

I came one day to the point where I realized I needed to stop using storage as that mask for my clutter.  I needed to not only declutter the storage solutions but I needed to declutter the things going in them.  When it came to my creativity why did I need all those excess stickers, stamps, embellishments, tools, etc?  What made me think I needed all of that paper?  Scrapbooking is an industry, with blogs, magazines, and other forms of media to keep crafter informed about all of the products out there and all of the ways “scrapbook artists” can store these supplies.  I came to the realisation that if I do not scrapbook as a career, I do not need to have so many supplies. Supplies that in my case would last for years.  I don’t need to have hundreds of dollars sunk into supplies for my hobby.   

There are numerous reasons we buy storage solutions for our homes. Yours may be quite different to mine. But do you need storage or less stuff. As Colleen always says “Get rid of the clutter and the organising will take care of itself.”  Which means, when the excess is gone what is left will have a logical, easy to access position in your home. Simply because what is left ought to be constantly useful to you so close at hand. No stored away in sealed boxes in hard to reach places. I hope this will help you to count the cost before your next purchase or stuff or storage to keep it in. 

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter old school papers of either the adults or children in the house.

“If we do not feel grateful for what we already have, what makes us think we’d be happy with more?” — Unknown

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About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. Best line here: “Which means, when the excess is gone what is left will have a logical, easy to access position in your home. Simply because what is left ought to be constantly useful to you so close at hand.” Good job Deb.

  2. I have always considered organizing and decluttering to be part of the same process, and storage plays a part. As we organize our things, we de-clutter some. As we de-clutter things, we organize the rest. We all have things we need to store, whether it be socks in the dresser or camping gear in the basement. The important thing is to keep our storage active and not use it as a a burial ground for dead stuff. Keeping our kayak gear in a storage tub over the winter is ‘active’ storage. The unlabelled boxes of miscellaneous junk in the basement is ‘burial’. Still working on the latter.

    • Wendy B – burial ground sums it up perfectly.

    • Wendy B–I too like the term “burial ground.”

    • Wendy, I have now added your sentence about “burial ground” to my book of simplicity quotes.
      You are immortalized forever! Well, till someone declutters my book to its burial ground after my burial. : ).

      • Hi Brenda. I strongly suspect you will declutter the book to the recycle bin when you discover you no longer need it.

        Speaking of immortalized forever (almost)…today I received a large envelope from my mother including postcards from one great-aunt to another (1926), a newspaper article I wrote in 1984, and a note I sent to my aunt thanking her for a birthday gift — 53 YEARS AGO!! Who keeps this stuff?!?!? Just don’t tell my mother what I just did with it…

    • Great comment, Wendy B!

    • Well said Wendy B, there is always a place for useful storage. I do that with my winter clothes in the summer and summer clothes in the winter. In and out they go. If they were clothes stored that never got used then that would be wasted storage and wasted space.

  3. Deb J, thank you for this clear and to-the-point post. I decluttered a huge stack of “crafting supplies”, that were actually just children’s books my boys destroyed that I felt too guilty to let go of. But really I had kept them for a few years and nothing was happening, so to the recycling they went. I had two of those jumbo sized food-up fabrics storage boxes left emptied after the process so I passed them on to my much craftier sister. They were in perfect condition but I no longer needed them. Since we don’t have a lot of storage space here that helps keep clutter at bay. I have two linen closets that in addition to our linens hold my fold-up boxes full of school supplies, art supplies, and our small holiday stash, and miscellaneous things we need for our home. Most of them I am in and out of all of the time, but after Colleen posted about scrapbooking supplies last year I have had my eye on my scrapbooking stuff, that I will realistically never use. So going for the obvious junk crafting stuff is so much easier to start letting go. And I may end up with a few more empty boxes. It’s funny that as you declutter so much and maintain your efforts you start to suddenly see clutter for what it is, even if it passed the test the third or fourth run through.

    • I meant fold-up. My phone changes words.

    • Jean, I like your ” It’s funny that as you declutter so much and maintain your efforts you start to suddenly see clutter for what it is, even if it passed the test the third or fourth run through.” I think it is great you were able to declutter those supplies and that you are now looking at your scrapbook stash.

  4. Deb J – When I saw your post title, a recent incident came to mind — but it is about the big storage spaces. I have a sofa for sale for $200 and a co-worker really liked it but said she was not able to afford it. She wanted to know why I was selling it so I explained that it belonged to my parents who had downsized. Which then led to a discussion about her storage locker that was “probably too big” and that “most of he stuff was junk, anyway” for which she was paying $118 every month. Hmmm…

    I would say storage is not the solution here!

    • You are so right Vicki K. I have to say I don’t understand having a storage unit like that long term. If you don’t use it, get rid of it. I hope your co-worker decided to get rid of it.

