Change your thinking

Change can be difficult, especially for people who have behaved in a certain way for years. Changing your mindset is what is needed before you even try to change anything else. So what can you do about that when it comes to decluttering.

First forgive yourself for the mistakes of the past. If you continue with the mindset of beating yourself up about past mistakes  you will likely try to soothe that pain in some way. This is where you could find yourself at the store buying something to make you feel better, sabotaging your intentions. Instead of beating yourself up pat yourself on the back for making the decision to embrace a new way of living. Start a fresh from this day onwards with the attitude of “I can do this, one thing at a time.”

Seek advice and inspiration to help you achieve your goal.  You can make the decision to change behaviour in an instant but a little knowledge will make putting your intentions into action easier. No matter what task a person takes on in life there are lessons to be learned in order to do the task well. I know myself that I find it difficult to step out of my comfort zone into a new experience unless I have some idea of how to go about doing the task I am taking on. Once a little knowledge is gained it can be applied and experience will be gained making it easier and easier as time goes on.

Be satisfied with your efforts no matter how big or small. Change your thinking from “only the big things count” to “everything counts”. You will have days where you declutter big items and days where you declutter small items. Every item is one more thing out of your home no matter how big or small. So long as it is a step in the right direction you have achieved something so why not celebrate that. Sometimes I get more excited about the small things because it may have taken more effort to find the right home for them or I might have sold them on ebay for a good sum of money. It isn’t always about the size of the space you are freeing up. Small items can carry burdensome obligation or aspiration so to be rid of them can make a big different.

Turn the negatives into a positives. This will come in handy when it comes to stopping the clutter coming in. Instead of seeking the old high of acquiring things get your thrills from seeing stuff leave your home. The novelty of getting new things wears of much faster than the good feeling you achieve when you take another step towards your decluttering goal. This is especially so when you start to notice how pleasant your once cluttered surroundings are becoming. And the freedom you feel when you realise you no longer have the craving to acquire stuff anymore is an added bonus.

Question your decision making. At first it is easy to slip into default mode when making decisions about what to keep and what to get rid of.  If you feel you are doing that ~ the obvious signs of this is when you find yourself choosing to keep too many things ~ stop and question your thinking. Ask yourself again why am I keeping this. Don’t let those old feeling of obligation, half hearted sentiment ,guilt or fear make you keep things you know you have no use for and /or don’t particularly love. Remind yourself of your goal and reconsider. You may end up keeping the item, and that is Ok but at least you will know you have made a rational decision.

If you keep reminding yourself of your conviction to free your life of unnecessary, unloved items you will soon find your new way of thinking has become the norm and decluttering will become second nature.

 “Most change is temporary unless there is an emotional shifting that occurs.” ~ Dr. Georgianna Donadio

Today’s Mini Mission

Thursday – Do you also have enough pots, pans, trays, baking dishes etc to cater for that family of six that have long since flown the coop. Investigate what you use regularly and get rid of the rest.

Today’s Declutter Item

Here is an item I have been considering decluttering for a while. It is useful? ~ Occasionally. Do I love it? ~ No. Do I mind if my guests eat off my everyday crockery? ~ It is good enough for me. Is it one less thing to fit into the smaller home I intend to live in one day ~ Yes. Do I need the space right now ~ No. Even after all those questions I was a little undecided so what I did was I declutter half of it. I had been a little unconventional when I bought it in the first place, buying one half maroon and the other green to match the decor of our  dining/formal lounge area. So I have kept the maroon half ~ for now.

Half of my "good" dinner set

Something I Am Grateful For Today

Good friends. I have been so fortunate in this life with the good friends I have made in every new place I have lived. For that I am truly grateful.

