The clutter cause by unfinished tasks

I mostly talk about clutter in the form of items that are unused and unloved that could be permanently removed from our homes.  However the detritus of unfinished tasks also mounds up over a very short period of time when a short attention span, lack of planning or sheer laziness has us making a half hearted effort.

Below are some reasons why this sort of clutter accumulates and the possible consequences…

  • Mail is opened but not attended too. ~ At the very least there should be a designated place for mail to be filed when needing later attention. Not doing this can end up in late fees for unpaid bills. Any mail that is just plain junk deposit it straight in the recycling bin. Do what you can to digitise bills and cease junk mail to make this task easier in the future.
  • Dishes unwashed or washed but not put away. ~ This makes a kitchen look dirty, untidy and ,in the case of small kitchens, far less functional. Then there is the time wasted looking for, and possibly having to clean on the run, items you need for the task at hand. And also there is the possibility of attracting germ carrying bugs.
  • Getting dressed but leaving discarded clothes left lying on the floor. ~ This is bad enough when the clothes are dirty and simply need the little effort it takes to put them in the dirty clothes basket. But should they be clean, nicely ironed clothes that have been tossed aside in an attempt to find just the right outfit for the occasion then you have not only left a mess but you have wasted all the time and effort that you used to launder these items in the first place. Once they are crinkled in a pile with all the other dirty discarded clothes then they are no longer clean and wearable.
  • Performing ablutions and then leaving your toiletries everywhere. ~ Toothpaste and brush left open or not rinsed on the sink,  make-up everywhere on the vanity, shampoo in the floor of the shower with lids off…  What and eyesore and a mess for the next unfortunate bather to have to deal with.
  • Mending started but not completed. ~ Now not only the item that requires mending is hanging around out of place but also the equipment needed is out of place with it.
  • Random items used and left discarded all over the house. ~ Right now as I look to my right I can see on my living room side table a hair comb, a used and empty coffee cup, a bottle of nasal spray and a used tissue. That last items is particularly gross. Everyone of those items has a place and none of them are in it. The cup belongs in the dishwasher, the comb in the bathroom cabinet drawer, along with the nasal spray and the tissue in the bin. I have been past the kitchen several times since I finished the coffee, the bin also resides in the kitchen and I have also gone upstairs and into my bathroom more than once. I could easily have taken care of all of these items during anyone of those trips without it taking me but a few extra seconds. Ignore enough things during the day and ones house can become an awful mess. Especially if neglected in this way for days on end.

If you are guilty of any of these clutter producing habits why not try to change your ways. With a little extra attention to detail and putting in place new strategies I am sure you can turn things around. Maybe you will save yourself some time, stress or even money in the long run.

Today’s Mini Mission

Décor items can certainly warm up a room and make it feel homely but too many can have a detrimental effect. They can clutter the space, make it appear untidy and harbour dust mite among other things. Declutter one or two dust collecting décor items this week. Scatter cushions, rugs, throw rugs, wall hangings, drapes…

Eco Tip for the Day

Don’t leave tasks linger for so long that you have to redo them such as drying the washing or folding it. This can cause you to have to waste more electricity rewashing and ironing. Need I also mention your wasted time and wear and tear on your appliances.

For a full list of my eco tips so far click here

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow


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About Colleen Madsen

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

Comments

  1. Hey there,

    I’m good with mail – rabid recycler! Good with clothes – the only sloppy area is where I lay my jammies at the foot of the bed. When I know people are coming over, I shove them under my pillow. Toiletries – when a bathroom is as small as our is, everything simply must be in its place. I have become pretty ruthless with mending. Either I am up to the task (skill-wise) or not. If not, out it goes. My worse random items are tubes of hand lotion. Got to have a tube in every room. I guess I am too lazy to get up and go get it when I need it. LOL

    Dishes: Ugh. I had to pull all of the glasses out of the cupboard due to the nailing on the other side of the wall for the laundry remodel. They just sit there on the counter. Staring at me. Glasses galore. Sitting. Cannot WAIT to be able to put them back in their home! 🙂 I long to see a clean counter again. I think they are supposed to be done by next Tuesday or so, and then I get to paint. At least, I think that is the schedule. Construction always seems to take longer than you expect it.

