Appreciating the Journey by Peggy W.

You may have cleared a drawer, a room, or a house.  So, now when you look around you at that peaceful space you have created, there is a new quiet.  Maybe it feels a little uncomfortable because it was chaotic for so long.  Maybe it feels too sparse but you are not sure what it needs.   What it needs is appreciation!

Please first thank yourself for all your efforts, decisions, trips to the donation center.  Maybe think about the challenges you faced and how great it felt to find solutions.  Then you might think about…

  • …how the items you passed along will help others.
  • …how you won’t be leaving a mess for someone else to take care of when you are gone.
  • …how you got to the job before you could no longer do it.
  • …how you made your own life easier because now you know what you have and where it is and…
  • …how that can help you avoid buying duplicates. 

Maybe you have learned that you don’t need stuff in every flavor.  You may also have influenced someone else to think about their clutter.

Next you might think about how you can maintain your peaceful space.  Can you still shop?  I have cautiously added certain items to my household during my decluttering mission.  These items were more affordable to me because I haven’t been buying indiscriminately any more.  Before decluttering, I thought I had to have choices in everything – shampoos, body washes, linens, etc.  That created many space-hogging duplicates in my household, as well as a dent in my wallet!

Do you have the right habits to prevent future clutter?  You worked so hard to get your space in order.  Maybe you can think of manageable ways to keep it that way.  I run around before bedtime, putting things where they belong.  I also try to remember if I’m going up or down the stairs to take something with me that needs to go up or down.  I shop cautiously after thinking about my needs and wants.  I get very specific in my mind about what qualities I’m looking for in an item.  These habits work for me, but might not be the right ones for you.

Whenever you reach your maintenance phase, it’s time to take all that time you save by not shopping and not searching for missed belongings and do something fun!  A lot of minimalism writers envision learning a language or a musical instrument or writing a novel.  That is just way over the top for me.  I’m thinking more “Gee, I could actually sit and look out the window… watch the squirrels and birds… drink my coffee slowly… maybe I will work on the budget later”.  (I like working on the budget).  Then I am sitting in my peaceful space without a pile of chores related to stuff.

What will you do with all the time you are saving?

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. Read! I’m not done yet, but we got book nooks set up and cleared of other stuff, and now I sit and read. It’s cozy. (And helping with the continuing decluttering, because I rarely keep books when I’m done with them…and if I do, I have half a shelf empty waiting for them. Hopefully by the time I fill that, I’ll have cleared another shelf and can use that one for keepers 🙂

    I hope to write and garden more as I get more time, but for now, I have a book nook and I am called to read.

    • Hi Kayote,

      I love your book nooks! And I like to garden, too, especially the weeding (really!)… We have some things in common… (decluttering too!) 🙂

      • Kayote, your comment reminded me of a quote I love:

        Oh, for a book
        And a cozy nook,
        And, oh, for a quiet hour!

        Enjoy your reading! It is one of my favorite things, too, but it seems to have escaped me in my current life (that has nothing to do with clutter).

  2. I have more time for my kids!

    • Hi Andréia,

      I’m having more time for my grandchildren 🙂 I’m slowly learning how to play 🙂

  3. I have more time for reading, crafts, going places with friends.

  4. Nice post.
    I have more time for grandkids, friends, yard & gardening.

    I have to admit it’s a weekly struggle with people wanting to give me things, mostly free little things they pick up at fairs, garden shows etc. I finally learned to just say no!

    • Hi Calla,

      I’m glad you have learned to say “no” so that you don’t have to deal with clutter and guilt and quibbling over decisions later 🙂

  5. Hi Peggy! this is a great post! I’ve noticed that when I get a newly decluttered space, it seems so nice and empty for awhile. Then, even though I’ve not added anything back, it begins to feel cluttered again. I know then it’s getting to be almost time for the next round for that area. My standards of clutteredness (I know, not a word!) have changed, and I want more empty space.