    • Vicki K.,
      I think storage facilities are wonderful if they are used by businesses to house inventory, or temporarily to house belongings an example being our daughter whose university and her dorm were 5,000 miles away. We paid to store her things during the summer months when she returned home from school. Financially, that made more sense than shipping the items to and fro or donating and buying new each school year. For those that use them permanently, I have coined it, “Random crap from here to there”. Moving it never solves the problem.

      • Vicki K, I think what you did for your daughter is one of the proper uses for storage buildings. The phrase you coined is good.

      • Kimberly, that is one of the best uses I have ever heard of! Maybe the best use of the storage units are those that have a planned end date?

      • Sorry, Kimberley, I put Vicki’s name instead of yours on my reply to you.

        • No worries, Deb J. Other than a few Rubbermaid tubs of my daughter’s things, the only things that we store in our garage is our holiday decorations, household tools and garden tools. Both of our cars fit very comfortably in their home, the garage. I have never understood people who have a garage but choose to use them to store useless clutter while leaving their cars out in the driveway exposed to all of the elements.

          • Background: We live in Oklahoma, the land of extreme drought, floods, bitter cold, intense heat, baseball sized hail, and EF-5 tornados. Fortunately, these events don’t happen all at once or even in the same year.
            2010: We had a 3 car garage that would fit only two cars; the other bay was JAM PACKED with boxes, cardboard boxes, full of very valuable junque. I had trouble walking between the boxes just to get to the side door. One evening in April, we had a devastating hail storm that destroyed our roof…. and our two childrens’ cars parked on the driveway. Now, the garage had my car and my wife’s car in it, and, of course, the VERY VALUABLE cardboard boxes full of the Crown Jewels, or something like that. The third bay could have held one of the cars on the driveway, but NO, it contained those boxes. We had to replace both cars for the kids- they were in college at the time. It was not lost on me what was saved and what was not. BTW, I was devastated to learn that SOMEONE had absconded with the VERY VALUABLE items in those boxes and replaced them with JUNKKKKK!
            Since then, my wife and I have moved to a house with a two car garage, and in the process, gotten rid of at least 25% of our belongings. It feels so good!

          • Jeff, what a good illustration of how easy it is to hold onto junk. There is always a cost we just don’t have it made as plain as yours was. Good for you and your wife for getting rid of so much.

          • Jeff – I wasn’t sure whether it was appropriate to be laughing while I read your account (and as owner of several teenager’s cars I can feel your pain) but the Crown Jewels and the mysterious contents swap.

          • Jeff – whoops, accidentally hit ‘post’, I love your humour about the situation.

          • Jeff, I agree with Moni. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when I read your post. You have a great way of putting the “Crown Jewels” storage area aka the three car garage into perspective. Humor helps us heal in more ways than we can imagine. And, you have a great story to tell. Mahalo (thank you) for sharing.

  5. Great post Deb and a great reminder that even if stuff is stored perfectly but never used it needs to go – preferably donated to someone who can use it! I also love Wendy B’s expression -“burial” 🙂

  6. Fabulous post Deb, thank you! It is so easy to get caught up with all the lovely containers and organizing gizmos out there, and all the pictures of pretty closets and pantries with their beautiful matching labeled baskets and boxes! I used to long for that kind of arrangement and would spend too much time browsing around the Container Store and other such places, convinced that I would find the perfect solution and get everything organized. My husband used to laugh at me and say that even if I bought every container we wouldn’t be organized until we got rid of the stuff. Finally I understood what he was saying; I don’t know how he was so patient with me while I got to that point. Now I consider that I am making huge progress when those containers are ending up empty, unused and at last being donated. The same applies to the clothes hangers that I no longer need and the shelves and bookcases that are gradually emptying out.

    I love Wendy B’s “burial ground” expression too, that is one for the memorable decluttering quotes!

  7. Personally, I believe that all of the “organizational stores” that have appeared over the past two decades encourage people to not only hold on to existing clutter, but purchase even more. If you get rid of all of the clutter first, then and only then, you can assess what your storage needs really are. In most cases, you will find that you have everything you need already at home in drawers, closets, pretty little boxes, baskets, tins etc.
    As Colleen and Deb J. both have suggested, when you clear the things that no longer serve you, get rid of the storage item as well. I did that last week when my daughter told me that I could let a Rubbermaid bin full of her old books go. The books were donated in the Rubbermaid bin they were stored in. Win-Win!

    • This is so true. When I have decluttered containers they usually go filled with stuff. When I have donated things in a box and kept the container i have eventually filled up again!

      • Jean, I agree, it is so true. It’s like the empty drawer, box, basket, container takes possession over our common sense, and before long it is filled to the brim again.

    • Kimberley, your statement, “If you get rid of all of the clutter first, then and only then, you can assess what your storage needs really are.” is so true. I also agree that “organizational stores” promote the WANT for things we don’t NEED.

  8. Deb J, this was a great article. I have a book where I write down wonderful simplicity quotes. I had just added one from THE MINIMALISTS blog a couple of days ago……………….it said:

    “Organizing is nothing more than well planned hoarding.”