    • Hi Michelle, from your comment I would say that you and I are alike on this subject. I understand about the hand lotion, I used to do this myself. Now I figure that all the slapping on lotion doesn’t fix the problem it just covers it up so I don’t bother for the most part. My skin is getting old and dry and that is my reality. I think I could make a little more effort though once in a while.

      Sorry to hear about your disrupted kitchen. It reminds me of when we moved into this home and everything wouldn’t fit. It took a while to find the top of the dining table again. How things change, now I have empty shelves in the cupboards.

      • Ideealistin :

        Hi Colleen,
        my dermatologist advised me to put lotion on my hands every time after washing my hands.(they get severely dry, so dry the skin sometimes cracks and bleeds if I slack with the lotion) I have to confess that I don’t do that but it makes the sink the perfect spot for placing that lotion so I get reminded by seeing it. I love having one more on my nightstand though and carry a tiny container in my purse that I refill from the regular one.

  2. Oy! This pretty accurately describes my entire life. I fear I’m an avoider – especially when it comes to anything that involves a decision. Unfortunately it’s one of those “gotta pay the piper” scenarios – you can deal with it now, or you can deal with it later, but eventually, you just have to deal with it!

    • Hi EcoCatLady, you are correct only sometimes later is harsher so best to just get on with it. On Friday I am linking to a post from Becoming Minimalist about never leaving a space without making an improvement in it (or something to that effect). His message is two fold but it can certainly be applied to picking up after oneself. Instead of walking out of a room empty handed take something with you and put it back where it belongs.

  3. I have decided that my desk is the one place that often has clutter. It is where everything lands that has to be dealt with. Right now I have a package that needs to go to the Post Office, some birthday cards all ready to be put in the mail on the appropriate day, a small box holding some items I’m still trying to find info on before selling, and my breakfast dish because I have been eating breakfast while reading all the comments and the new post here. One reason I get a bit of clutter here is that I try to not make numerous trips with the car. So instead of taking things places when they are ready I try to combine trips. Thus the package waiting until I have to do other things in the direction of the post office. I would prefer to have a place to hide things like this–but then I might forget them. I’m working on this one.

    • I am also guilty of forgetting stuff. There is a bag with some shoes to take to repair and they been lying in my garage for some days. Oh Colleen and I know you and some our friends here are going to ask me: “Do you really need those shoes? You keep forgetting them…” 😀 Not really sure about need, but I have some shoes are on trial and as soon as I fix these ones I will decide about the others. 😉

      • Ideealistin :

        Have that bag with a pair of shoes, too! I guess I keep forgetting it because it is not super urgent. But it is winter boots that have taken a beating this winter and that I want to get in shape for the next season so I can store them away. So the world doesn’t come to an end because of this – but it still sits in my back. I REALLY want to get into the habit to not have so many to-dos linger. I wonder if my procrastination will get better once the household/stuff gets into maintenance mode. It’s too easy to “wander off” if the to-do-list is ubervoll.

    • Hi Deb J
      Could you place a box or bag in the boot of your car to put your packages, etc in. That way they will be out of your home but ready to go when you use your car next.

      Hi Colleen, this is the first time I have commented. Have been following your blog for a couple of months now. Your and your wonderful community have been an absolute inspiration to me. My big light bulb moment was realizing that having stuff neatly organised in containers was not the same as decluttering. With your help I have managed to get rid of stuff I never thought I would be able to. Still have a long way to go but feel I’m now on the right path. I was thrilled to see in your profile that you are a fellow Novocastrian. I feel so lucky to live in this part of the world.

      • Leah – I think most of us here fell into the same trap and lets face it there is an entire industry based on providing clever ways and all sorts of size containers to hold stuff and a billion dollar industry of storing yet more stuff in off site storage lots. I’ve been decluttering for 2-3 years now and am still amazed that I still find stuff – but I have an impressive stack of empty plastic storage bins left over. We have a few house shifts coming up in the next year so they’ll be used for packing, and as there is a major declutter underway at my work place, they’ll be used there too for sorting etc.

      • Hi Leah and welcome to 365 Less Things. You are so right. I was always very organised but I certainly wasn’t decluttered. I could not count the number of storage containers that have left my house over the last three years. At first I was reluctant to get rid of them. Not because I thought I might fall off the decluttered wagon but because I had found them so useful in the past. I am more of a sucker for useful items than sentimental ones. Now I let them go without a second thought because I know I have absolutely no use for them and never will again.