“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” Brother David Steindl-Rast

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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Continue reading with these posts:

  • Dithering? ~ By Peggy W I have dithered many times in my decluttering journey, unable to make a decision about my stuff.  Two of the “ditherees” left my house this morning because I needed soft fillers to […]
  • Large area declutter ~ Minimal disruption This post is all about breaking down, into steps, the task of decluttering a large cluttered area of your home without causing undue disruption. I am going to use the kitchen as my example […]
  • You can do things differently Doodles blog post yesterday got me thinking about how out of character my decluttering method is to my usual behaviour. Of the seven sabotaging behaviours Doodle mentioned in the post, I […]
About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. Decluttering is and having to get rid of things is the best way to help us to avoid buying too much in the future. It hurts to see some of the foolish things we buy and the money we waste. I think it is the best thing to have to deal with the consequences of our actions to help us to stop doing it.

    • And yet when I used to do a quick declutter every year I didn’t really learn this lesson. Doing it slowly and thoroughly certainly has made me think about each and every thing. Why I bought it, how little or how much use it go, the effect its production has on the environment… Some might find that disturbing but I find it inspires me think more carefully in the future about every purchase I make.

  2. This one hit home. When I look back at what we accomplished, it was easy to be critical of the mistakes we made early on in our lives. Getting rid of debt and learning to live more simply were key to getting rid of stress and making life happier.

    Seeking advice and (motivation) are important and really help keep me on track. Reading other bloggers posts and listening to podcasts are a huge help for me personally to stay motivated, get great advice, and know we are on the right track.

    • Hi Larry and welcome to 365 Less Things. Thank you for stopping by to leave a comment. I like your formula to making a happier life and wish everyone, who hasn’t found it yet, that same wisdom.
      Although I had a plan from the get go (this time) to declutter for retirement and freeing our lives up for travelling I had no idea where that would lead. It was only when my husband said “You should start a blog.” that I thought I had better see how this blogging thing works that I started finding advice I hadn’t bargained for. I had never even heard of minimalism prior to that. Then I started reading about environmental impact and my decluttering took on a whole new dimension. I am so glad it did because decluttering hasn’t just made my life simpler it has changed my attitude completely.

    • I also find motivation online, in blogs (not much podcasts though), articles, websites, and especially here in the comment section of 365lessthings. what helped me most is probably writing about certain items, tracking my feelings and emotions, comprehending the full relation I had/have with it. once I got that it wasnt so hard to let go anymore, because I knew what this items fate is from now on. and hearing other peoples stories (and also seeing the pictures!) pushes me further…

  3. Debbie in Alberta

    My parents are just going through this change of mindset at the moment. They have just listed their house for sale to move to an adult oriented community and know they have to start getting rid of stuff. They have watched me go through our decluttering journey. I have another $1000 today to deposit in the bank – when I tell them the money we’ve accumulated selling stuff we don’t use, that’s motivated them to start selling items. We’re having a joint garage sale next week. They have a lot of paper, books, magazines, etc. and my dad has heard from each of us kids that “You can find out all the information on the internet”; but he’s not quite there yet to let go. I know from my experience that it is a process that you have to work through so I don’t push.

    I went to help them get their house ready to list yesterday and straightening up the very cluttered office I found a book titled something like – 10 steps to decluttering – which I showed them and we had a good laugh!!

    • It sounds like you have quite the challenge ahead of you Debbie. I hope your dad realises he needs to let go before packing up the things he is not ready to part with and finding they don’t fit in at the other end. Like you say, you can’t push these things. I am sure that the more your dad observes the process and the relief he feels knowing they are moving closer to their goal will be encouragement enough. Good luck!

      • Debbie – Your story about the 10 Steps book reminds me of an experience I had years ago. I was visiting my neighbors, and their house was dreadfully cluttered. I distinctly remember that their hallway was lined with boxes. I had to step over one of these boxes, which was open on top. What did I see? The book Clutters Last Stand. It was all I could do not to bust out laughing.

        • ; P I used to have that book. It’s very funny. I decluttered mine years ago to inspire some else……….

  4. Colleen, would you be okay with telling us how you decluttered your dishes – sell locally, sell on ebay, give to family, donate, etc?

    I love that you had two colours of dishes – I used to dream of having several colours or designs to mix and match (although no more!) – and even more I love that it meant you could just declutter half of them for now.

    • Sure Jo H. I donated them to the thrift store yesterday when I went to do my weekly day there. I hope to find them gone when I go back next week.

