Using your smart phone as a declutter tool

I am not one for promoting gadgets or any kind but I have discovered in the last year or so that a smart phone can come in quite handy when it comes to finding new homes for clutter. Here are three ways I have found smart phones assist me with my decluttering efforts.

Sending photos via messages ~ Every now and again I make a decision to declutter something that I think one or another of my friends might find useful. So I snap a photos of the item and send it via my smart phone to theirs with a message asking if they would like the item. I am always careful to let them know that they shouldn’t feel obliged. A quick yes or no is all the is required in response and then we usually set up a day to have coffee together and hand over the item/s. So not only am I happy to get rid of something and my friend happy to receive it but we get to enjoy a coffee and a chat together as well.

Social Media ~ Aside from personal friends there is also a local social group that I am a member of who communicates via Facebook. It is perfectly acceptable to post For Sale ads on this Facebook Group site and I have found this to be a very effective way to sell certain items. Being as many of the group members are stay at home mums I find that toys and craft items are particularly popular sale items. It is so easy to take a photo, hit the share tab, choose Facebook, add a short message and send using just my smart phone anywhere, anytime. This is much simpler that using my camera, finding the cable to uploading the photo to my computer and then going through all the rigmarole of finding and attaching the photo and typing the message. With my smartphone I can even speak the message and allow the text converter to type the text for me. Too easy.

Online Storage and Sharing services ~ I have set up a free online storage and sharing service, to sync my smart phone to my computer. It automatically transfers the photos I take using my smart phone to my computer. This eliminated the need for me to upload photos manually for my standard camera. This one small simplification makes a big difference as I use photos for advertising purposes on ebay, to send photos of items to friends who aren’t set up to receive photos with their phones and for adding photos to my album when advertising to give away items.

Enlighten me more if you have other clever uses for your smart phone when it comes to decluttering.

Today’s Mini Mission

Remove those silly stick figure decals from the back window of your car or that thing hanging from your rear vision mirror. They serve no purpose except to have wasted your money in the first place and obstruct your vision potentially causing a safety hazard.

Today’s Declutter Item

This television cable is both broken and not needed so out it goes.

Television Cable

Eco Tip for the Day

Install water flow regulators to all of your faucets. This will not only reduce the amount of water you use but may also help avoid those nuisance moments when you turn the water on to hard and it splashes all over the place.

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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  • The key to action is enjoyment I received a comment from Bernadette on the 365 Less Things Facebook page this week that said... "I enjoy getting rid of things. It is so liberating. Got rid of a bunch of old photos […]
About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. Well, I don’t have a Smart Phone but I do use my computer in much the same way you do your Smart Phone. Mom feels I spend too much time in front of my laptop but she doesn’t seem to realize how much business I take care of on here. I handle all of our banking, bills, insurance, and repairs online as well as reading your blog, keeping up with facebook and keeping up with our church social site. It all takes time on the laptop.

    • Hi Deb J, I know where you are coming from although I would say that I do spend too much time on my computer especially since my husband is the one who takes care of most of those transactions you mentioned. I love that they save on unnecessary paper coming in.

      I do however like to keep up with what is going in within the scope of my family and friends outside my home this way and to use it to arrange my social life where possible. And of course most of my time is spent attending to all things related to my blog.

  2. I hear you. Before mine got stolen I used an ebay local ads app that made it supereasy to upload the product. Now I have to use my other phone (camera is not so good, but ok) via bluetooth to my computer or I use my fancy camera and take the cable to upload the pictures (they usually have quite a size and they need to be minimized before I can upload them). I really hate all this action around the simple task of just advertising my stuff, but I do get the moments of action. usually when I get fed up with the minimal progress on decluttering again.