        Thank you for letting me know you have been out there and benefiting from what I write here at the blog and from all that my wonderful readers have to contribute. It really is the combined wisdom that makes the blog useful to others. I hope you will continue to add to that wisdom with regular contributions of your own.

      • HI Leah. I’m afraid that a box in the boot would not help. I would forget it. If I don’t put things right in sight and close to my car keys I will forget them. My memory is getting worse all the time when it comes to things like this.

    • Deb J, that just sounds like good organisation to me. Keep it up. You are saving time and fuel. We all need a launching point within our homes like this. It keeps it all together and reminds us that these things need to be done. Better that they are on your desk and scattered all of the house where they will get lost in the confusion.

    • I find I have best luck with that sort of thing if I just take it out to the car immediately! Might not work depending on the item and/or the situation, but I find it makes me less likely to forget.

  4. All so true. Good with the mail, but right now need to alter some new (from thrift store) blouses, making them shorter and making sleeves shorter than 3/4 length. Petites are too short and regular are too long, so always have this chore–also why I buy at thrift store, since I haven’t wasted much money if the alterations are not great. So right now they are hanging on an over the door rack until I have time, which saves the time and effort of finding and getting them out of the closet when I first tried them on to mark the sleeves, but does look messy. So maybe this isn’t just procrastination, but this is a busy week so maybe it is just lack of time.

    • Nana, I can sympathise because my daughter, daughters partner and my son’s partner’s daughter all have given me mending jobs in the last week or so. I am working through them at my leisure but they are all contained in the same space. Perhaps I should take a look at that dress belonging to my daughter and get it done before she arrives this evening so I can send it home with her. It is a fact of life that the to-do list never ends.

  5. I used to love reading your posts, but lately they have taken a hard-edged, impatient, uppity tone to them. I just checked in today to see if anything had changed and was sad to see it hasn’t. Also there is never anything new offered. Your posts are just recycled from older posts. I am moving on.

    • Linda, this blog is a lot like life: you get out of it what you put into it. And while people don’t mind constructive criticism, I don’t find much constructive about your comment. In fact, it struck me as being kinda hard-edged and uppity…

    • Yes Linda, do move on!

    • Ideealistin :

      Linda, I think that there is only so much to tell. One good book on the subject (my favourite is from Peter Walsh) and you actually know how it works. What I really come for is the conversation and I greatly appreciate that Colleen keeps it going. Sometimes it is the post itself, sometimes spmething someone says and sometimes gathering my own thoughts to comment which spark the action. When I find some advice or opinion too harsh I have learned to give it a close look. It may just Not Be for me, and then that’s fine – but more often than not it stings because it has hit a spot.

      • Ideealistin, you have hit the nail right square on the head here. There is only so much to tell but different people find there ah-ha moments through the different angles I come from on the same subject. so many times I have said the same things but in slightly different ways and finally it has got through to someone and their lives change for the better. So I will go on doing what I do. But I will be more careful in the future that I am not offensive I any way.

        Thank you for coming to my defence.

    • Hi Linda, I am sorry I make you feel that way. I can actually understand where you are coming from. Sometimes I sound a little harsh and cynical even to myself. However I think for the most part I balance that out with understanding a patience. The variety is intentional because different people respond to different styles. Some like the gentle approach while others respond better to harsh reality. I will be more vigilant in the future to make sure the balance is right because if you are noticing it swaying too far in one direction then possibly I have gone a little astray.

      You are most certainly correct when it comes to me recycling the same ideas. This is simply because my subject is decluttering and there is very little variation on the subject. It is simply about, overconsumption, neglect of getting rid of things no longer used or loved, being over sentimental about material possessions and in some cases, like the topic today, just not picking up after oneself. However I find though that I can write about the same things over and over again wording things differently each time and suddenly I say it just the right way for someone or a group of people. They finely get that ah ha moment that sets them on the path they have been looking for.

      I think I use my own shortcomings as an example often enough to prove that I don’t think I am perfect. Having experienced the freedom from owning to much stuff and the desire to acquire has been a wonderful thing for me and I just want to be able to share that with others. And possibly make it their reality too. I can assure you my intensions are always good.

