Be happy with what you declutter today.

In a bid to empty my inbox the other day I came upon this post from over at The Change Blog. It is titled ~ Why I stopped chasing happiness. I wanted to share it with you because the principle behind it is something that we should apply to our decluttering efforts. Take a read of it now if you like before you read what I have to say on the subject.

The problem that Isis was dealing with in her life is similar to when people just like you or me decide that the clutter in our homes has become overwhelming and we need to do something about it. Immediately most people get a vision in mind of what they want their homes to look like at the end of the process. They focus on how happy they are going to be when they meet that goal. The “reality”, however, quickly sets in when they start to think about what it will take to achieve this goal. They become focused on how much work will be involved, get confused as to where to begin, get frustrated over what their plan of attack should be and agonise pessimistically over complications they may encounter along the way.

The good news is that this doesn’t have to be the “reality”. This is just the reality that we conjure up in our minds because of the instant gratification society that we live in in this modern age. It has become apparent to me that instant gratification is not all it is cracked up to be. Ultimately it only teaches us to take everything for granted and not appreciate how lucky we really are all of the time not just when we accomplish the big end goal. But I digress…

Instead of being frustrated, impatient and miserable with the process of decluttering we can actually choose to enjoy it. Get your mind around the following ideas rather than the self defeating ones that may be going on in your mind.

  • Be joyful each time you identify the next thing you choose to declutter.
  • Be happy that every little thing that you remove from your home leaves it slightly less cluttered.
  • Feel strong and free when resisting the temptation to bring something new into the home.
  • Gloat a little on the space you have freed up with every item you remove, no matter how small.
  • Let “Take that clutter!” to be your new war cry.
  • Revel in the fact that not rushing the process gives you time to cement this new habit of living with less as a new way of life rather than just an occasional nasty chore.
  • Feel generous when donating your items to a charity where they will become useful to someone else and the funds raised will help others.

It is possible to enjoy the process if you can believe it is so. I have to say the I have thoroughly enjoyed my declutter process. Yes there are elements of it that I find less appealing than others but in the end even they feel like great individual little achievements once done. S

o enjoy the process by thinking positive and being happy with every little successes every single day.

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter a gadget that you no longer use. Maybe something from the kitchen that you thought would make foodpreparation easier but fell short of your expectations.

Plastic String Bag

Plastic String Bag

Eco Tip for the Day

Reuse all plastic that comes into your home. Little mesh bags like the one in the photo are great to reuse for bagging little grocery items like snap peas or mushrooms.

For a full list of my eco tips so far click here


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About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. loved the new design of the blog….it’s so cool!

  2. “Yes!” to every single word of this post. I am loving my long, careful, thoughtful decluttering journey. 🙂

    • Good for you Melissa. I used to be a periodical declutterer but for me that wasn’t nearly as effective as this slow an steady approach. Slow and stead become a lifestyle change not just an event.

  3. Eventually the small changes add up. In our house, the dominos fell the other day. We came home from our trip with a tiny wood carving that needed to be hung on the wall. To hang it HERE, we had to move another one THERE and… By the end of New Year’s Day we had moved the furniture, vacuumed the corners, washed the walls, rehung the pictures. The display cabinet is in the basement, waiting to go to its new home (offered and accepted). The desk is in my room, ready for the switch from junk storage to actual use as a desk. Our living area is brighter and more spacious, the way we planned it when we moved here with Too Much Stuff. We achieved this, not with a Great Plan or major upheaval but by slowly removing the things we didn’t need, like or want. My husband has become less attached to family things, I’m being more realistic in terms of aspirations, we are both relaxing our ‘might need it someday’ tendencies. We still have work to do, and the process hasn’t been without hiccups, but thing-a-day-ing is a relatively painless and, in the end, very satisfying experience.
    Happy New Year to all! Wendy

  4. I donate my excess things to my local Age Concern charity shop. Imagine my pleasure when I received an email to say that my donations had raised £99 for them. Also, because I am a taxpayer the charity can reclaim tax back on the things that I have donated once they have been sold.

    • Hi Diana, I love that charity set up. We have nothing like that here. We neither know how much our donations realised for the store nor can we claim a tax deduction on any donations except cash. Luckily for me I work at my thrift shop on the days that I take my donations in so I often get the joy of selling them and seeing them walk out the door with the happy new owner.

  5. The only way I can get any decluttering done is thinking of the positive effects like you listed here. Nothing else works for me. Slow and steady with happy feelings all the way.
    I like the new look BTW, very pretty

  6. Decluttering makes me happy — “one piece at a time; one day at a time.” It’s great to have a “vision,” but to be able to appreciate the process brings much peace and clarity.

  7. I so agree with you Colleen. The things that I think stops most people from decluttering are the ideas of having to get it done NOW (how overwhelming) and thinking negatively along the way. Every time I declutter something new I feel so much more free. This is a great post.