    • Hi Deanna,

      I love that your standards of clutteredness have changed (haha I like that word too). I feel the same way, and am trying to see my spaces with fresh eyes…. Is the area spare enough or should I go further? 🙂

      • Deanna, I loved your phrase about your standard of clutterness having changed! I was thinking about that very thing before I read this post, but not in your words. My friend who visited brought me 3 issues of “country” type magazines when she was here. I was glancing at them today when I took a break from paperwork. They were full of primitives, antiques, and glassware (Jadite, too, Colleen!) and all the things I love and that my garage is full of for a yardsale. I actually caught myself thinking that some of the places pictured were cluttered. But, even if I loved the look, I was thinking, “boy, that would be hard to dust!”. Then it hit me how my thinking has changed!!!!

        • Hi Brenda,

          All those staged “interiors” photos look cluttered to me, even the “minimalist” ones! I agree that it has to do with our new thinking 🙂

          • I find even the afters in before and after decluttering pictures are too cluttered for me. And a glance at any kind of home decor picture is always far too much. Makes me want to get rid of more stuff. I have to really search for it now!

            • Hi Janetta,

              I feel the same when I see “after” or home decor photos 🙂

              I am currently decluttering my younger daughters room because she just got married and left home. (I got her permission to do this). My own stuff, though, I do have to really look for something to part with 🙂

            • Home decor photos are the same for me…too much stuff. My home still has too much stuff also…but slow and steady wins the race.

              • Hi Deanna,

                One of my favorite quotes is from Kim Woodland at Extra Organized (her 7/1/2013 post):

                “Let’s set our homes up the way we want them; then leave them that way.

                To achieve this, we likely need to subtract rather than add, so it shouldn’t be expensive.

                Then let’s allow the living we do in our homes to be the decoration.”

    • Colleen Madsen

      I found myself thinking the same way at times during my decluttering journey, and again now that we are in a smaller places and the empty spaces no longer exist because the disappeared with the large home. So like most of you I am always on the lookout for something else to declutter.
      However I think it might be a little unhealthy to over obsess on this, it could become the opposite of hoarding, if there is such a thing. Like a OCD of decluttering if that is even possible. It would be sad to think that one could be in a permanent state of thinking their home is cluttered and never being satisfied that the job is done. In a nutshell “Simplifying isn’t meant to complicate ones life.”.

      • Colleen – what you are talking about is called OCD Austerity. Its a real thing. I know someone who had it.

        • uh oh I think I have this! LOL I’m nowhere near “done” or minimal but I can’t stop obsessing about it either 🙂

      • Yes there is, just google OCD minimalism, it’s a serious, mostly unrecognised, problem. People get rid of practically all their possessions, needed or not, to ease the pain. I always feel very good dropping off more stuff and it does give me a high, but I don’t think I’m there yet and don’t think I ever will be.

        BTW I am now at 1909 items (or bags of items) gone! I have my eye on more, but my DH has invited Justin Case to stay, and he reckons if we’ve got space for it, and might need it, then it should stay! However, he has improved tremendously and two days ago, completely unprompted, told me I could get rid of a big, brass eagle of his which I loathed. Yesterday it was gone and we got a bit of cash!

        • Hi Janetta,

          That is funny, your DH inviting Justin Case to stay. Make sure he knows there is an expiration date to his visit though 🙂

          That is great about your DH being willing to part with the eagle, especially since you loathed it. I have been successful in helping my DH unload a couple of things like that, but it was slow 🙂

        • Hi Janetta, it was slack of me not to just Google Minimalism OCD, but it hardly surprises me that it is actually a thing. I have had several comments here at my blog that concern me when people are a little too over anxious about getting rid of more and more when I know that they must me quite uncluttered by that point.
          Then of course I also am suspicious about those who I know have been decluttering for a long time with great success who I am pretty sure keep adding more stuff as they go and then realising pretty quickly that they didn’t really need it. Decluttering to just shop for more and hardly making progress is not healthy either. For the person or the environment.