    Of course, I DO love to organize what is left that is needed. But, if it becomes that burial ground that Wendy mentioned, I suppose it could definitely be hoarding. I wrote the quote down to remind myself not to be organizing things I wasn’t going to use!!!

    I am enjoying all the comments as always!!,

  9. Excellent post Deb J. Storage certainly doesn’t stop clutter and everyone’s comment are spot on.

  10. I totally agree, Deb J. Clutter doesn’t need pretty containers or packaging or clever hiding places … it just needs to go. Neatly organizing useless stuff doesn’t bestow magical powers that somehow make the stuff useful. No point hiding a mess in style. Having said that, however, I think that if someone had to live with someone else’s clutter, cramming that clutter into an organizing system might be the only recourse for sanity.

    I think that organizing excess of anything is, very often, the evil twin of clutter.

    • Magical powers Nicole V! That is just too funny! A few times in the past I have been so excited to open a box I had forgotten about to find …. junk. That’s all it ever was. No magic, even if it was dressed in a pretty oversized hatbox.

      • Hi, Jean. I think that the real magic happens once we declutter and have a mindset change and resolve not to re-clutter.

    • Nicole V, I love this. “Neatly organizing useless stuff doesn’t bestow magical powers that somehow make the stuff useful. No point hiding a mess in style. Having said that, however, I think that if someone had to live with someone else’s clutter, cramming that clutter into an organizing system might be the only recourse for sanity. I think that organizing excess of anything is, very often, the evil twin of clutter.”

  11. What a great post, Deb J! And all the comments really add to it. Burial ground…….that’s so perfect a description, Wendy B!

    I love containers. I’m partial to clear plastic containers and Rubbermaid Roughneck containers (I have yet to destroy one of those.) But I do NOT store clutter or junk.

    I currently have a lot of spare storage containers, big and small. I admitted that in a previous comment. I used most of them when we lived on our sailboat (most of our belongings were in a storage unit). Now that we live in a house, I let too much junk pile up…..hence, why I’m 365-ing this year. I’m slowly getting rid of the containers as I 365 and figure out what’s left over.

    I really do like to container-ize things. It helps with moving, which we do a lot. It helps keep like things together. It helps keep things from growing out of control. I make sure that my containers have one purpose…..a kit, or module, if you will. But it is a must to declutter first and furious before putting anything in a container. My goal is always to declutter first and then use the smallest container possible.

    So for now, I am holding on to some containers as I 365 my life, but I’m letting go of some as well. I recently worked on 365-ing my back room which I use to store my preps. Yes, I am a minimalist prepper, which will definitely keep you up at night trying to figure that one out. 🙂 Anyway, I had extra batteries stored in different locations, and I was able to make a fabulous battery kit out of one of those divided fishing-type flat containers that I had on hand. But I’m realizing that I’m just not going to need the bigger containers anymore. Woohoo!

    Okay, sorry for rambling. Back to purging my files. I don’t have that many, but I’ve pulled a few papers out to be shredded. And the others got a nice new file folder and label. I think I’ll go look at my new battery box first……:)

    • To clarify:

      I do not store clutter or junk in my precious containers. But I have plenty of clutter and junk to get rid of elsewhere (although it’s getting pretty sparse around here!)

      At some point I’m going to have to admit that my biggest clutter & junk pile is my container stash! Oh, the irony. 🙂

    • Melanie, I understand how containers can have good uses. I actually use one or two myself. I can’t wait until I can get rid of them though.

  12. I think Wendy has coined two excellent terms today – ‘Active Storage’ and ‘Buried’ – yes there is a marked difference between the two. I ended up with a stack of storage bins left over as the contents were decluttered but I am slowly getting rid of them.

    Ah yes the magic of a storage solution catalogue! All these clever ways to make your house beautiful and well resourced. But the sad truth is that you just end up constantly organising clutter, rather than enjoying an organised life.

  13. Organisation does not benefit anyone else.
    I am reading Joshua Beckers ‘Clutter Free With Kids’ – I am paraphrasing more lengthy paragraphs on each topic but I think this ties in beautifully with the topic.

    Organisation does not turn back our desire for more.
    Organisation does not force us to evaluate our lives.
    Organisation does not solve our financial problems.
    Organisation, in and of itself, never addresses the underlying issue that we buy too much stuff.
    Organisation accomplishes little in paving the way for other changes.
    Organising may provide a temporary lift to our attitude. It clears a room and subsequently clears our mind, but it rarely paves the way for healthy, major lifestyle changes.

  14. Hi! I am saying this as an outsider to the scrapbooking craze so I hope no one takes offense. Please bear with the length of this post.

