Tues 14Aug 2012 ~ Chain Reaction Decluttering

Last week I dubbed one of my decluttering efforts “Chain Reaction Decluttering” and Jennifer suggested I write a post about it. The basis of chain reaction decluttering is that you declutter one thing or an small area and by so doing effect a chain reaction of more decluttering. For example…

  • I decluttered some of my craft supplies which allowed the opportunity to rearrange my craft space in so doing I freed up some storage containers which in turn were able to be decluttered.
  • I decluttered towels, sheets and duvet covers from my linen closet with freed up a shelf which allowed me to transfer the few still useful to me items that were under my bed which assisted in my under-bed decluttering efforts.
  • I sold all our ski clothing on ebay with left very few items in a huge under-bed storage box. Those remaining items could then easily fit elsewhere in the house. This left the floor under my bed finally clear of clutter.
  • I slowly decluttered china and other items from my buffet and hutch while at the same time I decluttered excess items from my kitchen. Eventually there were so few items left in the hutch that I could move most the remainder to the space I had freed up in the kitchen. This allowed me to give away the hatch which freed up the buffet section to become our TV unit. The TV unit had been temporarily positioned on an old coffee table which then was of no use to us and could also be decluttered.

In reality all decluttering has the potential to cause  chain reactions. But if you are only decluttering enough to alleviate the pressure on a space there will be no chain reaction.  If however  you are willing to continue your decluttering to its full potential chain reactions will undoubtedly occur and your home will become a tidier, easier to clean, comfortable and serene space to live in. So what do you want from your decluttering? Do you simply want to relieve the pressure only to, more than likely, end up back at square one soon enough? Or do you want to follow though causing wonderful chain reactions that not only have the potential to free up lots of space in your home but to possibly free you of the desire to acquire stuff in the first place?

Today’s Mini Mission

How many handbags do you have and how many of them do you actually use. Declutter one that that you haven’t used in a long time because you don’t love it like you once did.

Today’s Declutter Item

Here are some more of the crafting supplies that I decluttered which played a part in the chain reaction decluttering of several storage containers from my craft area. I recently sold these books on ebay.

Craft magazine special editions

Something I Am Grateful For Today

Meeting up with some of my long time readers in Sydney.

* * * * * * *

“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” Brother David Steindl-Rast

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.


  1. I love the chain reaction. I’m working on some things right now that are part of a chain reaction.

    Wish I could have been part of the group meeting you in Sydney. It would be so much fun. Have a great time and tell them all hello from me.

  2. Colleen, Nice job on the chain reaction decluttering. I love it. Books gone, now bookcases gone. Gift giving gone, now gift wrapping supplies gone. Storage in coffee table gone, now coffee table gone. Almost everything in entertainment center gone, now entertainment center gone.

  3. Colleen
    Have you had any regrets about any item you have moved on?
    Has there been a time where the very thing that would have suited a particular job has been decluttered from your house?
    Has there been a point where you or your family think you have gone too far and the house looks a bit bare?
    Have you had to replace an item that was recently decluttered?

    • Great points Kathy,
      I often wonder if anyone has gone too far, at this point I do know mine is not far enough, but I would love to know if anyone went so drastic they got blindsided or pulled back in time to rescue the “kid’ hahaha maybe the couch!

      Have a fun day all 🙂 🙂 🙂

      • Dizzy asked, “I often wonder if anyone has gone too far” in a chain reaction to Kathy’s comments/questions.

        Personally, I would have to say “never, ever, ever”. The only regret I have ever had is that I hung on to some things that should have left much sooner.

      • Dizzy, ‘rescue the kid’…LOL!!! So funny!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Hi Kathy – the only item I have had to replace that was decluttered (and it wasn’t even that recent) was a ringbinder – and to be honest it wouldn’t have been ‘cool’ enough for my daughter anyway. It cost $4.99 to replace. Apart from that I have no regrets about any other items that I have gotten rid of, my only regret is that I didn’t start this earlier.

      I wrote a guest post for Colleen in July called ‘Just in case’ which might answer your 2nd question, if you type that into the search field you should find it.

      I have also wondered if there comes a point where you have gone too far, but from reading the daily posts and all the comments that come from all over the world, I have noticed that everyone seems to know in their mind what they want their home to look like. My guess is that when people reach that point they stop and just maintain.

      • I guess so, too.
        We have passed the state of huge culls (when you go about your wardrobe and toss out about 30% of it), it’s really rather single items which get decluttered nowadays. Also I get really reluctant about replacing broken things. I’d have never thought that I would do so well without an electric kettle, but it broke two months back and I haven’t really missed it yet.

    • I would rather someone say a space looks too bare than the ever say it’s too crammed full of stuff.

  4. Great to meet up with you today Colleen, you too Snosie & Calico Ginger. x

  5. The chain reaction is definitely a great side effect of decluttering! I could relate to this when I cleared the nicknacks off the top of my dresser. Doing that made space to put my one beautiful Japanese vase and a couple of framed photos. Just these few things are more lovely and eye-catching to me than all the things that used to crowd the space.