  6. A+

  7. The points regarding not leaving a mess behind for others to deal with when you are gone, and paring down while you are still physically able to do so — part and parcel of the same goal, really — are extremely important for each reader to consider. My elderly mother has always been a packrat, and I am an only child. Getting her pared down enough to fit in a one – bedroom retirement apartment took every moment of my spare time for eight months, and I was still 7 able to prevent her from taking every single item that she could fit in there. When she passes on, I will face another massive clean up and decluttering when I should be grieving, and doing an average clearing of an average one bedroom apartment — a task which takes perhaps a few weeks for the average person with a reasonable amount of “stuff.” Clutter and disorder is not just unhealthy for YOU, it is a terrible “inheritance” for your family. Going through your things after you pass on should bring your family HAPPY memories, not the burden of unfinished business and a massive clean up. Please give extra serious consideration to this if one or more of your children has a bad back, joint issues, oldest allergy or other health issues which may be exacerbated by your clutter.

    • Hi Dez,

      You make a lot of good points here. I think you could write an entire post on this and surrounding issues because you have experience with it. I have been fortunate so far because my (now deceased) mother sold her house to move in with my brother and he still lives there. My MIL will leave an awful mess because she kept everything and is now physically unable to do much. I’m sorry to hear that you have been so burdened with someone elses clutter <3

    • Colleen Madsen

      Like Peggy suggested, why don’t you write about you experience with this issue and submit it to me for publication. It may be all the inspiration someone needs to make the effort to clear out their stuff and not be a burden later on a loved one. Even if you only helped on person that would be a good thing.

    • Hi Dez! My mother had 2 strokes. The second one was massive and left her bedfast, paralyzed on one side. She could do nothing for herself. During that time I began to declutter her stuff, and it took months. I was so thankful that I did because, when she died, I could mourn her loss instead of just being angry at her.

      • Oh Deanna,

        I’m sorry for your loss <3

        It is good that you were wise enough to declutter while you had time…

      • Colleen Madsen

        That was very smart of you Deanna. When I read the sad stories about having to clean up the mess after a loved one has passed I often think it is a shame that one almost has to postpone the grieving period until the the miserable task of setting things right has taken place. And maybe, as you say, even be postponed until to anger at the situation has settled as well.

    • Dez, I have to say a big AMEN to your post! My parents were dairy farmers. My father passed away a few years ago, and my mother is 82 now. When she’s gone, we’re going to have a TON of work to do.

      Being from the Depression era, my parents kept anything and everything that might possibly have a use some day.

      Before we can sell the property, we have a very overstuffed farmhouse to clear out, along with the main barn, a smaller-but-still-large storage barn/shed, the building that was used as the farm market, along with the remnants of several greenhouses.

      We’ll have about 50 years’ worth of “stuff” to get rid of, and just the thought of it overwhelms me. It’s going to take MONTHS of full-time labor to get this taken care of.

      I’ve lived decluttered for many years, and will do everything in my power not to leave a huge amount of work like that for our children to have to deal with.

      • Hi Becky,

        Don Aslett (humorously) claims that farmers keep more stuff around than anyone, I guess because they might need that wire or wheel or string to fix something?

        I feel for you, facing that task. Would your mother allow you to begin a slow declutter now?

        I am not all decluttered yet but definitely working on it because I don’t want to leave a big mess for my daughters. I’m mucking out my younger daughters room right now because she (gave her permission) just left home after getting married. Hers is the smallest bedroom in the house and it’s already taken me a week. She left it in pretty good shape, too. Still, I’m not finished… So, I know that what you are facing is going to take a lot of time….

      • Hi Becky, I can understand why farmer tend to keep “useful” stuff around. I would prefer to mend things than have to replace them but that list is limited for me. A farmer on the other hand would have no end of stuff to mend. However it is a shame when the time of usefulness runs out and the stuff ends up lingering for someone else to deal with. I don’t envy you the task you have in front of you.

  8. Oops, typo. I meant to say that even after months of decluttering her home to move into an apartment, I was still UNABLE to prevent my mother from filling her one – bedroom apartment to the gills. Obviously, not “7” able. Sorry!

  9. By using the slow method of decluttering can make great strides over time. If you’ve been reading my comments over the last 4 years or so, you will know that Ian was terrified when I began decluttering. Two back surgeries, one heart attack and a move later he is really into the game. Having recently moved into our newly-built house and dealing with the junk we moved with us, he is now looking forward to our NEXT move, another downsize, and is gung-ho to get on with the decluttering in advance of the crisis point. The other day he told me he’d found a magnifying lamp he’d been hanging onto forever in case he needed it. He has now decided to let it go and get a new one when (if) he needs it. Playing Devil’s Advocate I asked him what he’d do if we couldn’t buy one when he wanted one and he stated emphatically, “Then we’ll do without!” Wow.

