A place for everything and…

One thing that came through in the comments to yesterday’s post was…

“A place for everything and everything in its place.”

The thing is that there is always a logical place for everything within a household but if those places are jam packed with stuff, putting everything in its place can become a nightmare.

Who hasn’t, at some stage in life, had the plastics cupboard avalanche. Or the overstuffed linen closet where every time you pull out a towel you end up with three or more at your feet. Or the utensils drawer that you have to rustle everything around in order to get it shut. I know I have. Although it never stopped me from putting everything it its place it sure made it harder to do so.

People tend to love variety, resulting in them continually buying new stuff whether they need it or not. What many don’t realise is the how much time can be wasted in the choosing and in the difficulty housing them. When housing the stuff gets too difficult the mess begins to spill out into the living areas of the house. Baskets full of washing while the closet is still stuffed to overflowing. Stuff cluttering up kitchen benches making it difficult to prepare food, tops of desks without an inch of the surface showing. Books, magazines and newspapers, intended to be read, heaped into piles on the floor rather than neatly stored on shelves. Expensive cars parked in the street because the garage is full of stuff… I think you get the picture. There is no longer room for everything and the excess is in places it ought not to be.

If you find yourself at a blog like mine then you have come to the realisation that something has to give. You either resign yourself to live amongst the stuff, but clearly you aren’t happy to do that or you wouldn’t be here. Or alternatively you do something about it. The first thing is to resist the temptation to acquire. Meanwhile you can begin to reduce what you already have.

When they say money can’t by happiness, they mean the stuff you buy with money won’t give you sustainable joy. Having a comfortable,  healthy, inviting, easy to maintain home to be proud of also won’t guarantee happiness but it sure seems more likely to lead you in that direction. Having a place for everything and everything easily put in its place is a nice way to live. So why not give it a go.

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter a couple of things from a category that you have too many of. Something that might take years to ever need replacing. Too many towels, too many shoes, too many sheets, to many crockery items…

Eco Tip for the Day

Save electricity by not turning on electrical appliances, like irons, hair straighteners etc, too long before you use them and by not leaving them on while you decide to take a break during the task.

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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Continue reading with these posts:

  • Mini Mission ~ Friday 22Dec2017 Declutter a couple of old shabby shoes that you no long choose to use.
  • Mini Mission ~ Wednesday 20Dec2017 Declutter by recycling some items. That mound ofused takeout containers, old newspapers and magazines, paperwork that needs shredding, glass jars you set aside in case you have a use for […]
  • Mini Mission Monday ~ Memorabilia Items Mini Mission Monday is about finding ten minutes a day to declutter. To make it easy for you, each Monday I set seven declutter missions, one for each day of the week for you to follow. It […]
About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. Colleen, I haven’t had to deal with an avalanche in quite some time but I sure remember those days. And it was plastic and linens and magazines. I’m so very glad those days are over. I am always ready to cheer on others who want to get there. It is so worth the work.

  2. Nothing drives me more whacko than knowing I have a specific thing, but not being able to find that thing! I try to put things back in their proper home, but hubby isn’t always great at that. When I wander around the house, if I do spot something out of place, I will grab it to put away in the right place.

    Plastics can sure get way out of hand. Fortunately our recycling place takes a large variety, like sour cream or margarine tubs, so not much goes in the landfill. Plus, I always keep some on hand just in case I get a wild hair to paint something.

    • Ah Michelle, you comment reminds me of something that I couldn’t find last week. The ridiculous thing is it was where it belonged. I had changed its home a while back and it is an item that doesn’t get used frequently and I had forgotten where I had put it. The doubly ridiculous things is that I did the same thing the last time I used it. Perhaps it is time I stopped changing its place. Silly me. If I have the same problem next time I go to use it, which won’t be that long away, I will consider getting tested for dementia.

      Good for you repurposing your plastic. I do that also. Yesterday I bought mean in bulk (not something I usually do just a trial run) I took most of my plastics, including the odd takeout container, to pack it all into the freezer. My excess plastics aren’t so excess anymore.

      • Colleen that is hilarious! I have done that too, thinking I’m so smart, coming up with a better place to keep something and then forgetting where I put it! LOL Yep, one more of that and it’s off to the testing facility for you!

      • Colleen, last week something got “missing” for the first time in probably years. It was a pastry brush (the only one left at our home). Boyfriend and I searched everywhere (literally! Even in the bathroom!) and he already teased me about having gotten rid of the other three pastry brushes years ago and how it would have been okay to save one extra. In the end I went for applying the chocolate with a knife instead which was just as well for the kind of cake I was baking, but still I needed to find that brush again. Well, yesterday I found that brush in exactly the spot where it belongs. I really don’t know how we could have overseen it in there, but somehow we have opened and closed that (not overstuffed!) drawer several times without seeing that brush. How strange!
        However, it just proves that going out and buying something to replace a missing item is almost always a bad idea, ’cause that thing will turn up again soon.