    I am sad for my smartphone to be gone, because it did cost money and I really liked some features (having a global map was the best actually). But to be honest, I am also happy and a bit relieved: I got really annoyed by all those emails, fb-notifications, whatsapps, texts and updates coming in, and in 4 months I could not find out how to stop it (you need to study “smartphonology” in order to get it. For me it was a constant danger of distraction, and although I dont like reading on small screens, I did end up doing it. and I somehow ended up spending time doing things I actually dont like doing. which is just ridiculously stupid. So I take it as a sign of fate that it got stolen and wont get one until it falls from the sky right into my hands. 😉

    • I understand Lena how this can become a problem. I haven’t set up email on mine so that is one thing I don’t have to ignore and I don’t interact that much on Facebook. Most of the rest of the time my 47 year old ears don’t hear it go off in my handbag so that again keeps it from distracting me so all in all I don’t waste very much time on mine at all. So for me the benefits outweigh the pointless waste of time they can end up being.

  3. I received this comment from Delores via email…

    I’ve started doing my shopping lists on the list function. No paper and always with me. I’ve eliminated lots of little scraps of paper that in addition to being clutter are often misplaced and everything is in one place, on my phone.

  4. I also do my shopping list on my smart phone Delores, using the ap for the grocery store I shop at. I am still on the fence about where this is more time consuming but it sure does save paper. I just need to hone my skills at using the ap I think. Or perhaps I should follow your lead and just use simple list ap instead.

  5. I have been trying hard to use the online sharing and storage services out there for a couple reasons. (1) If my hard drive decides to all of a sudden quit working, we do not lose everything and (2) It allows me to remove a lot of clutter from my home office, by scanning and filing everything.

    A third value I have found is the ease of sharing files and information with others by using some of these services. Many of them you can send a link to someone to view or edit the files.

    We redid our office this year and removing paperwork was essential to making the space a healthy work environment.

    • Hi Larry,
      decreasing the amount of flow and storage of paper in an office certainly is a good way to simply and declutter. We have done this with our home office and as a result we generate very little paper waste these days. We are also finding more and more ways to reduce in that area. Good on you for doing the same!

      • I always find it helps me focus better to have a simplified space without much clutter. 🙂

        • Oh Larry, I certainly agree with you there. My workmates at my last job went nuts because I had the biggest space and it was spotless. A couple of pictures on the walls and a step file for the things I was working on that day. It drove them crazy. They kept saying why did I get the space if i wasn’t going to use it. Well I had two sets of lateral file drawers and my desk drawers that contained everything I had to maintain. It was just all out of sight. It also meant that if I was working on a project report I could lay out all the pieces on the surfaces so I could get the big picture. But everything was locked away at the end of the day.

          • Deb, That is funny, because in my last office, I actually had them remove a bunch of the shelves in the office after I got rid of all the clutter the last manager had. The trash can makes an excellent filing cabinet for any documents you do not actually need for legal or regulatory requirement reasons.

            It made the office much cleaner, along with a friendlier work and meeting environment.

        • I see you know what I mean. I actually had people ask to have our meetings in my “office” because it was “Spacious”. I thought it was a hoot. I also had some cabinets above the lateral files. I collected all the holiday decorations and filed them away in those cabinets. It got them out of the floor of the printer cubby the cubby dwellers used. By just taring them down to the way they came and packaging them properly I was able to rid the space of 10 large boxes and put them into two unused cabinets. Boy I wish they would have let me at some of those cubbies and other offices.

    • Larry – I am trying to turn my office at work ‘paper-less’ with the emphasis on less as in reduced amount, I don’t see no-paper being do-able quite yet, but definately by e-mailing invoices, receiving creditors invoices by e-mail, using pdf etc. Takes a little bit of thinking to get your head around the way its always been done, but I’m enjoying the challenge.

      • Moni, I agree it is a pretty big challenge. I still have more paper around than I would like. Simplifying is certainly a journey.

      • Moni & Larry, my last two jobs were all about helping the companies I worked for get away from paper so that everything anyone needed was online and quickly searchable. I found it hilarious that to get there I had to produce lots of paper for the old school Pres and VP’s that I had to report to. What is great is that by the time I left the 1000 page manual for Customer Service Reps was no more, the books produced for each department to give them the what’s and wherefores for each client, and the numerous other reports and things were all online and available to whoever had security for them. The paper and emails produced dropped by a very significant amount. It was so fun to get them almost paperless.