    • Hi Wendy B,

      You must be a marvelous mentor to have your husband on point like this 🙂

      My husband is starting to come around but slowly 🙂

      • Yes, Peggy. Slowly is how it works. Just keep being open about what you are doing, involve him by asking his opinion, occasionally ask him to get rid of something or point out a benefit of being less cluttered (like not spending half an hour looking for his keys) and he may eventually buy in. Even if he doesn’t, YOUR stuff and YOUR space will be easier to deal with. There are occasions now when Ian is the one who wants to get rid of something and I’m the one who holds back!

    • Now that is progress Wendy. I remember only too well how reluctant Ian was when you first started commenting here. It is a delight to see how far he has come and a joy to have witnessed your journey from afar. Well done both of you.

  10. After many years of being a ballet-mum I have ‘retired’. My youngest has gone off to University. I have been often asked what would I do with my time instead? I would reply “Nothing”. I’m happy to let my new interest or past-time find me when the time is right. In the mean time I am enjoying not having pick up/drop off schedules taking priority, not having to keep an eye on the clock. And I can do this in a (mostly) clutter free home, that doesn’t take much to keep tidy.

    I’d say I’m on maintenance, but at the same time, life changes and that what is required and no longer required will evolve. So it is a bit like the control-gates that were on a river that I grew up near. The water flow needed to be managed and so there were these massive gates that were closed and opened during the day. Things will seem empty for a while and its slim pickings some mini missions. Then all of sudden things in the donate box seem to start filling up again, and it gains momentum and I feel like I can’t keep up with the drop offs to goodwill. Then things dry up again and the cycle begins again.

    • Hi Moni,

      I’m sitting here nodding my head at several of your points. I am half in the “do nothing” with my extra time phase and half in the surge of going through my recently married daughters things to donate (she gave her permission). I made a big donation today (her stuff), so that felt good. We told her to take anything she wanted from the kitchen or related. She took the breadmaker, crockpot, coffee grinder, water filter pitcher (& extra filters). That cleared space in the kitchen and the garage. Now we are thinking we need a replacement crockpot for the chili my husband makes. He also bought a Ninja because he liked hers. If it turns out it does “smoothies” well, we may be able to part with 2 blenders! There are a lot of ebbs and flows here 🙂

      • Hi Peggy, ebs and flows are always a concern when it comes to decluttering. I guess, for me, that is because part of the idea of decluttering is to realise you never really needed all that stuff, including gadgets, in the first place. To declutter things only to replace them with something similar is OK in it self but usually only when the items no longer fit your needs and you require an upgrade. My experience is though that the upgrades often have their downsides as well and end up going in the unused pile soon enough. That, of course, isn’t reality for all upgrades but can be the case for many.
        That being said, my eco friendly side just doesn’t sit comfortable with getting rid of perfectly good items only to replace them with something very similar. And I can’t even say they I am not guilty of this myself. Right now I have every intention of getting rid of my oven to replace it with a self cleaning one because the one I have has issues the bug the hell out of me. I keep putting off this change for two reasons, I find it hard to justify replacing something that still can perform its main function and that I fear the new one, with its extra function and large price tag, might not have the same long life span of the basic model I already have. My last two washing machines are proof of that possibility.

  11. Hi Colleen,

    We did buy a crockpot to replace the one our daughter took. It has already served up some vegetarian chili 🙂

    The Ninja made a nice smoothie tonight so I think it is safe to pass along the blenders. It also does hummus well. It’s a lot quicker than the blender, which has to run about 10 minutes to make a smoothie. That is why my husband wanted it, he saw our daughter using it and how fast & easy it was. Since he is our “cook”, I defer to him in all kitchen decisions 🙂

    I think that you should get a self cleaning oven. You have been battling oven grime long enough! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Hi Peggy, yes there is nothing like efficient appliance and gadgets. You will probably offset the purchase with less carbon emissions in no time with the time/electricity it saves doing the job 10 x faster. And I went to look at the ovens today.