      I just want to leave you with a thought and please don’t take it the wrong way as I say it with sincerity and concern. Is it at all possible that yours could be a defensive reaction because I am hitting a little close to the truth for you. Could it be that I am showing you a reality that you don’t want to admit to yourself. Age and, I hope, a little wisdom has shown me that when I get upset about something someone says it is because they are right and it shows me a side of myself that I am not happy with. Sometimes the hardest thing about changing habits is admitting you have one in the first place. Also facing up to what those changes entail can also be confronting. As I always say though, little by little bit by bit is the way to go as habits don’t evolve over night and neither does change.

      I hope that if I don’t have the delivery style that is going to help you in your quest to declutter then someone else will. I wish you all the best and happy decluttering.

      Colleen

    • I have to agree that posts have become more reflective and thus sound more often as if there were rules you had to follow.
      Earlier the blog was more “hands on” because of Colleen’s daily declutter item and Colleen’s regular assurance that each thing gone is a success, no matter how small or insignificant it is. I kind of miss these hands-on posts with photos as well, because, oh, so often Colleen would declutter some random thing and I thought “Oh my, I have one of those somewhere in a drawer as well!” and got up and decluttered it straight.
      So to say, I feel as well that the blog shifted a little from Colleen just telling what she did to Colleen telling us what to do. 😉
      However, I understand that Colleen is so decluttered these days that it is hard to come up with some random stuff to declutter. It’s a little sad that I don’t feel anymore as if we were tossing souvenir mugs at the same day around the world because Colleen tempted us to do so by posting a nice picture of her own. Then again, maybe it’s only me, because I have got rid of so much random clutter as well, so that my mind doesn’t hop on something as easily anymore, because there simply is no souvenir mug left in the house.
      I have to say though, that I still enjoy reading here and that I particularly enjoyed Moni’s, Deb J’s, Michelle’s and Andreia’s guest posts, which all brought with them examples and also photos and thus brought alive the spirit of the earlier blog. This is also a reason why I tried to put together some guest posts as well and keep sending them to Colleen 😉 (I’ll send you that last picture today, by the way!) I don’t know if others feel the same, but I think, if we miss real-life examples here we might just help Colleen out with them – after all, we’re all decluttering and producing real-life examples on an almost daily basis.
      (This, of course, only if Colleen wishes to get our example-posts, but so far I had the impression that she did )

      • That said, Colleen, I like your posts as well! 😉 I agree with Ideealistin above.

      • Ideealistin :

        Good analysis Sanna. I agree the blog has changed – but then the blog itself is about changing so that is a natural thing. I also enjoy guest posts and pictures a lot but I am also fine with the fact (and happy for her) that Colleen has personally evolved and reached many of her goals and now comes from a point of being decluttered I still would like to reach (my own version of it that is). Everything else would be fake. And I certainly love about this blog that it comes from the heart and from real people and real experiences and that there is no kind of marketing concept behind it.

        • You’re so right, Ideealistin!
          I agree that it’s far better that Colleen is writing from her point of view these days that she already has reached a decluttered home than when she would try and force posting like in the beginning of this blog.
          It is an ongoing process anyways and of course you always sympathize strongest with the people who are about at the same stage as yourself. But then, all of us readers are progressing as well, so our stage is constantly evolving, too. It is simply not possible to keep the same stage with all readers.
          In my opinion, it’s always most interesting to read honest opinions and experiences – no matter from what stage they are coming. So, I still like reading this blog very much, although it doesn’t make me swirl around my apartment as much any more (as I said, that may be my fault as well).

        • Hi Ideealistin, thank you again. I am glad that you notice that there is no marketing behind this blog. I do it simply out of the goodness of my heart. I do hope to complete my ebook one day and hope that some of you may want to purchase and read it but this is still a work in progress.

        • Lovely words Ideealistin and Sanna.

      • Hi Sanna and thank you for your comment. It is natural that my blog would change as I come almost to the end of my journey. There are still some things to be decluttered around here but lately I have been helping my kids settle into their new homes. We have actually given them some items of furniture which fit in this house but won’t fit when/if we finally buy the smaller home we intend to use as our home base when we travel. These items really do not apply to most folks decluttering because they aren’t decluttering to downsize simply to fit better into the home they are already live or in.