  6. A smart phone is on my wish-list. We are changing service providers next year so I’m going to tie it all in then. I had enough reward points with my bank recently to get a free iPad, which was going to be my interim internet-on-the-run solution, but my daughters got hold of it and that was the last I saw of it.

    I think it would be very handy, I do a lot of running kids around to after school activities and often find myself waiting for things to finish up and it would be good use of time to do things like banking, grocery shopping etc, the mundane things.

  7. I use my phone as a camera on a daily basis. Something I see that I like, I snap a photo, something on sale, I snap a photo of the details. Something that some one else might like , they get a photo and a text message. Which made me think how my digital camera is never used and should I keep it. I will devote Sunday to more contemplation on the subject.
    Online storage and sharing; simply brilliant. My husband uses Dropbox for work and home, and my two sons use it as well. Will have to have Dropbox lessons myself.
    The hardest part about getting a smart phone is , which one. Batty life would be important. Being able to use it without a degree, very important. Not that my current phone is not smart, it is just not as smart as the latest generation. Cheers

    • Hi Wendy, sound to me from your comment that acquisition of stuff still features forefront in your mind my friend. You might want to contemplate that on Sunday too. 😉 I do know however that you tend to acquire secondhand and that is admirable so long as it stays at at least one in one out.

      Thank you so much for the plates. My old set is now in the donation box.

  8. I am sad to say that I do not have one of these yet, but I think that when my current phone no longer is useful, then I may just have to invest in one of these. I can see how it could be very useful especially for someone like me you always has a list of some sort going most of the time.

    • Hi Jen. Funny you should mention lists because I still have several old fashion notebooks left that I am trying to use up so I don’t yet get full use out of my list ap on my phone.

      Having a camera handy all the time without having to carry two items is an invaluable tool for me as a blogger.

      • I, as well, am trying to use up some notepads and notebooks that I have. I do see where it would be tremendously helpful in reducing the clutter in my purse 🙂 and would be much better than my current phone camera.

  9. I use mine for not only shopping lists, but also lists I what I already have so I don’t buy duplicates; measurements for clothes, furniture ect; books to read; items borrowed and from whom; library return dates; scheduling and calendars; cute things my kidlets said; contact info; I keep forgetting but I’d like to put my store loyalty cards on here, too. All these functions save a piece of paper (or more) and my sanity by having one less thing to remember where I stashed it — goodness knows I have a hard time remembering where I put this thing down last!

    • Hi Bergen, I can relate to your memory problem. I love having the camera for when I see things when out, like craft ideas etc. I kid myself that I will remember them when I get home. By taking a photo while on the spot I have a sure fire way of being able to refer back to it when I get home. It is easier than taking notes too.

    • Bergen, you have some really good uses for your phone. Way to go.

    • For loyalty cards, use KeyRing if you have an android. It works well.

  10. I love my smartphone, even though I barely use even a quarter of the original apps that came with it.
    It took me close to a year (longer really) to figure out what I really need & thus don’t need on my smartphone to make my life easier.
    Unfortunately I did end up buying some apps that later proved to be of no use to me & I ended up deleting them off the phone.
    But the apps I have now, while few, are super-duper important, relevant & used by me on a daily basis.
    It’s a force to be reckoned with & a worthwhile convenience having a smartphone.

    • Hi Jane, I don’t know if you are aware but my son had an accident that resulted in a serious brain injury a couple of years ago. He recovered amazingly well but has a slight short term memory issue. The smart phone became invaluable to him from that time onwards.

      • Oh wow! I do remember he had been in a motorcycling accident. Glad to hear he has recovered so very well! That can be a scary time for all involved. Brain injuries are a toughy because both motor & cognitive areas can be affected & can heal/recover at different times.
        Now more than ever, what with modern technology, can these type injuries see such positive outcomes & your son is an example of that!

