Be Enlightened

I received a comment from Denise recently from which I have included an excerpt below.

Denise ~ Thank you Colleen, yes I did and it feels so good to get rid of the stuff. Its amazing no matter how many times you do it you still find more.

Quite often readers write in saying that they are surprised that they are still managing to find things to declutter. The readers that say this have usually been at their decluttering mission for quite a while and are expecting it to finally come to an end, or at least to the maintenance phase. However they continue to find things to declutter that have been there all along.

Like I said in my response to Denise ~ “I don’t really consider it still finding more. I consider it becoming more enlightened about what I need, what I want and what I don’t.”

Instead of being amazed, disappointed or perhaps even a little horrified ~ like some readers seem to be ~ I simply feel pleased that I have come to a point where I am ready to let go of yet more items. Admittedly I do find the odd thing that I have just overlooked but for the most part they are things that up until that point I still wanted them around.

So am I disappointed to still be finding things three and a half years into my mission? Heck no! I am just glad that the grasp that possessions have on me is lessening more and more each day.

As I become more enlightened, the burden of my possessions lightens.

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 agree completely! I have been surprised that after two years of decluttering one thing a day that I have anything else left. I agree that your ability to let go increases as you let go of things and that is why there seems to be more to let go of. Life is full of change and it is good to change along with it. The nice thing about doing a little at a time is that it doesn’t take over your life or affect it much when you focus on one thing a day or one shelf a day. You can just put it on the back burner until the next day after you have done something small. It gets done a little at a time!

  2. I know there are more things in our home that I can get rid of and I believe I’ll get to it, slowly but surely. However I am being more judicious in what I actually bring into our home, so that is a good thing.

  3. Yep, Colleen, you are right. We just keep finding things.

  4. You’re so right Colleen. Just this weekend I have been amazed that I have gone from ‘I am so on top of this’ to ‘why do I feel I still have so much (too much)’ and it is this very reason, so thanks for reminding me. The amount of things I own hasn’t changed, my perspective on it has.
    A few more small kitchen implements have gone into the charity box.

  5. This is so true!!! I have been decluttering for quite a while now. I did a big decluttering a few years ago. I have adopted a “one in, one out approach” but I still find a lot of things to declutter. Of course, now my decluttering is more aimed. I know where the clutter is (the bookcase I keep in my closet… 😀 ). Some drawers, some shelves inside my big wardrobes, home office…I am working on it. Sometimes I am disheartened, but it is just for a moment. I then look around at my progressing and ongoing decluttering and I greatly appreciate how I view stuff now and my own house. Still, I do have to work on my patience level, because I want things gone now. 😀 😀 😀

  6. It is amazing — but there is always more to declutter. I took a box of “stuff” to a charity location on Saturday. It is Monday, and I have already started a new box of “stuff,” and am thinking about Christmas decorations that need to be decluttered. It’s a never-ending project, but a project that makes me feel “lightened and free” when I do it — even if it’s just a few items.

  7. I’m glad others r finding this a long process. I’ve been decluttering our “junk” room, after downsizing, for 3 years. Boxes and boxes have gone to Goodwill and it’s still not where I want it to be…a functioning guest room. Kudos to all who are reaching their goal. I know I have a long way to go to even fit a bed in there. I realize though, after 3 years, I miss nothing I’ve gotten rid of so, that’s a good thing. My main rooms though, where I actually do my living are looking good. Much less “stuff”, and I don’t miss it either. MUCH easier to clean. Good luck!

  8. I agree. I think that the more a person lets go of, the more they are willing to part with because it becomes easier as time goes on. A person’s thinking changes too, so, what used to be a necessity is no longer looked at as such.

  9. It’s a never-ending battle for me, but at least I’m fighting the good fight!

    Anyway, Colleen, the real reason I’m back here is to tell you that I just nominated your blog for a Liebster Award in my latest post today, which is here:
    (Don’t worry, I didn’t know what a Liebster Award was either, until I received one!) You can also read the Related Articles at the bottom of the post, which list the rules of the Liebster Award. (My own post was already getting long and I didn’t want to clog it up with rules, of all things!)

    I hope you’ll enjoy this exercise as much as I did!

  10. Hey Colleen,

    long time no see… I just wanted to let you know that I am indeed reading all your posts, and of course the ones from your great guest writers.

    I havent had much time to comment, as I have been busy with life (summer, new jobs, holidays, relationships, etc.) Sadly, life was so busy, it took my focus from my decluttering efforts as well. But as you know, before that I did reach a decluttered state of my home I was quite happy with – and then I started to bring stuff back in. Sometimes due to new needs (nice clothes for work, f.e.), but sometimes because I could get it for free.

    three lessons I learned:
    1) decluttering is like driving a bike – once you know how, you will never ever unlearn it. As soon as I noticed that I brought things in, which I didnt use, I had no problems to throw them out again.
    2) both ways work for me: steady everyday and the pull it all out and declutter in a rush. the steady process was a great way to get rid of the not so obvious stuff. But once in a while its great to tackle the areas that require decluttering on a regular basis (clothes, shoes, bathroom supplies, spices, stationery, etc.). My latest achievement was to get rid of my really worn out socks and underwear. I do have to get new stuff in though.
    3) as soon as I identify an object as clutter, it needs to go out immediately. I have been “decluttering” by collecting my items in a certain spot in my flat and it turned straight into clutter again. I had a bag of clothes for more than 6 months standing in my bedroom. the listing on ebay only goes for really worthy items, everything else I need to donate… the for free box placed on my street proved itself the most reliable way of getting rid of things in no time whatsoever.