      I enjoyed having the two colours. I would make sure I used and equal amount of each colour around the table. No one ever mentioned that the plates were different colours, they probably thought they were meant to be that way.

  5. Good points. One of the big things that I have discussed with people who don’t understand what I am doing is that I am stopping the following of the world’s push for things as a so called way of measuring worth and success. It means asking the hard questions. Love the Serenity Prayer.

    • I like the idea of being part of the push Deb J. I really find the mentality pathetic these days. There are still so many people buying into it though. I just hope that more people are coming over to our way of thinking. I actually feel sorry for those who don’t. It takes a lot of effort, emotion and money to “keep up with the Joneses”.

    • what is so fascinating about this is that my generation (end twenties) actually knows that (or maybe just me and my friends all together). we know that we should keep an eye on our energy consumption, we know which products are bad and we know that some companies are just pure evil. we are critical about social issues in production, we hate that there are still children working. But we seem to miss the link to our lifestyle. completely. because we grew up in a world where everything (!) was available all the time. and thats where the generation of my parents is different. they did grew up in hard times, shortly after the war, things were not as taken for granted as it is nowadays. took time, but I think I got it now. my mum said to me the other day that I am turning into my frugal grandmother 😉

      • „turning into my frugal grandmother“ – I think that is exactly the picture in people’s minds that makes me dislike the word frugal. (and people on the net or elsewhere who brag about saving money by „stealing“ little packs of individually wrapped portions of ketchup or whatever …)
        Voluntary simplicity on the other hand sounds good to me. I think we should all use positive vocabulary more if we want to convince others (and ourselves) of how great it is to life with less stuff (and less obligation, stress, debt …).
        No offense to people who proudly call themselves frugal, please! I’m just saying that language is extremely powerful and that we all can (and often do, anyway) use it wisely. After all we never offer “clutter” to other people – though we call our unused, unloved, to good to use, excess (or for whatever reason we keep it) stuff clutter – and by declaring it clutter actually make it’s fate.
        Sorry for rambling. Just thinking. (and saying …)

        • haha. I have a friend who is sending me vouchers and coupons per newsletter all the time where I could order myself stuff for free. I dont know how often I told her already that I wont get myself a basket full of tiny shampoo bottles, even if I use shampoo on a regular basis. thats not what I call ‘frugal’ but ‘tight’. (sparsam vs. geizig)

          I think I disagree here with you. Voluntary simplicity sound like a term straight out of marketing. like labeling a new trend, making it sound modern, hip, trendy, although it is nothing else than the frugal grandmother in todays times. but maybe thats just my aversion against modern marketing strategies and ‘positive’ vocabulary. how would you translate it into german?

          • Hi Lena,
            I like the „voluntary“ in voluntary simplicity. (Freiwilligkeit.) I don’t like any of the terms you can use to translate Simplicity into German, just as for clutter there is no good equivalent for this term in German (imho). And I absolutely get what you mean by marketing sound. But I think that’s partly due to stupid “Marketingsprech” with lots of English terms in it where it is absolutely not necessary just to make bland concepts and no-brainers sound interesting and smart.
            I really don’t have good translations for some concepts and it really bugs me because it seems the ability to seep into the mainstream is directly linked to the simplicity of talking about something. But I’m getting off track here …
            I guess I just would love to have a simple, universal way of letting others know, I do the things I do for a (good) reason …

          • hey Ideealistin,
            this: “I really don’t have good translations for some concepts and it really bugs me because it seems the ability to seep into the mainstream is directly linked to the simplicity of talking about something.” you hit the nail on the head right there. thats my biggest problem. Because I am doing the “decluttering/minimalism” in english, my ability to express myself in german in this regard is just sad. and because we are short on definite words, I cant “implement” my plans into this german friends I have 😉
            its the frugal grandmother (regarding the household) + awareness of globalisation, environmental issues and social injustice + minimalism + functionalism. this is how I would describe my lifestyle right now.
            I dont know why I have problems with the word ‘voluntary’, but I feel a moral obligation to live like this. and while minimalism and functionalism are my preferences in style and design, living frugal, therefore more sustainable is more important to me than the look of my place… and I really wish that I could convince more people in this. and writing that ‘out’ makes me feel like I am developing an OCD 😉

        • I agree with you Ideealistin so ramble away all you like. I always considered myself frugal because I never paid full price for all the stuff I really didn’t need anyway. Where as voluntary simplicity mean realising you didn’t need it in the first place and not wasting any money or space on it. I am glad to say I have learned the error of my ways.