        • Hi Sanna! Is this truly you? Sanna B.? (This is Robin! Original owner of Fabric ATCs which you took over for me). If you can retrieve my email address, please write! (annielittlewolfstudio@comcast.net)
          Regarding your post, I just bought a used copy of Laurel’s Kitchen (the original one) – because I can’t find my own copy. It is somewhere in our “library” – which is now covered in books we just tossed in there. Too tired to attempt to find a place on the shelves for them, we decided to do it “later” – infamous Later.

  3. Colleen,

    Truer words were never spoken _ “The first thing is to resist the temptation to acquire”.

    Although I am continually donating and going through my possessions, I still have a problem with bringing more stuff in (wants, not needs). My favorite past time with my sister is eating lunch out and shopping, Unfortunately, my desire to stop purchases during the Christmas holidays is now waning and I find my self purchasing fashion accessories once again. Is there truly any help for me?! I have also noticed that when someone else mentions an item they have purchased it plants an idea in my head that I too should make that purchase. Still…..I’m trying.

    P.S. I don’t have credit card debt but still, it is unneccessary purchases.

    • Hi Anna, we all have a weaknesses and if yours is just confined to fashion accessories you aren’t doing too bad. There is help for you but only you can provide it. Try resisting occasionally and then more frequently and you might slowly desensitise yourself to the desire without feeling like you are depriving yourself too much.

      I still have a weakness for crafting tools, which I admit I still buy. I limit myself to ones that I know I will use over and over and over. And since I am not selling my craft items I feel someone justified in increasing the variety of these items. I do however limit my materials to only the excess I still have on hand unless I have a special order to fulfil. As a result my craft items are still reducing even though I am adding useful small tools. I also donate any paper offcuts I don’t use to a mens home where they enjoy doing a little craft every now and again.

  4. It had been very hard to stick to not buying new stuff at first (and I didn’t do that well, but at least I managed that more stuff went out than in) , but then I was on a rather rigid shopping break for one or two years – getting rid of so much stuff made me wonder in the stores “when will I get rid of this?” each time I was tempted by some nice new thing. Also I tried to think more of how much damage buying just for fun does to the environment and tried to stick to buying used or ecological and fair products. In the last few months I’ve been “giving in” on the shopping urge much more often, however, I’m shopping a lot smarter now, things that are really comfortable or easy to use and likely to be used. Now that I don’t own that much excess any longer, things actually do wear out and need replacement and shopping for a replacement (or something else to fill a need), can be a lot of fun, too!
    I’m also taking my time browsing. For example for about two years I drooled about a yellow sweater – and I tried on a lot of yellow sweaters over that time! – but I couldn’t find one in just the right shade of yellow (it’s a difficult colour to wear and just a specific shade looks good on me) at a decent price which I really liked (some had strange details). Finally, last december I saw one just like I wanted and got it. I wear it a lot now and think it’s a great addition to my wardrobe, brightening my winter days and a fun accessoire for cool summer nights. Of course I also got rid of another sweater (and a bunch of t-shirts) that sadly had worn out. I’m happy I waited so long with that purchase until the perfect one showed up. I wouldn’t have loved another one just as much and I probably wouldn’t have worn out that other sweater had I just added something right away. I’m just as happy about it now as I would have been two years back – or maybe even more! 😉
    This is just to say that in fact it’s possible to have fun shopping even when one is more pared down, and it’s probably better fun, too. Just like going to see an anticipated movie at the cinema versus flicking through random TV programs.

    • I think the same Sanna when I am shopping….how long before I no longer need this?
      Making more specific purchases and waiting for items to wear out, does make shopping more purposeful rather than recreational.
      I am currently sorting through a pile of paperwork and items that have no real purpose or place.
      Warranties for pedestal fans, maps of places I probably will never visit again, health insurance brochures, a broken gold bracelet, loyalty cards, dog vaccination certificates, bank statements. As always, just writing this down has helped me decide what to do. A pile has been made for thrift shop. The out of date discount petrol vouchers binned. The keys attached to a lanyard. The loose coins places in a tin. I photographed a recipe a friend gave me that I have not got around to cooking. I also photographed a plan with measurements for my kitchen bench tops . That’s two pieces of paper binned. The pain tablets can return to the medicine cupboard along with the dental floss.
      I still have two metal gizmos for removing my sim from my iPhone and an old SIM card, Souvenir matches, one mitten, a paper fan, the fittings for my bike basket, a tiny padlock, a bag of buttons and several pens to put back in the drawer. Does anyone else have a bunch of random stuff , they can’t part with, but will need one day? And where do you put it?