    I am looking forward to winter, I will spend much more time indoors and then get a new grip on decluttering. and hopefully find time to read and comment here more often as well .

  11. This is so true. I’m constantly amazed that I am still going with my decluttering. I think we all set out to do try and achieve a basic declutter but as we go along we start to realise just how much stuff we have and how much we don’t really need. For example one of my early decluttering goals was to have my bookcases looking tidy. We had 3 big bookcases and 3 small bookcases in the house at the time and as a book lover I didn’t think that was excessive. We no longer have those bookcases but I’d have thought that was highly impossible at the outset. Initially I decided to donate excess books to a charity book sale, then my kids wanted books that they’d outgrown passed on. I had an e-reader by then. Then I decided that I should control the amount of clutter coming into the house by asking for gifts to be in the form of kobo vouchers so I could replace some of my favourite books with a digital version, this proved to be a very popular option and so the book versions were passed on. This had made significant gaps in two of the bookcases over a year or two, so I combined the two into one bookcase and got rid of the other bookcase. At this time my daughter decided to redecorate her bedroom and dragged her small bookcase into the garage as she wanted a more modern and minimalist look, and the other two kids quickly followed. More time went by and gaps kept appearing on the bookcases and then we were down to one bookcase and eventually we only partially filled that one. The remaining books were then relocated to a shelf in a cupboard in the garage and the last bookcase left the house.

    I think decluttering sort of just dominos and opens your mind to various possibilities. The other day I was thinking I could probably fit everything from the four drawers on my computer desk into one drawer, which then got me to thinking that the desk doesn’t really go with the new furniture that is in that room. Next I got to be thinking I would like to relocate my office desk to elsewhere in the house – I’m using my iphone and ipad more and more these days. I forsee that eventually I won’t need a pc but for now we have a working pc and a desk that is a good size especially as I still have two kids at High School and I have yet to tackle the project of finishing digitising all our photos which I imagine would be easier on a desk set up. I’m thinking the garage could be an alright place to relocate the home office to but I’d have to eliminate either the spare fridge and freezer (which is doable) or the two cupboards (which is also possible). Heck I might just eventually eliminate all of them. So it went from “I could probably fit everything into one drawer if I wanted” to entertaining the possibility of getting rid of a desk and computer, a fridge and a freezer and two freestanding cupboards.

    • Moni, that is is what I like about decluttering. The further along you get the more you see what you can do and the more you declutter. I love your example about the computer desk that leads to more to declutter.

      • Deb J – I think deep down we have all seen a picture in a house magazine or been to a showroom or stayed at a hotel and wished we lived like that all the time, but we don’t think it is possible with day to day living. I think what we do here at 365 is constantly challenge the amount of stuff that we can comfortably live with and experiment with different methods to see how much we do or don’t need. If I’d seen a photo of my house now today, three years ago, I’d never have believed it was possible and that it was beyond my wildest hopes. I look at my house daily and still see ‘stuff’ that could/should be eliminated, some has a timeline/expiry date attached to it, some is on my to-do list for the short term.

        • Moni, you are right. I think we have to take it slow because we can’t see the end for the in between. I know that many I have helped start on this road could not imagine being without ____. Now they are not only without it but many more things like it.

  12. This is my second year–of keeping a record, at least. We take something to the thrift shop just about every trip to town–7- 10 days apart. I think the longer you declutter the questions begin to change, and like Moni said the possible solutions change, too. At first it is just what excess can I get rid of, and later it becomes what would work best and be most useful and what changes would I need to make to do this. Having less sewing material makes it a lot easier to find either what I am looking for or what is suitable for what I want to make. Simplifying our cleaning supplies means they take up less space, too. Sometimes the question is Why is that still here?

  13. The title of this post suits my day, today. I’ve been following your blog for a few months now. I’m in a funny state of decluttering. I recently separated from my husband and am starting again. So i have things coming in and stuff going out. This wk I picked up some of my belongings from the family home. I decluttered about half of it. Then I got to wondering why I had hoarded so much stuff when married. My husband was abusive, controlling and unemotional. I think I hung onto things for the emotional connections because I was not getting.enough emotional support.All the things reminded me of a connection with someone or I intended would provide an opportunity to connect with someone. (like things I kept for my grand kids or things I held onto so they would stir a memory for my kids) I think that was a big discovery about myself today and I feel enlightened. Makes me aware of how sad my life was. I’m glad I can so easily declutter now. Thank you for helping me,

    • Hi Donna unfortunately your situation is not unusual but I am glad you are having the chance at a better one. Being open to assessing and changing how you behave is a wonderful thing. I wish you all the best for the future. I also hope you will continue to share your journey with us here at 365. We have a very supportive group here.

      I am sorry I hadn’t read and responded to your comment sooner but I am on a rather long vacation right now. Cheers colleen

  14. I had definitely never considered it this way, but your thoughts are very insightful, and I wholeheartedly agree.