  11. Am I alone is not knowing what a smart phone is? (You don’t need to tel me, I can always google if I need to know)
    I don’t know what an i pod or mp3 player is either…:)

    • A smartphone is a “new-fangled gizmo” as my Mom loves to say!
      The iPod & mp3 players are pretty much the same thing.
      Which are now housed within the new-fangled gizmo.
      Clear as mud! 😉

    • Good for you Katharine. Keep it that way and your life will be much simpler for it.

  12. Alas, I am provided with a BlackBerry from work, so I CANNOT justify the purchasing of an personal iPhone. Blackberrys are sort-of-smart, especially for emails, but they are no good for apps, or for old ladies with trouble seeing the qwerty keyboard…

    • I can relate to the small screen and keyboard issue. I love that I can talk my text messages into my phone which saves me from typing. Not appropriate to use among strangers though.

  13. I’m an avid reader of home magazines (Country Living, Ideal Home, etc, etc); in the past I used to tear our pages from these mags with inspirational homes/recipes/ideas, etc. Now I simply take a photo of the relevant page wih my smartphone and download the photos to several different folders on my computer; two advantages: 1) less pieces of paper (ie torn-out pages) cluttering my home; 2) the magazines remain in tact and I sell them on eBay!

    • Justine, I was waiting to check out at the grocery store when the lady in line behind me started snapping photo’s of a magazine she was flipping through. When we made eye-contact, I smiled as I knew what she was doing & she confirmed by saying she found a great recipe in the magazine but just couldn’t bear the thought of buying a $5 magazine just for 1 recipe.
      Then not a day later my neighbor asks if I know how to download the photos off her own phone & increase the size of the photo’s as well. I showed her how & all her phone photo’s were of recipes & story articles from books & magazines!
      I admit to snapping photo’s of products to later research & have even taken a picture of articles & recipes from magazines (my own thankyouverymuch) in lieu of ripping out the page, but who knew there was this whole underworld of recipe-photo-raiders!

      • ooo, I’ve never gone as far as to take photos of magazines that I don’t own!

        I do take photos of furniture, toys, clothes in stores so I can add them to my ‘house inspiration’ folder, look at them online, or even search for them on eBay, but I think that’s acceptable – isn’t it?!

  14. I am beginning to use my Kindle Fire like some of you are using your smart phones. But I can’t take photos with it and I don’t carry it everywhere. Hum!!! Maybe I need to get a smart phone at some point. I will have to give it some long term thought.

  15. I’m a day or two behind on getting caught up with your blog. Anyway, I’m still going to post my reply. WOWSA! Now this is great news on ideas for using smart phone(s) for communication, time saver, effective and efficient decluttering, etc. I’m truly impressed (I yet do not have one!!! However, am truly thinking of getting one). Totally awesome!

  16. Love the Eco tip! Alas, don’t worry, you haven’t fallen out of favour, I’m on holidays, currently in morocco! Trying not to reclutter… But I shall surely end up with some items that charm me eventually!

  17. A couple of great ideas.

    I more so use my laptop in combination with the smart phone, and without the two together, I would be nowhere near where I am in my de-cluttering process.

    One other great way I use my smartphone is to keep up with great supportive blogs, like this one, which I’m reading and responding to on my smartphone.

  18. I keep my medication list on my smartphone. Always handy for a trip to the dr. Many people have trouble with the names of their meds so this is an accurate way to record the info straight from the bottle.

    • Hi Carol and welcome to 365 Less Things. That is a smart use for your smartphone. I used mine this week to photograph a short recipe in a cookbook at the thrift store. I long ago decluttered all my cookbooks and have no intention of ever bringing another one back into my home. Being able to look them up on line or photograph this one means I can try them and then save them to a digital file or eliminate them as I see fit.


  1. […] Sending photos via messages ~ Every now and again I make a decision to declutter something that I think one or another of my friends might find useful. So I snap a photos of the item and send it via…More at Using your smart phone as a declutter tool […]