  8. Love the post today. Sometimes we just need to sit back and be thankful for how far we have come just in our thought processes, not to mention, when we let go of things. Overcoming the feelings of attachment that some items have over us is half of the battle. I am thankful everyday that I get rid of something. It means to me, that I have made a decision that I am satisfied and feel complete without hanging on to every single thing that has made it into my home.

  9. Would you believe I’ve never thought to bring the little mesh bags back to the store with me to put other produce items in? I do save mine–but I use them as “texture” in mixed media artwork!

    I guess that’s being green though, huh? 😉

  10. I use those plastic mesh bags to store the bulbs I dig up at the end of summer – I hang them up on hooks in my garage ,they are nice and airy so no chance of rot and rodents can’t get at them.

  11. Another thoughtful and thought-provoking post Colleen (and I do so agree with you on the instant gratification thing!) Love all the other comments too on the many benefits of decluttering in a slow and steady way. It’s really making a habit of questioning the value (and I don’t mean monetary) of each possession and makes it so much easier not to accumulate more.

    • That is exactly right Megan. We have be conditioned to thing the stuff is more important than it really is. Being able to question that value makes it a lot easier to let go and, as you say, to not accumulate more.

  12. This post has come in a moment where I have understood where I was and where I want to get. However, I have many things to do apart from decluttering. I can’t spend days worrying about decluttering or doing it. I don’t have the money to make some space saving changings now, right at this moment. So, I can declutter my excess, at the pace it makes me confortable, progressing and, at the end, have some big changes. Last year, around november, I was so consumed with a life changing decluttering, that I lost sight of my progress. It was depressing. In the last days of last year and the first days of this new year, I took some minutes one day, some minutes another day and did some decluttering. I felt happy and came back pleased with myself. Now I have a year long decluttering plan. It won’t be easy, but I will try and enjoy it as much as I can. 😉

    • Good for you Andréia. I thought of you when I wrote this post as I think you sometimes over think the decluttering. Just keep at it at a place that suits your lifestyle and you will do just fine. Rejoice every little thing you get rid of and work hard at not allowing too much in to take its place and you have to win the battle in the end.

      A boa sorte mia amiga.

      • Thank you Colleen! I have to say that Christmas was wonderful and the only stuff that came into the house was needed and in replacement to few much used itens that were too worn. So, I was very pleased. And as I only asked for things I REALLY needed, it was easier to declutter excess clothing after that. Your post touched me because instant reward, instant problem solving is what I was aiming at. Now I just will declutter something I don’t use anymore and move on. Just like you always said 😀 😀 😀 (you can say “I told you so”). Obrigada pelo apoio constante.

  13. Decluttering is addicting. Once you see how wonderful it feels to have everything clean and uncluttered it motivates you to do more! I am going through our house this month to declutter it again, and it is so nice to go through a room in minutes and be finished. You feel so free and unburdened!

    • I agree Spendwisemom. And I am about to do just what you are doing. I have never actually done a sweep of my house in the three years I have been decluttering and writing my blog. It will be interesting to see what shows up.

  14. I read this morning and really enjoyed it, unfortunately I had a full schedule today and have only just made it back to the computer now. I even used this concept when I was talking to a young girl today about her situation.

    Back to decluttering – yes I agree – early stages when I felt it was too much or too hard I had to narrow my ‘vision’ of my perfect home down to a vision of the ‘perfect cupboard’ or ‘perfect drawer’ to get thru the big stuff. When I was tackling a particularly overwhelming area I’d run back to my (by then) perfect cupboard to remind myself that it could be done and could happen elsewhere.

    • Hi Moni, I am glad that you worked this out back in the early days. Not everyone is so fortunate. That desire for the end result to come quickly is folly for many reasons not the least being that we don’t learn anything from it. As they say patience is a virtue.

  15. Nice to have you back! I like the new design too although the comments take an awful lot more scrolling space than they used to… Anyway, I hope everybody enjoyed the break and am looking forward to decluttering along with you all again in 2013!

    Today I got rid of our bulky plastic pineapple corer. We buy fresh whole pineapple less than once a year. I’m sure I can manage with a knife!

    • Hi Jenny and thank you for your input on the new blog design. You are right about the scrolling of course but I can’t say I noticed until you mentioned it. Also I suppose this goes back the how convenient we are always looking for things to be for us. This is one of the things I have found an issue for a lot of people when it comes to decluttering. They want the end result but it all seems like too much bother to achieve. I pull myself up short every time I take this attitude to something I am using or encounter that takes a little more effort than I would like. When it boils down to it life is pretty convenient for us in the modern age really. I always figure any extra effort is just another small way to keep me fit. In fact sometimes I go out of my way to do things the hard way just for the extra effort. Perhaps I am just a little odd though. 😕

      Good choice for your declutter item. I have always enjoyed eating the centre of fresh cut pineapple so this is something I have never owned. I bet you are happy with the space its passing has freed up.