    I knit. I buy yarn when it is on sale, sometimes with projects in mind, or sometimes because I spot a great deal on good-quality yarn that I will use in the reasonably short-term future. I have a well-organized yarn stash, so that I can reach into it when inspiration strikes. I am a knitter who is more often inspired by creativity rather than being specifically project-oriented, to wit, “I need a blue sweater so I will go out and buy exactly enough yarn for a blue sweater and no more, and then I will buy exactly enough yarn for my next project.” With me it is more like, “I feel like knitting some Christmas gifts, so let’s see what I have … and what’s something interesting I can make?” Or, “I just got invited to a baby shower, so I will look in my stash and whip up a quick cap and booties.” Knowing that I already have a selection of good yarn at hand that I usually bought on sale and WILL use saves me money, and saves me a trip to the yarn store each time the creative urge strikes. I keep my supplies well organized and have a firm limit on how much space my supplies can occupy. Likewise, I sew, and have many friends who sew and make their own clothes. This, too, can lead to clutter if illl-managed — any hobby can — but people have been sewing and knitting since the dawn of civilization.

    Now, to the topic of scrapbooking. I also have scrapbooks and photo albums, but I feel no need to decorate or embellish them. Clearly, the children in the picture are catching fish or playing soccer, so I feel no need to embellish those pages with stickers of soccer balls or fish. Likewise, my old concert ticket stubs in my college-years scrapbook do not need guitar-themed background pages or musical-note-stickers. It is obvious that they are concert tickets, and my memories of those events will not be changed by decorative embellishment on the page. I understand that many people do enjoy scrapbooking and feel compelled not only to have simple photo albums and scrapbooks, but to embellish each page. But decorative scrapbooking is a new fad. So I am often very curious about the point in life when scrapbookers first felt compelled to embellish their photos and mementos, beyond a few personal doodles made with a packet of markers. Did you start drawing on, and embellishing, your scrapbooks and photo albums spontaneously before there was a scrapbooking industry? Quite possibly. But did you march into craft shops en masse demanding the production of endless scrapbook embellishments? Of course you didn’t. You walked into a store one day, saw scrapbook supplies and rubber stamps, and said, “how cute, now I can embellish my scrapbooks!” And there is NOTHING wrong with that. But my point is, you did not sit down at your grandmother’s knee and learn to scrapbook, did you?

    And here is my point: I think the scrapbook industry was deliberately created by the craft industry as an impulse-purchase-driven hobby, to prey on the average woman’s cultural expectation to be “perfect,” and, more importantly, to get us to part with a great deal of money, to put another burden of “good mommy points” on us, another task in the burden of being “superwoman.” Supplied in the last century with so-called time-saving devices like washing machines and vacuums, instead of being rewarded with actual leisure time, our culturally imposed burden of perfection increased. As our grinding daily chores of cooking and scrubbing were eased, the expectation of a constantly redecorated home and even embellished photo albums and scrapbooks became an expectation, rather than an exception. Now, we are expected to work full-time, come back home to our second full-time job of parenting and housekeeping, and in any spare moments we have after that, we are expected to embellish and decorate everything in our homes. Kind of mind-boggling when you consider it, isn’t it?

    Half a century ago, knitting, sewing, gardening, sketching and and painting were common hobbies. Scrapbooking was not a pastime in our grandmother’s time, or even when I was a child. In the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, and earlier, photo albums and scrapbooks were offered in stores with plain covers, and perhaps a masculine or feminine cover design, but plain white pages or a simple page border otherwise. One might also see a few with a theme like “Our Wedding,” a baby theme, or “High School Memories.” But in any stationery shop, the selection of scrapbooks would be limited to a small selection of themes. The idea was simply to fill them. I remember filling my plain blue grade-school scrapbook, and purchasing one with a sunset on the cover for high school. The pages are filled with pictures and clippings, with the occasional heading done in marker or art pencils: “Senior Prom,” etc.

    I believe that the new hobby of scrapbooking was an industry invention in the past few decades to create another decorative expectation of women and to separate us from our money. Likewise with rubber-stamping and creating giftwrap instead of just buying it. These are new, higher bars for women to jump in the quest for Supermom, brand-new timesucks created by the likes of Martha Stewart to ensure a steady income for THEM. Mrs A has a fancily decorated scrapbook, so Mrs. B feels pressured to be “creative” and decorate family photos instead of simply storing them in an accessible manner, and so forth.

    I have also noticed that among my friends who scrapbook, keeping order is almost impossible with the expectation of having embellishments and specialized pages for EVERYTHING. I think it is much easier for a sewing hobbyist to organize fabric, thread and notions, and much easier for a knitter to sort yarns by type and/or color and to buy a needle and notions organizer. Most sewing rooms I’ve been in are in relatively good order. Painter’s studios tend to be somewhat untidy. But scrapbooking fills up bin after bin, box after box, organizer after organizer, bag after bag. I know exactly ONE scrapbooker who has an organized hobby room, and her supplies are limited to folders with themed stickers in a few file boxes, a bin of different sorts of paper, a small worktable with a good light, and scissors, glue, etc. Every other scrapbooker I know has a hobby room that looks like a paper explosion.