  6. I can second the “got rid of books, then got rid of the bookcase”. I love chain reaction decluttering, and now I know the term for it!

    Thanks Colleen!

  7. Hi Colleen – I love the term “Chain Reaction Decluttering” – am hoping for such a phenomen with my bookcase and dvd cupboard, will get busy writing you an update.

  8. Got rid of three containers last week because I had decluttered their contents. That was a first for me. Up until now, I’ve always found a new use for the containers I’ve emptied.

  9. This is awesome. I cleaned out under the bed in the master bedroom. Which lead to decluttering some winter clothing that was stored in a container under the bed; so then we didn’t need the container; then I could declutter (sell) the rug that I didn’t love that was used in the master bedroom (we have gorgeous hardwood floors).

    One of the mini-missions this week was to get rid of a make-up item; well, I had actually done that last week (timing!), so instead I went through and cleaned out (good, solid, thorough cleaning) the bathroom drawers. Ahhh, feels soooooo good!!! Clean and organized and simple. Yay! 🙂

  10. After reading the “breaking up sets” article, I realized I had attachments for my inexpensive food processor that were once used for preparing vegetables for canning and for stir fry meals for our once much larger family. These are no longer used and I have no plans to use them, but plan to keep using the food processor until it dies, so will take these to the thrift store, and will probably get rid of the ice cube container they had been stored in. This was a good jog to the memory, and the attachments were certainly using valuable space for no reason.

    • I have an industrial-size food processor in the attic. It’s broken twice & I’m seeing how long we can go without it. Thus far we’ve not missed it. It’s amazing how little we used it to begin with & have instead been “making do” with a little 3 cup mini-processors that more than exceeds our needs.
      What made us think we needed such a big food processor to begin with still baffles me.

  11. Think of all the peace of mind you have from all of the chain reaction decluttering you have done. For so long, the emphasis seemed to be on getting containers to organize clutter. It is so much wiser to skip the containers as well as the stuff and not have any of it in the house.

    • Spendwisemom, Absolutely! So much wiser and easier on body, mind and soul.

    • Hi Spendwisemom,
      Your comment was so true, I can’t count the amount of times I have seen people buying the ‘pretty containers’ to organise their ‘STUFF’ when I was just dying to say “why not get rid of some of your stuff”! One day I did, I myself was buying a cheap (reduced price container) for my son to use at the Dance Studio, whilst I was choosing mine, two ladies were deciding how many containers they were going to need to store their and I quote “crap” in. I just gently said if they were spending good money on things to store ‘crap’ in why not cull the said ‘crap’!!! This led to a conversation on dealing with unwanted clutter and in under 5 mins they put the containers back (huge ones I might add) and decided then and there to go home and help each other CULL THEIR CRAP!!! It made me smile to think what the rest of their day was like. I bought my container and my sons tap shoes live in it and they are protected and packed at the studio very neatly and doing that has opened up some shelf space in his cupboard Yay!!!

      Although I’m still in the process I am happy – ish with my progress. It does amaze me, however, how much I really notice how cluttered everyone around me is now the clutter goggles are off!

  12. I want to know how the meetup went! Details please 🙂

  13. Chain reaction decluttering…interesting topic & fitting. A few years back I returned to college to start/get my Bachelor’s (4-year degree). While I’m not quite there yet because of….well, life happening, I am only 3 classes away. I go to school on-line because it’s a ton easier because of hubby’s job…we are currently in Italy & will move somewhere in April (haven’t found out yet….will know by Christmas). Because of that, all of my school work is saved onto my external hard drive and backed up periodically (when I think about it) onto CDs. I STILL printed hard copies of everything…and I do mean everything. Why? “Just in case.” I also had all of my textbooks that I lugged from our last house….in England. After reading a decluttering book by Brooks Palmer, the light came on. I sold a few textbooks, kept some (only for my major), and donated the rest to the library.

    The files? Between school and personal/family files, we had a 2-drawer file cabinet full. Now? A milk crate. Odd yes, but I had always wanted one and it’s perfect for hanging folders. 🙂

    The cabinet? Waiting to be picked up by a lady that wants/needs it 🙂

    This day’s mini-mission. Those are my weakness. My theory is that the one I would LOVE to have is too pricey for what I would spend. It’s what I see as a perfect bag….at an almost $200 USD price tag. My palms itch when I see/hold it, but that little tag keeps me away. Sooooo….what do I do? I buy others that are cheaper when I get a handbag craving….at $20 or 20 Euros….or less. I had tons…to the point where hubby said no more until I get rid of some. And I have….about 20 so far. Nope, still not done AND have probably 7 in my wardrobe. There is one that I’ve been iffy about. I will take a picture and list that one on our local site…..in honor of this day’s mission. 🙂