      • Nice Lena. I do think you’re right that there’s a disconnect between what people know and how they act.

      • Hi Lena, things must be different in Germany because I don’t think the young ones get it here at all, at least not the majority of them.

        Frugal grandmother, now that is amusing. You could start your own website with that monicker. Your mother must be starting to feel like she is the young wasteful one while you are setting the new trend. Hopefully you will have her converted soon enough.

        • Lena there is nothing wrong with introducing English words into your own language. Clutter can be described as “things you have that you don’t need.” There must be german words for that. Just call it what it is ~ Clutter. I use Australian colloquialisms in my blog quite often if people don’t know what I am talking about they can look it up or ask me. (like the comment I got today asking what a budgie was ~ budgie |ˈbÉ™jÄ“|
          noun ( pl. -ies) informal term for budgerigar .) I am sure you probably have to translate things I write at times. There are plenty of words in the modern English language that belonged first to other languages. There is a group of people dedicated to revising our dictionaries every year who adjudicate on what new words should be allowed in. So be a trendsetter and start adding them in yourself.

          • oh well yeah, putting english words into german language is something we are not really good at. I dont want to go into details but here is the classic – a german mobile phone is called a “handy”. everywhere. we call hoarders “messies” (and they even refer to the english word ‘mess’).
            and no, we do not have a specific word for clutter. I always refer to it as “stuff you dont need”. I also use the german words for excess, abundance, unnecessary, unwanted, but there is no right name for the whole, which I think is a shame, and as Ideealistin put it so nicely, you cant really spread an idea if you have no proper way to talk about it. I am not sure if I want to call it “clutter” from now on, because I would have to explain all of it again, because no ‘normal’ german knows that word.

          • In German, the common adequate for “clutter” is “Gerümpel” – but somehow, I don’t really like it that much. I tend to speak of “Zeug” (“stuff”).

            Lena, I really like to read your thoughts on this topic. Just the other day, it striked me (or rather my boyfriend) when we were out drinking coffee in a bakery, that almost one third of the customers there got their drink in a paper cup ALTHOUGH they stayed in the café to drink it. That’s amazing (and shocking!) – of course, those were “eco-friendly” paper cups made of recycled paper, but just to think that about 10, 15 years ago, you wouldn’t have been able to get your coffee in a paper cup at all – it just wasn’t common (unless in fast-food chains like Mc Donald’s).

            We’ve been talking about “refusing” a lot in the last time. People are happy to buy tons of unnecessary “eco-friendly” stuff. But very little of it is actually long-lasting or a need in the first place.

          • hey Sanna,
            I dont like the word “Gerümpel”. For me it only refers to the stuff that is worn down, so I would translate it with junk. I find that my excess CDs or books are clutter, but they are not Gerümpel. I also use “Zeug” a lot. I love the sound of both words though 😉 I really dont think there is a perfect translation for clutter at all…

            You just gave the perfect example of what I meant: we buy “eco-friendly” disposables… let that sink in. we dont question the need for the disposables, but make them “eco-friendly” instead. so we can consume with a better conscience. this is something so absolutely ridiculous, it makes me laugh, everytime I think about it. thats why I go all frugal grandmother style again. and then I get the comments as if I would be the crazy person here.

        • maybe its just my impression from my surrounding, maybe it is germany, I dont know. at my parents house we had more rules on how to “seperate” the rubbish into 9 different bins (there are at least 3 different plastic units) than … than anything else really. My dad was almost fanatic in saving energy – I hear his grumbling if I notice I didnt switch something off even today. We all know how to save energy and water, we recycle, we know all about the nuclear-power and cheer for the renewable energies. but we somehow miss that we can actually not just seperate the trash, but reduce it in the first place. We want to get renewable energy but we somehow have increasing demand…

          • Hi Lena – interesting thought. Here in NZ they have been promoting the Reduce Re-use and Recycle theme, and there is a lot of info about recycling, re-use is starting to get some notice with freecycle and similar sites but I have recently realised that reduce doesn’t get much of a mention.