    I know many people enjoy it, but the truth is, scrapbooking can become an enormous money pit, cluttermaker and space-gobbler. I think we should all be cautious of brand-new, previously non-existent, industry created hobbies. There is no guilt in simply filing away photos in an orderly manner in photo albums, or simply pasting a school memento onto a plain white page and marking the date and event with a simple pen. The urge to decorate an extra- special album — a new baby or a wedding — becomes a compulsion to embellish everything, every school event, and suddenly we find ourselves from going from embellishing a special-event album to feeling guilty if we do not embellish EVERY photo ever taken.

    In short, I think the scrapbooking industry is made far happier (at least in their wallets) by the hobby of scrapbooking than the people who feel pressured to buy stickers, special paper and embellishments to cover every conceivable family event, holiday, season, vacation, etc. Endless embellishment is not a pressure we need to put upon ourselves, and the clutter created is not a happiness-maker We women have enough to do already. Perhaps, upon seeing something “new” at the craft shop, we should ask ourselves: is this a newly invented timesuck and money pit?

    My rule of thumb is, if a hobby isn’t something one could have learned at one’s grandmother or grandfather’s side (sewing, woodworking, weaving, leathercraft), to be highly suspicious of it; “new” hobbies are simply a corporate attempt to create yet another way to get people to part with their money, time and storage space.

    • Hi Dez, I agree 100%. I have one box of scrapbooking supplies, a box I have not added to in a couple of years and is very manegeable. I used to draw and paint a lot and loved to write but with the demands of family life I find that I cannot get into the “zone” to focus enough to do those things anymore. I had thought maybe scrapbooking would be a good replacement as a creative outlet but it just turned into a box that sits here. I think scrapbooking is wonderful for those who do it but honestly that is not me. You are right that clean albums are much better than overly cluttered layouts. I have boys and my embellishments are girly and I am not girly! I talked with my six year old yesterday and we agreed to use all of the neutral and boy paper for art projects.
      My sister loves to scrapbook and sells her creations. So she gets that satisfaction of the creation and then sells it to other women who appreciate the product and skip the creative process.
      Just as a side note, I didn’t really learn a lot of useful skills from my mother or grandmother. More like unhealthy habits. All of the worthwhile things I have learned I did through a concerted effort to simply want to better myself or nurture a discovered talent. My husband learned his mechanical expertise on his own in his mid teens without his father, who has a masters in teaching and can probably operate a screwdriver if he had to. So I think you can learn worthwhile things without a family history of that or even family support. I don’t think that’s what you were saying I just wanted to point that out.
      You are SO right about that crafting room craze and Martha and the hurtles we are told jump to be the perfect woman. I always think of the Stepford wives when others point out the ever increasing and strange standards that are raised for women that have no basis in reality. That could go for men too with a vast and perfectly organized workshop.

    • Hi Dez,

      I totally get your point about women expecting so much of themselves… makes me tired just thinking about it, even though I personally don’t do all that stuff… I am very particular about taking on any hobbies just for that reason. I am a wife and mother and now grandmother also… I can truly say that I have cooked fewer than 100 meals in 33 years of marriage LOL… And my husband is good about wearing things more than once to save on laundry… He also does the vacuuming… BUT it still makes me tired thinking about the added stress of trying to keep up with hobbies! I really want to get a dog but want to do it when I can attend to said dog without feeling like it’s just another chore… maybe when I retire? And I want to do more gardening but I have a very physical job, so have had to curtail my activities there… So much to do and only so much energy to do it with 😉

    • Hi Dez,
      Thanks for the insightful analysis of the scrapbooking industry – you are absolutely right. Unfortunately, the older I get, the more cynical I become & I feel this way about pretty much ALL forms of consumerism: if an industry (beauty, fashion, shoes, homewares, superfoods etc) pushes products at you, whether the message is, ‘this will make your life better’ or ‘this will solve your current dilemma’, you have got to ask yourself, ‘but at what cost?’ Often, it is not just a cost to you in financial terms, but also as a time-sink, diverting attention & energy away from what is actually important in life (although we do sometimes need distractions), and most importantly can have negative impacts on your health. If something looks, smells & sounds faddish, then the claimed benefits are almost always suspect…

    • Right on, Dez! The thing that turned me off about scrapbooking was the special size of the papers and the albums. Now that’s a money-grab if there ever was one. I’ve always been a paper crafter so I have bought a few special papers, a couple of punches and stamps but have no desire to get caught up in the rest of it. Still, among the fad crafty things I have dealt with, or am dealing with, are shrink plastic (remember that?), polymer clay, dies for marbelling paper or fabric, and stained glass. All really cool ideas in their time, but a time that has passed. Meanwhile, I’ve gone back to sewing, started learning to crochet and would like to take up wood-carving, all time-tested crafts that provide pleasure without great outlay for specialized gear.

  15. Dez, welcome to commenting at 365 Less Things. I think that in many ways scrapbooking can be seen as a money pit and corporate grab for our money but I also feel that many times it is a way to express our love for our family. Unfortunately, the scrapbook industry has made scrapbookers feel the need to srapbook everything. Like with all hobbies, a scrapbooker needs to learn how to be smart in how they practice their hobby.