        I actually am finding it more difficult to come up with posts because I don’t have the ongoing decluttering to provide me fodder for writing. So thank you for appreciating what I do have to offer. I will however take your thoughts into consideration for future posts. And thank you also for the posts you send through to me. I really do appreciate that. I am looking forward to you sending your final photo so I can finish off the post you have in the chute ready to go. I also have a couple from Andréia and of course Deb J’s regular contributions.

        I would love more reader contributions as I know we all love a good success story. They never fail to inspire others.

        Thanks again and happy decluttering.

        • You’re so right. I remember your craft area declutter – now that was a success story!

          We have started tackling the big chunks again over here. There is so much furniture and big suitcases we don’t really need any longer, so we reshuffled things and cleared a few pieces completely and offered them for free. I already have takers for some – but unfortunately not for the biggest things yet. It’s a hassle to bring those to the dump, so I will wait a little longer, if some more takers appear.
          Still, even if most of it still sits here, now it has been listed I know it’s on its way out, even if it might take a couple of weeks more. I’m already looking forward to the soon-to-be cleared space in our apartment!

          • Hi Sanna, I share your joy. And tomorrow another items is leaving as well. It will fetch $150 for my son so that makes me doubly happy. Good luck with offloading the rest of yours. I have my fingers crossed that you will find takers.

          • Thank you!
            Great that you can fetch some money for your son!

            I didn’t even try to get any money for my stuff, as neither quality nor condition is that good anymore. It’s still in working condition though, so someone who needs to furnish a room for next to no money might be glad to get it. We’ll see. 🙂

  6. I am sorry you feel that way, Linda. I find Colleen to be a warm, charming person who shares information and tips to help us deal with our “stuff”. I think she is funny as well as kind and considerate and I appreciate her.

    • I agree Michelle.

    • I agree completely with you Michelle! I have had lots of these unfinished tasks around the house and I get the feelings Colleen described in the post. I think her posts help me see where I am leaving things “slack” and help me see how I can feel better about myself and my house. So, thanks Colleen!

    • Thank you ladies I am glad you feel that way. I understand that my brand of reality does not sit well with everyone though and if ever anyone finds what I say offensive then please feel free to let me know. I am not infallible after all and am well aware of that. I really didn’t take offence to Linda’s comment and I don’t mind a little self reflection. It’s good for the soul.

  7. Linda, I am all for constructive criticism but there is a way to phrase things to avoid giving offense. Presumably we visit this website to get some insights and support on dealing with clutter. I have found that here. Today’s post is certainly direct and to the point of the issue, but also very encouraging.

    Re: Random items getting left all over the house – my grandmother had a good saying – “you should never leave a room empty-handed”. I try to always do this – eg. if I am going from the living room to my bedroom and there is an item that belongs in my bedroom, I take it with me. At least items tend to stay in the rooms where they belong, even if the rooms themselves aren’t perfectly tidy!

    • Hi Megan S I am glad you are finding my post useful to your decluttering needs.

      It seems your grandmother and Nanette’s mother have the same brand of wisdom. They are both very wise. Our house is on two levels, everything down except the master bedroom, ensuite and “parents retreat”. When I have something to go upstairs I place it at the bottom of the stairs and then take it up the next time I go. Saves me running up and down all day but hard to miss when I do go.

      It seems you are already on the track to achieving your decluttering goals with this attitude of pick up as you go. Well done.

  8. Wow I usually think I’m doing well on the clutter front but this post got me! Bills go straight to work with me for paying – it’s more random mail that lingers usually needing filing.

    The coffee table list you made makes me shudder – but then, I don’t want a tissue bin everywhere I might use a tissue. And I’m usually seated for a while in that spot so gwtting up for the bin is annoying. I also collect empty water bottles for refilling all over the house – drives me nuts. Definitely something I need to work on!

    • Hi Sarah, I agree about the tissues but I also admit that I had left the room several times without taking it with me to put in the trash. it is so easy to keep up that kind of behaviour and next thing find the whole house in a mess. Best to learn to clean as we go.

      • Colleen – all this brings to mind the “re-set” challenge based on Mark’s comment that we did last year some stage – October?

  9. Hi Colleen
    I have found your blog extremely helpful. I am working on my clutter & it’s going to take a long time, so your blog helps inspire me. You are doing a wonderful community service by writing this blog & I do appreciate it. Don’t let “seagulls” put you off – ref. The Minimalists.