            Here we have a wheelie bin which gets collected fortnightly. I have been wondering if we emptied ours out and put like with like, what would it tell us about ourselves?

          • oh Moni, you could come here. you can get tips for reducing your energy and water consumption around every corner. I also know a lot of people who are not wasting a lot of paper and are actively trying to reduce that. my parents are champs in recycling, although I have to say the german infrastructure on that is really good as well. I have 4 different bins (paper, packaging, compost, trash) and I live in the center of a big city. We have glass containers in every street, same for red-cross-clothing containers. the public, official way is working so good that the people seem to forget that they should think about their own choices too.

          • Hi Lena – there is a lot of advertising out here at the moment with being energy effecient, but water effecient…….it would be a bit of a joke as we have an abundance of fresh water, our landscape is full of lakes, rivers and streams. There are only a couple of areas which suffer water shortage. Apparently our high rain fall is attributed to Australia’s high sun/heat averages over such a large block of land, it keeps our weather patterns repeating over our part of the world. I can’t explain that any better, but the video demostration I saw on tv made sense. So we have plenty of rain here but it gives us a green country. The majority of electricity is generated by water dams, no nuclear here at all, even nuclear powered ships are not allowed in our waters.
            The only reason I remind the kids not to be wasteful with water is because it is metered and we pay by the cubic volume, its not a huge amount but as it goes literally down the plug hole, there’s no reason to be stupid.
            Apparently at our recycling centres, everything is sorted out and does have to go to some sort of re-use industry. When people take rubbish to the transfer station, you have to stop at the office on the way in to have the load sited. Anything that can be re-used is taken to their ‘store’ (you can get cheap goods and the proceeds help fund the set up) and you are expected to visit the different cages to recycle as much as possible before your vehicle is weighed. Then you can go to the dump site and your car is weighed again on the way out, and you pay for the difference in weight. So people are very keen to recycle as much before they go to the dump area.

            Unfortunately the same doesn’t apply for the weekly weelie bin collection. Ironically we have the biggest family on our cul-de-sac street (means it comes to a dead end with a little roundabout) and we have the smallest weekly rubbish bin, and I don’t consider myself a particularly green thinking person.

          • Moni, thanks for your answer. Germany is also a rich water country, lakes, rivers and frequent rainfalls. I do understand why we save water though. because the less you use, the less you pay, the less water needs to be “recycled” at the clarification plant (?). The less it costs for municipalities. I learned it as a child to switch on the water only for the things you need (and that sticks: to see running water while brushing teeth brings physical pain), we have toilets with the stop system, etc…
            the city where I grew up has also a recycling center, the guys working there are great, telling you which goes where (I havent really understood the criteria for plastic to get sorted), but if you have stuff for the dumpster you need to drive to the next town. they do also the car weighing, but they dont give a damn.

            My mum is always again proud to tell people that she produces almost no trash for the bin, because she is recycling almost everything. the bin (50l) gets picked up every 14 days, she and the other two small single households who use it, never fill it up. she said that she would go even smaller if she could… most of my trash gets recycled (paper, glass, organic, plastic/metal), and I dont produce a lot of “rest”trash. But then I would call myself a ‘green’ person, and I am really trying to avoid trash wherever possible. Like for example I started to reuse the really well made paper bag, that my coffee comes in.

        • Oh Colleen,
          I wish it was true that young(er) are very aware of environmental issues. Aware, maybe somehow. But there really is a lot of confusion. So for example only few people know that much of collected “recycling” stuff is not really recycled. Glass, paper, metals: yes. But a lot of the plastic actually is burned (“thermische Verwertung”) . Burned separately from other trash which is maybe good to some degree but totally misleading.
          As Lena and Sanna I am astonished (and often shocked) how being green(er) often is only lip service ending at the oh-so-recycled paper cup.