    • I just had to comment here Deb J that you are right that scrapbookers need to be smart about their projects and purchases. Sort of like, knowing their own “style”. I did a Google search this last weekend on giving up scrapbooking and ended up on a scrapbooking forum where scrappers were discussing if they would ever give it up. Some of the women pointed out that they scaled back when they began to see that their supplies were becoming a “problem time wise or storage wise. I think I am so glad I never pursued the hobby at that level.

      • Jean, at one point I did pursue scrapbooking at that level and how I wish now that I hadn’t. I know I have given away and sold for pennies on the dollar hundreds of dollars worth of scrapbook supplies and tools.

    • Excellent post Deb J! Smart is definitely the only way to approach scrapbooking/all other hobbies. Personally, I love being able to create a beautiful, personalised album for someone special BUT I only do this very rarely. It is one of the few truly creative tasks I indulge in. However, I have always made a rule NOT to incur additional costs during its production: other than paying for the photos to be printed, the album itself & double-sided sellotape/photo corners, I never buy scrapbook supplies, as such. I always re-use good quality wrapping paper/ribbons/cards etc – anything that can be salvaged, trimmed & re-used – and on the rare occasion when I did not have ribbons of a suitable colour, I make a trip (on foot) to my local market to buy the length required at the haberdashery. I’ve deliberately severely limited my ‘Art box’ to a very small cardboard box, which itself is re-used packaging. This way, I can be creative, frugal & a bit kinder to the environment without cluttering up my home!
      Back to the main topic: I think it is not just obvious storage ‘solutions’ (shelving, pretty storage box sets etc) that are a distraction, but everyday furniture can behave in this way too. I have certainly been guilty in the past of having too much furniture in rooms, which inevitably offer spaces for clutter to congregate or hide. Once you get rid of all that excess furniture, the clutter too becomes more manageable – and then out it goes!

    • Seb J- I made a conscious decision not to get into scrap booking, because I know for me, that way would lie madness. My brain would go into obsessive mode and I could foresee that I would be a likely candidate for Scrapaholics Anonymous. I knew I had enough of a situation with my book collection without adding something new into the mix.
      It would be interesting to know if anyone has done research on what part of the brain lights up in these situations and the scientific take on the information.

      I think many woman have a desire to do something creative, which is a nice and good thing, but we’ve all been clutterers, which is how we ended up here at 365 Less Things, so it isn’t just scrap booking that’s the problem. But I do admit that it is the perfect honey trap.

      • Moni, I know what you mean. It is easy to become pulled into a craft and end up going way overboard. I agree it would be interesting to see research.

      • You are so right Moni and so smart! For me it is just a paper obsession in general I am rehabbing from. Any paper, scrapbook paper, magazine clippings, archival paper, wrapping paper, too many note books, way too much art work. Like I was working on making a museum about myself. When I tell people I have downsized my stuff by 90% I serious. And 80% of that was paper. I think a lot of us creative types have too many ideas and there’s just not enough time in a day, week, month, years etc to do it all in. Especially if there’s that perfectionist bend present, often leading to a sort of stalemate. It’s great to recognize it and change it like we all have but it’s better not to get into it in the first place!

        • Jean, I so understand that paper obsession. I use to love to go to stores to buy stationery, note pads, etc. I always had a stash and then would take years to use it. Now I make myself not buy until I need something. I’m even getting down to that with scrapbook paper.

          • It is stupidly difficult, isn’t it? Especially the stationary! I have two notebooks now and a note pad for grocery list, bill reminders and so on. Cards are so fun to make, so that is a great use for your stuff. Yeah there is just something about pretty paper, even ugly paper…Thank goodness it wasn’t a drug addiction!

          • Yes, Jean, it is. A money pit for me.

  16. I did scrapbooking for a while and have 11 albums to show for it (which are practically never looked at). These only covered a few years! I have a cardboard box of photos, somewhat sorted into years, which has been making me feel guilty, ridiculous I know. These would be enough for another 20 albums! I also have the last ten years of digital photos – where does it ever end?! I have given away masses of pics to family and friends.

    The digital photos actually get seen more than the paper ones: I Facebook a few as I go and have a slideshow going on the computer as the background when we turn on. And I am brutal with deleting!

    I have a vague notion of getting one archival photo box, and putting a select few in there. It’s all so overwhelming! And I don’t take that many photos.

    I gave away my scrapbooking supplies ages ago, all I kept were two paper punches which are useful.

    Time to dig in the photo box again I think, not fair for my descendants to have to do it one day!

    • Janetta, I have a friend who has about 20 albums and enough photos for 40 more. She doesn’t know when to stop taking photos. She takes too many at an event. Every year she takes pictures of the family doing the same things they do every year like hiking, church services, parties, etc. She will never get all that stuff done and someone else will have to clean it up when she is gone.