      • Wendy F – I had a small plastic container entitled “Random Stuff”. I go back thru it every six months or so. I saw an interview with Ryan Nicodemus of The Minimalists on Midway Simplicity – and he has a 20/20 rule. If something can be replaced for under $20 and under 20 minutes to do so, its out. I like it and have tried to adopt that too.

    • That is how I look at it too Sanna. When one only imbibes in an enjoyable activity in short bursts on a rare occasion it is enjoyed and appreciated all the more for its scarcity. Like a fancy dinner, a vacation, chocolate…

  5. It’s a funny thing the shopping urge – having not spent much for ages I’ve had a bit of an urge going on. I’ve bought a new outfit for work and 5 books eek and here am I thinking that’s a bit excessive, lol. Still I’m going to go through my remaining books to see if am ready to let others go to recompense.
    As for a place for everything and everything in it’s place: I did take 6 carrier bags of my husband’s books to the local book charity shop yesterday…woohoo …but this has not created more shelf space, just less piles on the floor 😀

  6. Yes I have been on the receiving end of many a cupboard avalanche. Not in the last few years. I used to find multiple items ie scissors or ???? as I’d ‘lose’ a pair in the chaos, and despite a good jumble-hunt/rummage would give up and buy another pair.

    I am convinced that plastic-ware breeds as it took 4 major culls over the last few years to get it under control and possibly I could have done with keeping an extra couple of one particular size, but first I will check there aren’t any in the freezer or being used for other purposes around the house. Or if my son has ‘borrowed’ any for his flat.

    • I’m with you on the breeding theory Moni – I swear I haven’t bought anymore plastic storage boxes for the kitchen, but I’m struggling to fit them again into the section of the cupboard they are allowed.

    • Hi Moni, my linen closet was my worse culprit early in our married life. My husbands Grandma used to crochet around towels and washers and we received them as gifts from here on every occasion going. It was only about six years ago that the last one finally wore out. (She has been gone a while.) Now my lined closet has only three small shelves of linen, towels and blankets.

      And I know what you mean about the son “borrowing” stuff. Mine were even less subtle than that. Because I am the declutterer my kids would just say ~ “Don’t you want to get rid of this?” ~ an many a time I just let them have it because I didn’t really need it.

      • Colleen – aaahhhh – reverse psychology – don’t these kids know that we’re onto them?

        • Hi Moni, mine aren’t fooled because they also know how to say no. I have taught them too well in some areas. Because they now the benefits I have from decluttering they don’t want stuff that might just clutter up their homes. My son particularly is fully aware of this. Having moved in with a mother and daughter he is constantly trying to motivate them to declutter. He, like his mother, likes space and order. Although sometimes that isn’t a good thing because the clutter can drive you crazy when there is nothing you can do about it. 😉

  7. Sometime back, Colleen asked about some of the benefits experienced with decluttering – and for me it has been wonderful to acquire more space in rooms and cupboards. Along with that space comes rethinking where I can store items in more helpful or logical places.

    So now, sometimes I find it a challenge to remember the new place. Recently I moved the place where I store a small hand-vac to a closet inside the kitchen where I am likely to use it often. Previously, it was stored in our garage. It’s going to take some time to break my automatic brain habit of heading to the garage, getting there and (now) wondering what I am doing there!

    • Hi Vicki K, I know only too well what you are experiencing here. Did you read my comment to Michelle above. I moved my rotory trimmer some time back and it took me a week to find it. It was only lucky I stumbled upon it in the end when looking for something else. I kicked myself when I realised that I had moved it there. I suppose a good way to avoid wasted time in this situation is to make a list of items’ new locations as you move them. That way when you can’t find them you can consult the list to find out where they are. Of course there is the problem of forgetting where you put the list. Ha ha! 😉

  8. You’re totally right. I have way too much stuff right now that it doesn’t all have a place. That is something I’d like to achieve in the future though 🙂

    • I am sure you will get there in the end Shoeaholicnomore. It is just a matter of time and patience. Just enjoy the fact that you are making progress in the meantime. That one thing I revelled in during my decluttering process and still do. Enjoy the process. I am doing this right now with the alterations I am having done to my kitchen. I am happy to go one step at a time and I am sure it will all come together in the end.

  9. I am definitely a believer of this. I can find most anything day or night because I know where it belongs and it is there.