  6. We all know what you mean, but it’s the daughter of an English teacher in me:

    soothe (rather than sooth) and
    clutter coming it (I think you mean ‘in’ not ‘it’)

    I love that you have a half and half dining wear set! Actually, my thrift store plate went in the oven last night (and survived), but makes me thankful I didn’t buy new and crackle the glaze like I did last night!

    And I agree with the little things – for me it’s mainly little things. But I had a list of 8 types of things to freecycle last night, so it’s not too shabby (notebooks, decorative eggs, measuring cups that I mentioned, stockings, runners etc)

    • Hi Snosie and thank you for alerting me to my typos. They are usually the result of leaving it so late to get the post written. A long time habit of mine. I appreciate you being my proof reader, keep it up.

      If I have the oven on to cook a meal I always put my plates in to warm them before serving and I have never had one crackle on me yet. I wonder why yours did. Perhaps it was very old and not so well fired.

      Wouldn’t it be easier to just drop those things off at a thrift store than to faff around with them on freecycle? I tend only to use freecycle for things I don’t think the thrift store would accept.

      • You’re right – though I pass my thrift store at 7am (and spy people who’ve left bags there). So I try freecycle – I also like to ‘give’ to a system I ‘take’ from. And I like the idea that it’s a money free economy. I agree though, it is a pain to sort out pick up times, as I can’t leave things outside at my place like I could at my parents.

        Yeah seems a little ‘wrong’ about my crockery – similar issues presented them with the cups (though I don’t use them for drinking from). Lucky it was only $7.50 for a six set. I’ll keep my eyes out for another plain dinner set at thrift stores, but it’s totally usable for now.

        • Hi Snosie,
          I see your point freecycle can be like bartering if you are using it the other way around as well. Give and take. My thrift store is open seven days a week so it is easy to drop off there. Not that I bother on the weekends because I go there every Wednesday. I am not a lover of seven day shopping because it robs families of time together on the weekends so I really would prefer that they at least shut on Sundays.

          • yeah. but if you are single, sundays can turn into “dead” days sometimes, and while all those couples and family spend their day drinking hot chocolate in their pjs, I am frustrated that I cant go out and get my things done just as I can during the week, because sunday in the end is nothing different from a normal day (except the tv program is crap and the shops are closed). so I cheer for the thrift store being open on sunday. Now if I would only live in australia…

          • Lena, I actually love that dead day. I read, I sleep, I clean and I meet up with friends.

            • I am with you Sanna. I think modern society has just learned to spend their time at the shops on sundays instead of going on picnics, taking a stroll, reading a book, catching up on chores, enjoying someone else’s company… I must admit though that I do my grocery shopping on Sunday with my husband but I could easily switch days as this is only a new habit. I grew up when the shops were only open to 11am on Saturdays and not at all on Sundays and that included the major grocery chains. We survived. We often when fishing, riding our bikes, hanging out with friends, picnicking by the beach…

  7. Hi Colleen – I would like to sit down with my hubby and discuss this one with him tonight. This is so true! Will apply beautifully to the money/budget decluttering we started 2 months ago, a joint project with hubby and I, that hasn’t been quite the success we had hoped it would be. Obviously a lot less money is being spent on stuff as I don’t want to have to turn around and get rid of it, so we thought we would extend it further and see what other holes in the financial hull we could plug up. But we just haven’t seen the changes we would have thought we would see. After I read today’s post I had a lightbulb moment that would be because we’ve been using this method:
    berate * make as hard as possible * never be satisfied with progress to date * complain about the negatives * ignore & refuse to discuss poor decisions due the dispute it will cause.
    And we wondered why it wasn’t working, it was because we as a team weren’t working.

    Ironically when I am decluttering (I am more or less a solo team) I have without thinking about it adopted the forgive, advice & inspire, satisfaction, positives & question approach – although I would never have been able to verbalise it as well as you have above. Now I just need hubby and I to speak the same speak when we work together. This is awesome! Thank you.