    • Thank you Katy and welcome to 365 Less Things. I am glad you are managing to chip away at your clutter. Rome wasn’t build in a day so don’t you worry if it takes a while. So long as you continually make progress you will get there in the end. Good luck and drop by often to tell us how you are progressing.

  10. I’ve been receiving your emails for a few months now and truly appreciate the encouragement to put into practice the things I already know about decluttering, but have been making excuses not to do, and all the different suggestions and situations that everyone presents. It’s great to get a new perspective on something that has been difficult for me for years. Thanks to all of you for sharing your experiences, successes and struggles.
    I would like to share something my mother says she learned during her nurse’s training in the early ’50s. It’s a very simple thing, but I think it would help with today’s subject: EVERY TIME YOU LEAVE A ROOM, TAKE SOMETHING WITH YOU. (Sorry about the caps, I don’t have many options for emphases on this device.)
    For me the funny thing is that she didn’t tell me this until I was an adult. All those years at home, struggling with my clutter; and her just cleaning up after herself as she went, frustrated by my hoarder in training habits!

    • Hi Nanette and thank you for your contribution to today’s conversation. Your mother is a wise lady because that is sage advice. I hope that what you are reading here is now making a difference and you are finally putting into practice what you already knew. It does help to hear it from others who have been in your shoes. I hope you will drop by with more wisdom, this time gained through your own experience. Good luck and happy decluttering.

  11. This is definitely a falling-down point in our household. While we tend to have most of our clutter under control it doesn’t take much in the way of discarded papers, empty coffee cups and the like to make it look messy. The good thing is that now we have designated homes for most items, it doesn’t take much effort to put things straight.

    Ian surprised me recently by taking some junk mail directly to the recycle bin. This is a great change from when I met him – piles of papers cascading off every horizontal surface, three years’ worth of accumulation, valuable stuff and junk all mixed together. I don’t think we’ll ever tame the Paper Monster but we’ve at least got ‘im cornered!

    • Wendy B, good on Ian, he is doing well on the home front. Mail lost among the clutter can get very costly when some simple organising can keep it under control. I am glad you have managed to have at lease train your monster enough to keep him in check.

      You are so right also that once the clutter is cleared and everything has its place it is much easier to return it there if it does happen to stray a little.

  12. With unfinished projects, sometimes it is nice just to have someone come over and help to finish it up, like painting for example. Sometimes we get tired of the same thing, but a fresh face can see things differently and help to motivate us as we also have the time to spend with them.

  13. I have found that lately items that I need “to do” haven’t been making it onto my “to do” list which is why they are “still there”. I have a dress of Courtney’s to mend a small rip in the lace and my folding has been dumped on the floor (the culprit: my son looking for clean socks) and sitting on my printer are library books, some papers that need attention and recipe books that need to go back in the cupboard but need to have a clear out first. Will make sure I get these done tonight.

    • Hi Moni, I must admit I also like a to-do list as it keeps me on track. I love crossing things off and the only way to do that is to get them done. You list, although not written, doesn’t sound that long considering you have three teenagers in your home. Well done.

      I am sure one of those teenagers would be glad to fold that clean laundry, perhaps the one who dumped it on the floor. 😉

  14. Good post today and great reminders. I appreciate the daily help that you give us here. We are not trying to be perfect but we learn from you and others here, ways to improve and accomplish our decluttering goals. Not everything will apply to each person, but we take from this what will help and share with one another. Sorry that Linda feels like she does, but I find this site to be encouraging. It helps keep me on track, not just with ridding my home of things by your ideas, but it helps me to daily be conscious of the decisions that I make concerning what I buy. It helps me to think about if I need something or not, and whether something will make it through my home’s door because I don’t want to end up in the same cluttered state as before. Nevertheless, this site may not be the right fit for everyone, but for me, it has made a difference and has had a positive impact in my life for the past year.

    When we rid our home of things that are not useful or needed, we are taking action and making a thoughtful decision on each item we own. What is left in our home deserves that same thoughtful process. Just taking the time to return things to their proper location or “finish the task” will keep things under control. Not to mention that the next time we need an item we will know where it is because it has been returned to it’s proper location. A few times of leaving things undone or not putting things away will just cause more wasted time in the long run because we will be left with a mess or we will be unable to find an item.

