Use it or lose it!

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About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. use it or lose it- very apt title for the post …. decluttering summed up in the title itself!

  2. This one is good. Giving second chance should definitely make it easier to part with unloved/unused items, because you see, that they just don’t work. Actually that’s what I’m kind of doing now – it’s more using up, but that still counts right? After every empty box and bottle that goes out, there is less clutter left.

    Around Christmas time I was sick, so I stayed home and because of having a lot of free time I started to declutter… my computer. There was such a mess! I know, I know, those gigabytes don’t really take up much space, but if you think of all the additional memory cards/sticks etc. you might need… I wasn’t as strict as when it comes to stuff, but about 20-30 GB left my computer’s memory anyways. Who needs, for example, lots of similar or blurred photos, right?

    • Hi Anda I think I approved your first comment during my break but didn’t say hi. So a warm welcome to you to 365 Less Things.

      Using up certainly does count. I love a good use it up challenge.

      I did a bit of a computer clean up myself late last year. I had double ups on most of my decluttered item photographs. I deleted all the reduced sized doubles and that freed up quite a bit of space on my computer too.

  3. This is a good post Colleen because it reminds us that we need to not get complacent and forget those things we keep putting off just because they are hard to decide on. Good things to report: 1. Friend S spent 3 weeks in Missouri & Iowa over the holidays. While gone she helped her mom declutter a huge load of books. Smile! 2. We got busy over the holidays and decluttered all the Christmas decor down to the 3 foot tree, a wooden Advent tree in a box, a small container holding a centerpiece and wooden star, and the two 3-section containers with everything else. That’s 1/3 of what we had and all neatly shelved in the shed. 3. I spent some time decluttering my Kindle of the books I didn’t like and then put everything in virtual shelves according to type.

    • Wait, you can do that on the Kindle? I still haven’t figured out how to arrange them. I just delete them from the Kindle and never look at what’s in the cloud. I’d much rather have them on virtual shelves so I don’t have to search through the kids’ books to get to mine!

      • You can get a free app called Fire Dept Book Center or some such. It looks like a bookcase with books. You set up folders. It’s great.

        • If anyone want to know how to do this with Kobo – log on and in your myLibrary go to the ‘Im reading’ tab, select the book and delete. It will still be in ‘Purchased’. The next time you sync it will remove it from your device. When you want the book back, go to the Purchased tab, select the book and click on bookmark and say yes to returning it to “I’m reading”.

        • Thanks, Deb! I just downloaded it and will be sorting tonight. This makes me so happy!!!!

    • Well done as usual Deb J. And how about S helping someone else declutter. Woo Hoo!
      I don’t have a kindle so I really can’t comment on that but I do have three books waiting to be picked up at the library and two book reviews to do for my readers. Yikes.

  4. Great examples Colleen of the categories of clutter we face and how to deal with them. May I add another which to my shame I’ve faced a few times on my decluttering journey? It’s the ” I didn’t even remember I had it” category. At least there’s no hesitation for me with that one – it’s a definite “lose”!

    • Hi Megan,
      I like your new category, I don’t believe I have ever included that one. I am one of those people who forgets a lot of things but never what I own and I usually know exactly where to put my fingers on everything as well. Mind you that is a whole lot easier now that I have so much less stuff.

  5. Great post! I told a relative the other day (when we were discussing decluttering) my thought on getting rid of items that are difficult to let go of, especially those that are kept out of obligation. My thought is, “I have enjoyed that item long enough, and now it is time for someone else to get some enjoyment out of it.” It helps me sometimes when making difficult decisions. I like the idea of bringing out items, especially those you haven’t seen for ages, and giving them that final chance to stay or go. It is better to get things out in the open and force ourselves to deal with them. I have done that a lot with things in my kitchen. If I have things that do the same thing, I will pick the better of the two. It is even better when I have things that can serve a dual purpose. I am replacing a few things, here and there, that are a little outdated too. For instance,purchasing a collapsible strainer for my kitchen needs, because it takes up less room. I like ideas like that because the less room I need for my things the better. I am definitely part of the use it up plan too. I have reduced my toiletries down to one shelf in my bathroom. It may not sound like much, but it is a start and a little bit everyday counts.

    • Jen – I too find myself saying that “its time for someone else to enjoy it” quite often these days. Somehow it makes it a lot easier to part with something that we once really liked but just don’t forsee an active future for the item.

    • Hi Jen,
      let me know how the collapsable strainer goes. That is what I am planning to get when the one I have finally falls apart on me. It is having structural integrity problems now. I hate being disappointed with items that I think are going to be good but aren’t so a little feedback on that would be good.

      It seems you have been doing a lot of the same things I have done over the last three years. There are far fewer things in my kitchen now because of it. My toiletries, like yours, are minimal as well.

  6. “…engaging with the items that you haven’t used or appreciated in a while” That’s a funny way to put it! 😉

    • I makes sense though. It is one way to be sure whether they really are useful or meaningful to you. I won’t take credit for the idea though it was from Grethen Rubins book.

  7. This post made me think of some items and some clothes that have been out of sight and out of mind for a long time…

  8. I have to share this! I have to.

    My husband is giving up his beloved train set. He’s made the decision…I am gently reminding him to figure out how he wants to do it (donate or toss, since it’s broken) but he’s made a huge step forward!

    Also…I am posting my wedding dress on Freecycle. 🙂 Two HUGE things out of our closet!

    • Congratulations Lynn! It is very good to reclaim our space lost to stuff. Be gentle with your husband, you know how men are with their toys 😀 (my husband STILL keeps his train set…sigh).

      • I’m definitely being gentle. If he changes his mind, I’m okay with that, but…I don’t think he will. He might want to buy a new one later for our kids but that’s something they can do together and, well, it would work! Haha.

    • Hi Lynn, funny you should mention those two items specifically. I am the one with both the wedding dress and the electric train in the household. I think I will freecycle the train and be choosy which person to release it too. I would like it to go to someone who is really keen. As for the wedding dress I am going to see if it survives the wash first before I decide its fate.

  9. I have kept a lot of things out of obligation. Right now in my garage, waiting to go to the Salvos, are a pile of baby/toddler toys. My two younger children are only 25 and 3 months old, and yet I’m getting rid of them because either they haven’t been played with much or we have other toys that do basically the same thing. The only reason I’ve kept them are because we hadn’t finished having babies so we’d better keep them! One was a gift and is huge, and I feel really good about it being gone, because I never really liked it in the first place.


  1. […] Here’s how to decide what to keep and what to let go […]