  16. Happy New Year to everybody!

    This post also expresses my experience.
    I’m quite happy with the state of my house at the moment.
    There are still a lot of areas with moving boxes and homeless things- you name it.
    But in every room it takes me only minutes putting things away to reach a state that allows me to vaccum or even feather dust.
    PLUS: I know that I’m on the right track and that it will become easier and easier!

  17. As so often, Colleen, you are totally right!
    But I’d like to add: Be patient with yourself not only when it comes to decluttering but also when it comes to noticing (and appreciating) how much impact slow and steady really has.
    I think I came to your site almost two years ago and though I did chip away quite steadily (with some “marathons” thrown in (e. g. on the dreaded paper/filing or various medium to major bookcase and clothes declutterings) that I seem to need to keep me satisfied) I needed quite a while to really feel the difference. I’m sure it was a year or so until it really started to show and make a difference in my daily life (though of course that estimation of time might be inaccurate/biased as during that year much else apart from decluttering what I already had was happening such as grandma moving/giving up her house/giving “heirlooms” to me and BF moving in with me)

  18. â– Feel generous when donating your items to a charity where they will become useful to someone else and the funds raised will help others.
    Inspiring advice, Colleen. If everyone could “feel” the value of that simple statement it would make the decluttering process so much easier. I’m a “pass it on” kind of gal too. One of the charities I frequently donate to always comment how every piece of clothing is clean and pressed and all chatchke is clean. I donate the items in such condition that the store has to do nothing but inventory, price and display.

  19. I have just discovered your site. How refreshing!!
    I relate to the overwhelm everyone here speaks of. This means I vacillate between ‘remove-every-single-thing-from-the-house-and-put-it-in-a-pile, then-start-and-finish-the-whole-declutter-in-one-weekend’ and ‘take-it-slow, be-calm, be-decisive’. Silly, I KNOW the tortoise is the one to back… It is great to read this post about enjoying the decluttering process. Thank you, I think I’m going to try this 🙂

    • Hi Nadya and welcome to 365 Less Things. You have described the general attitude to decluttering very well. Most people want it done and out of the way. It is an event rather than a learning process. Been there done that myself and thought I was so good at it. What I didn’t do was learn how not to end up back at square one not too far into the future. Mainly because I was really only making space for the next lot of clutter. That is often all that people want out of decluttering and that is fine for them. And even the tortoise isn’t always the one to back if he learns nothing along the way. My mission was to stay decluttered and once I started paying attention to the state of the environment and how consumer greed affects that I soon learned that replacing my clutter was not the thing to do and never again be a habit of mine. I hope that this will be the same for you and that you will remain decluttered once you reach your goal.

  20. very good post. I needed this, as I have felt a bit disappointed. although I managed to get a big piece of furniture out, I have the feeling my place is more messy than ever. I think it is, because the little space my drawer offered to put things down is now gone and my items are piling in two spots – instead of three. This and the gifts from christmas (good and needed ones) have given me an uneasy feeling, because I feel my home getting “cluttered”, although it is in a reasonable good and decluttered state.

    I think this sunday I will think about a new arrangement for my things. I need a new departure place for decluttered items, and there are still a few that need a listing on ebay. good plan for the weekend. thanks for the post and the blog, colleen, its so comfortable to know where to look if I need motivation again.

    • It sounds like you did need this post right now Lena. Don’t forget you are living in a small space and that adds challenges of its own. Also there is always something new out there on the market place which entices us to attempt to make our lives more pleasant by purchasing them. Keep as tidy as you can, minimise the incoming and don’t be too hard on yourself. Be happy in the moment and if you find yourself taking a few steps back just fight back.

  21. First off I love your site and emails. I forget there is a whole community over here so thank you for the reminder.

    I am in the major easy declutter phase right now, getting rid of stuff I bought to resell and some hasn’t even been unboxed from when I bought it. Major stuff here. But I know it is coming…the tough decisions, going through my beloved model horse and stationery collections…boxes and boxes of art supplies. I know it is coming so I really appreciate the ideas of how to sort through such emotionally charged STUFF.

    • Hi Christine, nice to hear from you again. Don’t concern yourself too much with the upcoming decluttering that you fell will be more difficult because with all the declutter muscle flexing you are doing you will probably not find it so hard after all. What I did with my overabundance of craft supplies was to visit it occasionally while I was still working on the “easy stuff”. In small doses I would let go of things that I new I didn’t really use. By the time I was getting really serious about tackling the big task I just set myself a limit of space I wanted it to take up and decluttered anything that didn’t fit. I haven’t regretted getting rid of anything yet. Good luck and happy decluttering.


  1. […] Wendy B gives us a great example of how happy she is with her decluttering efforts and how they are all coming together. Read about it in this link. […]