    • Well said, Jen!

    • Hi Jen, thank you for your comment and I am very glad that you find my blog useful and encouraging. More than that I am glad you are slowly achieving your declutter goals through your vigilance and your willingness to change. Well done you. I appreciate the updates on your progress as they help cheer us all on. Your successes are inspiration for others to succeed. So thank you for sharing.

    • I agree, well said Jen! I am also impressed by Colleen’s courteous and gracious reply to the unhappy commenter. A good example, which I try to follow. This blog is a pleasure to come to because of the tone and atmosphere, well blended with good advice and a true desire to help others.

  15. Hello,
    I firstly read the title this way “The clutter caused by unfinished projects”.
    Like, I’ve been given two t-shirts I really love, but they are a size XL and I am a size M. So my mother is willing to shrink them by using a sewing machine. The thing is we don’t have one, and we’re not going to buy one just for that. So we’re going to rent or borrow one. But they still sit there. And a few other projects like that too.
    I usually tell myself that if I don’t bother taking the time to read an article (or something of the like) that have been waiting me for quite a long time, I’d better get rid of it (if it’s not because important tasks prevent me from doing it, which is currently the case).
    When I have something to do and feel lazy, I tell myself that the time losing to argue about why I should do it today or the day after, would be better used if I actually do it. It usually works.

    • Good ideas and strategies Cindy. I was having a conversation about procrastination with a six year old this past weekend. I explained to her that she spent more time feeling bad while avoiding a task than she would if she just got on with it. I demonstrated that it took about three seconds to choose whether an item of clothing on her floor was dirty or clean and to put it in the appropriate basket. When I told her that even if there were as many of 50 items of clothing on the floor it would only take her less than three minutes to clean it all up. I think I must have gotten through to her because I came back five minutes later and the job was done. I rewarded her for her efforts.

      • Ideealistin :

        Oh Colleen,
        I wish you would have been around when I was six years old and told me that! When the time comes I’ll definitely will try to teach my child not to only not to produce (too much) clutter but also not to fear it.

        • Ideealistin, I wish you luck with teaching your child these principals. They don’t always seem to listen or follow your example but it often becomes apparent once they have flown the nest that they really were taking it in.

          Believe it or not I was a bit of a messy kid. But I also had chores and I suppose I learned from that.

  16. If there’s one thing I know is nearly always in a constant mess but I can never be bothered to tidy up it’s my cross stitching box! I think it’s partly because there’s far too many projects in there, usually what I want out of the box involves disrupting everything else and then I get fed up of constantly tidying it up. Help is almost here though – I have a three month holiday from university soon and I’m planning on finishing all my work-in-progresses so that the box is nice and tidy ALL the time, not some of the time. It also means I can stop buying threads twice because I can’t find one.

    I’ve also decided to spare myself the laborious task of winding all my threads onto those little cardboard bobbins and have simply taken out some the dividers in my thread boxes so that around twenty lengths of thread can sit lengthways. If I arrange it so that threads no.’s 200-220 sit in one gap, then 221-240 in the next etc. it shouldn’t make it harder for me to find my threads. I think a photo would illustrate this better but suffice to say I’ve found a way to save myself buying more cardboard bobbins and a whole lot of time winding them on, which can now be spent doing something else.

    I also see that’s been an unpleasant comment today. I’ll be honest and say a few weeks back I was mildly offended by something Colleen wrote in a reply to me, but then when I took 1-2 days to mull it over I understood what she was getting at and was no longer bothered by it, but instead can now use that knowledge to help myself improve. It touched close to home for me too, and that’s why I think it bothered me. Sometimes the truth is unpleasant but it doesn’t mean it isn’t the truth, and I think when you are decluttering there are a lot of lies we have to stop telling ourselves (eg. I’ll use that one day) and many truths we have to accept (eg. I never liked that present X gave me 5 years ago).

    I have no complaints about 365, as someone pointed out we are all at different stages of decluttering and so re-posts don’t matter so much because that re-post of something you figured out a year ago could be something someone else hasn’t ‘seen’ or grasped yet. I would definitely like to see more photos though, they really add to a post whether it’s depicting the kind of items being discussed that day or the end results (or even half-way results!).