  17. Hi Deb J,

    You got us all going with this storage topic! I used to be out looking for storage bins all the time, to organize all our stuff… All my ideas back then were the polar opposite of how I feel now! Due in large part to reading this blog, I have changed my ideas about stuff (clutter) and finances and organization, etc. I ask more and different questions of myself when I am out shopping (which happens as seldom as possible!). I am more careful about what I gift, what I buy for the house, etc. I used to pick up “neat looking gadgets” that looked useful without thinking whether anyone needed them. Now I need to have at least 2 good reasons to bring a “thing” into the house. So I am saving lots of money which helps us pay down debt and saving lots of time (less shopping) and some storage units have become redundant. I don’t feel that I have any “rats nest” areas in the house… just some layers to peel as I feel able to part with things… I go through things more regularly now – since there are fewer things to go through, it is less work now… Going through my things helps me stay aware of what I have, which helps me avoid purchasing duplicates. You and Colleen and all the other posters and commenters are helping me so much! Thanks for the great topic 🙂

    • Hi Peggy, thanks for saying you have received so much help from Colleen and the rest of us. It looks like you are doing a great job of it and we are all happy we could help you succeed at decluttering.

  18. Hi Dez, thanks so much for sharing! I totally agree. I have been working on 3 scrap book albums that I started 10 years ago. It has taken me the last year and a half, I am almost done. I want to throw a party and celebrate. It isn’t even fun for me anymore, I just want to get the pictures in the albums so they will be out of boxes and in date order. This is the end of scrap booking for me. I am getting rid of my supplies when I am done. Going forward I am buying the plain albums that you can just slip the photos in. So excited to get this photo clutter under control. I am feeling lighter already! Thanks for all the great advice from this site. I love it and have made so much progress in the past 2 years. Cheers, Susie

  19. This is a great topic. Although storage is not a solution I see it as a stepping stone. First I took all my clutter and sorted through it and throw out and tidy/store it neatly. At a later date I have gone back and looked through each box, draw etc and again thrown out and tidied. I will probably be doing many times. I know that in the end I will be able to get to a stage that what I have will be what I love and value most, which is what it’s all about.

  20. Storage container update (from the container hoarder):

    I’m making progress. I have gotten rid of about 20 containers so far. Big ones, too. These are the ones that I always think will be so useful when we move. But I don’t know when or where that will be, so I’ve decided to let them go. My life is here and now, and I don’t want it cluttered with the future.

    The smaller ones are harder, because I do “shop” my stash when I need a container, like when I made my battery kit the other week. Or when I used a tiny fishing tackle container for our spare keys a few weeks ago (because I refuse to have a junk drawer.) But I realized: Here I am so proud of not having a junk drawer; meanwhile I have half a room full of containers. Like I previously said, Oh, the irony.

    I was reading some old comments, and it seems like a lot of you have gone through this with books and craft supplies. The one-at-a-time approach that some of you talked about sounds like a good one. I’m going to do that with the rest of my containers. As I continue to 365 the house, there’s not a whole lot left to organize, so I don’t think I’ll be “shopping” in that room very much.


    • Melanie – 20 big containers, well done you! I agree that the smaller ones are more difficult. The trap I fall into is that I always went for stackable ones of assorted sizes/types. But I think to myself that it would be better if I were to donate them as a set (I’m thinking the local goodwill store, they use them for sorting and storing out of season clothing and excess stock) so I hold off till a few more storage bins are available. But if I used Kimberley’s idea of donating the bins with stuff in them then eventually they’ll end up with the set any way.

      I used to have a similar problem with cardboard boxes (they are useful Etc) and I also have a ‘thing’ for ‘sets’, so storage bins have been a sticking point for me.

      • Moni – Thank you for the nice words! I agree with you and Kimberley that the next time I empty out a container, out it goes right away so I don’t get attached to it. I’ve already let go of three small ones that I realized have been empty for over two years. If I haven’t used them by now, I’m not going to.

        All the comments and similar stories are so encouraging. Once I start something, I’m usually “all in,” so there’s a good chance I won’t have many containers left by the end of the month.

      • Moni, for a long time our problem was the stackables and cardboard boxes too. We are now collecting boxes again because we know we will be moving. We are trying to get ones we know will work for the things we need to move and nothing else. I’m really being careful. I don’t want that mess again.

    • You are an inspiration, Melanie. I think you not having a junk drawer is great even if there is half a room full of containers.
      I have also felt very inspired by the post and have been going through my scrapbook stuff and tossing things that hadn’t seen the light of day in a while. Containerizing clutter really isn’t the solution. I used to have a whole room in my home devoted to my papers and even if it’s just one scrapbook box and one art box now (or half of each of those as of today) it’s still nice to slowly weed out the extraneous and keep the stuff I will really make use of. And yeah, it doesn’t happen over night.

      • Jean – Thank you for the nice words. I, too, get inspiration from all the comments here. I was reading old comments and noticed that most of you have been here a long time. Thanks for letting me just join in without even introducing myself. I just got so excited when I found this blog and like-minded people. I like some of the other blogs that are about decorating and organizing, but OMG, the stuff!

        Congratulations from getting down to two half boxes from a whole room! That is amazing progress. I’m impressed by you crafters and scrapbookers. I wouldn’t have a clue what to do with all that pretty stuff. Except put it in my containers, of course. 🙂

      • Jean and Melanie, it didn’t take overnight for me to declutter all of the scrapbook stuff I had either. It took a long time to justify to myself (and even more to my mom) the decluttering of all that stuff I spent money for. Now I am looking at getting rid of more. I no longer scrapbook and I am even getting tired of making cards. I plan to get rid of all but just enough to make a few cards for those who really enjoy them.

    • Hi, Melanie. I just had to chime in on the junk drawer. I’ve seen junk drawer starter kits on Ebay and Pinterest. Yeah, go figure. 🙂

      I have a drawer in my kitchen, with various useful items that are used regularly. I refer to it as my organized, useful (not junk) drawer … don’t you just love semantics? 🙂

      • Nicole V, we have one of those drawers. It has dividers and it has a few extra batteries, some tools, etc. We have decluttered all of that stuff that was junk and now we keep only those things we actually use. I was so glad to get rid of that junk drawer.

        • Nicole V and Deb J,

          Junk drawer starter kits??? This I’ve got to see. I’m sure both of your utility drawers are fabulous! One of my favorite things to watch on YouTube is people organizing their junk drawers. I get a kick out of it. I don’t keep one because my husband would get into it and mess it up. LOL.

          Thanks for the nice comments. I’ve already gotten rid of 7 or 8 of the small containers. I’m on a roll!

        • Hi, Deb J. The junk drawer is a good baby step for a decluttering newbie. Getting that small space under control can boost confidence and provide motivation to tackle larger areas. I’m quite curious about the strangest item that anyone has decluttered from their junk drawer.

    • Wow Melanie, 20 containers gone is great. It looks like you are finally getting a handle on how best to declutter your stash. Good for you.

  21. This is sooooooooooooo true Deb you hit the nail on the head. I came to the same conclusion late last year. I now try to make cards etc out of what I already have and have been very pleased with the result.
    Also by doing this we are using more of our creative side as we have to only use what we have.

  22. Storage within storage within storage… Back in the day of film, my ex-husband and I took tons of slides on our travels. We purchased many slide trays for our projector so the slides could be stored ready to show. Thus we had slides stored in trays, each tray stored in its own box and about six slide tray boxes stored in each large cardboard box. When we divorced I had about 6 large boxes plus the projector. Over the years I have whittled it down to two big boxes INCLUDING the projector. Yesterday I borrowed a slide converter and have had a heyday with it. I’m scanning everything because it is so much easier to arrange, compare and delete on the computer. I expect that by the end of the week I will have those two large cardboard boxes pared down to about a dozen slides I will keep and a LOT of stuff going into the recycling. I’m not one to readily embrace technoligy but this is brillian!

    • Wendy B, that’s a great idea. My dad was a picture taker. Unfortunately, he kept the good and the bad. When he died in 1993 there were 12 of the round carousels of 100 slides plus enough slides for 12-14 more carousels. I wish I had been able to do what you are doing. I had to do them all by hand. Took forever. Got rid of most of them.

      • Yup, ours were carosels too. Take up a lot of room, don’t they! My original plan was to have them converted to VHS but it was such an undertaking – and such an expense – that I procrastinated long enough to skip that step.

        Ian has made a few mumbles about getting rid of his photos, negatives and slides that are in ‘dead storage’ in the basement. This might spur him to scan and save but more likely he’ll finally toss ’em all. Yay!

        • Wendy,

          Don’t you just love it when procrastination pays off? Way to go on getting those slides and photos under control. I think photos are one of the hardest things to manage. In any form.

          Miss the weekly missions this week! I hope Colleen is okay.

          Storage container update: They’re almost all gone. I haven’t completely given up the fight, but I’ve made amazing progress. I realized that the containers had become a source of stress and anxiety (like all clutter), and it’s getting easier to get rid of them. Agonizing over a plastic object is stupid. They’ll be gone by the end of the month.

          Good luck, everyone, with whatever you are dealing with. If I can get rid of this container hoard, you can get rid of whatever your hoard is! 🙂

          • Melanie, it is great that most of the containers are gone. Doesn’t that make you feel a lot better? I know it would me. My office/craft area has been a mess for way too long while dealing with all the stuff our of the car while it was being repaired and other reasons for using it as a dumping ground. Now it is almost clear again and I feel like a bird let out of a cage. I just can’t stand the mess.

        • Yes, the carousels do take up a lot more room. I hope Ian does decide to just declutter all of his stuff.

          When I went through the slides Dad left there were so many that we either didn’t know the story behind or that were of things/people we had no interest in. I filled one carousel with pictures of events at church and gave them to the church historian. Then I gave another to a member of the family. When i went through the printed pictures (a big box full) I gave a buch of them to family or friends. Many we just threw away. It was so nice to have that all done.