    Keep doing what you’re doing Colleen, from what I’ve read everyone still here at 365 get’s something from your posts and we are all behind you.

    • Hello everyone…..I have to agree with Jane W here that everyone comes to this blog at a different time and past posts that some of you have read before are “new” to a lot of us. I have only been with you all a few months now, but get so much from the blog posts and just as much from the regular “comment contributors”……Please keep on doing what you have been, Colleen, because I for one would miss you terribly and this community! I work from home (alone alot) and I feel this blog gives me a forum to talk out problems and successes, like to a best girlfriend. I don’t know anyone else on this decluttering journey and I feel good knowing there are women (and men) out there that understand. As far as the mini mission for today, your post prompted me to get on with removing 8 things from my living room that had been there not contributing in any way ( wall art and knick knacks). Thank you for the push I needed! 🙂

      • Hi Kim and thank you for your support. I really enjoy what I do here and I am glad you are enjoying the camaraderie as well. It is funny how the blog has inspired two people today while it is something I still have a lot of. We are art lovers you see. My husband also has a lot of mementoes from his military career that adorn the walls as well. We have given a couple of things to the children lately though and I will see if there are more we would be willing to part with that would make their home more homely. Only if they want them of course.

    • Becareful what you wish for I have heaps of photos and one day I’ll send them to Colleen and she’ll post them and you’ll all scream “WHAT THE” !!!!! hahahahahaha

      Just to weigh in I think just about everything, everywhere, everyday is re-hashed or repeated. Doesn’t matter though that is how we learn. Wash rinse repeat!! 1×2=2 repeat!! sort clothes, hang clothes, wear clothes, put clothes in hamper for washing, wash clothes, dry clothes, fold clothes or repeat above Hee hee. I re-hash and repeat things day in day out!!! It’s the circle of everything!!! Enjoy your day! Smile repeat !!!

      About to repeat my cycle on the garage AGAIN!!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

      • Hi Dizzy, I look forward to those photos, they should keep me busy for weeks. 😉 How is the new house coming along or is it done and I just missed the memo.

        • Hi Colleen,
          The house is still on the go, hopefully we’ll be in by Christmas!!! I have been sorting everything out since our move here. A few months packed away and guess what!!! I don’t want it here anymore!! I must admit though, I had no idea that ‘we’ had so much that we really don’t use or want. I swear it multiplies under the cover of cardboard and packing hahaha. Thank goodness though I have been taking the time to go through it all (which I thought I had already but hey!!) I have been able to get rid of many items that are just not ‘right’ for our lifestyle now! Still a dizzy little clam but I’m getting happier as the amount diminishes!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

          • Hi Dizzy, there is a big chance I will be moving at years end also. Right now I don’t think I will find anything I no longer want but you just never know. My kids keep trying to lay claim on the stuff I have kept, probably because it is the best of the bunch. Sometime I let them take it sometimes not, so things are still leaving. It is rare that I miss anything once it is gone.

  17. Maybe it has been said before (I haven’t read everyone’s comments), but I like how we all share thoughts, ideas, progress, and even our failings with each other. It can be encouraging or inspiring to hear about another person. When I first found the blog, I e-mailed Colleen directly and said how nice and respectful everyone is to one another on the blog. Some blogs have really cranky or downright mean people on them and that is certainly not helpful at all.

    • Oh Michelle,
      I think you must of read all the ones I did!! Some really get on ‘that’ nerve. I was cruising the web for ‘ideas’ for quite a while, whilst trying to tackle my overload of stuff. I think I was hoping that someone would just say “it’s ok to have too much, but if you really want to pare down here’s a couple of ideas that worked for me’!!! That’s the line I use now with friends. Thank God I landed here. I still visit other sites but I love this one because everyone seems genuine and they are all in the same spot, just got too much. I didn’t need to be harped at for not having a Martha Stewart house, although just about every blog out there started with someone having the same problem, TOO MUCH STUFF!!! I don’t want to be too sparse but I know I’ll never be truly minimalistic, I just want room to move and function and not have to dust every 5 minutes!!!

      I wish you well on your de-clutter journey 🙂 🙂 🙂

  18. I have eradicated almost all of these unfinished tasks, time clutter, by applying the Do It Now principle.

    In regard to mail, I won’t check the mail box unless I have time to actually deal with the mail and follow it all the way through.