    • I have found that my husband isn’t too interested in decluttering, but he is supportive of what I do. It is important to him to keep the weeds out of the yard, but I don’t care as much as he does. I guess I look at it as both of us having different responsibilities. He works on earning money for the family and I try to take good care of what we have and keep things clean and decluttered. As long as you both have similar goals, you can break up the different responsibilities between you two according to what you enjoy doing.

    • Wow I love it when people read what I have written, translate it to their own situation and hopefully improve their lot. Your situation was not what I had in mind Moni but then the article I read recently about changing behaviour that inspired this post didn’t have decluttering in mind either. In fact I think it had more your situation in mind. Here is a link to the book the interview was about.

      • I recently finished a fantastic book about habits and will write a post about it soon.

      • Hi Colleen – thanks for that link – I did discuss with my hubby and it went quite positively. As the kids had been approaching him hoping for praise with areas they felt they’d made inroads, he would berate them for not doing this prior to now and surely they could go without altogether, and then wondering why their efforts had petered off.

        In his defence, he came from a rather disadvantaged home, but disadvantaged due to frivolousness and poor decisions, so when I cheerfully suggested we declutter the family budget I obviously triggered a lot of emotional stuff for him 🙂 I also suspect seeing the amount of stuff leaving the house in recent months has had him on edge too, although the more mature side of him loves the improved home and the income I have generated from selling stuff has been impressive.

        This article made sense to him, so thank you for that. Usually he is a fun guy but obviously watching his home life difficulties as a child impacted on him and as an adult talk of budget cuts equals financial crisis and traumatic changes, meanwhile I was talking about downsizing the recycling bin, canceling an insurance policy that has outlived its purpose and that by ringing Telecom I’d been able to negotiate a better deal, that sort of thing. I just hadn’t been able to find a way to explain to him a more positive way of leading a campaign, so thanks for the article even if it wasn’t meant for that purpose.

        • Well done Moni. Childhood situations can have a very lasting effect on people so I am glad you are going easy on him. I have to confess I have always been a little on the low on praise high on “why can’t you just do it properly” because even though my parents were fair and I am forever grateful that they taught us so many useful things, they weren’t that great on the praise. Although I do know that they praised us highly to others when we weren’t around. They learned this from their parents as well which makes it a hard cycle the break. I think perhaps I have turned it around a little as time has gone on and hopeful my children’s children, if they have any, will find their parents better at it still.

          You just have to find the right approach that works for him and I am sure you will achieve success.

  8. Thanks Colleen, I was a bit down on myself for reading your blog and not doing much. I was cheered to read that it is important to change the mindset first. Your blog has definitely changed my buying habits and slowly I am starting to due clutter.

    • Being down on yourself is nothing but destructive so chin up and be glad that you at lease have stopped stuf coming it that is half of the battle. Now just try to find 10 minutes per day to put one thing aside that you don’t need. Even when you feel tired and can’t be bothered you might be surprised how much better you will feel for spending that ten minutes to achieve something. Good luck and HAPPY decluttering.

  9. Thank you for posting the Serenity prayer today. I really needed to see it when I logged in this morning 🙂

    For the decluttering mission today I’m pleased to report there are no excess baking items! When we moved house my husband insisted we bin several baking tins and tart tins as they were completely scratched (I’d been using them for years anyway, oops). So far, I’ve only had to replace 1 springform baking tin; we’ve made do with what we have otherwise.

    Love working at the oppy, I always have a bag of stuff at the ready to donate. This time it’s yet more books. I WISH I’d been more mindful when I purchased them but at least I can mindfully get rid of them now 🙂 Plus, it’s 1/2 way through June and I’ve managed to restrain myself from impulse-buying stuff from there, apart from some brand new with tag flannelette pjs for me (score!) and a cardigan for my daughter!

    • I hope you are feeling more cheerful this evening. It sounds like you weren’t having a good morning.

      You should see my baking tins they are very well seasoned or at lease that is my explanation for the caked on blackness of them. I have a cup cake baking pan that came from the grandparents bakery in the 30’s. That being said I have decluttered some but may still have a couple more than I really need.

      I am glad you are enjoying your gig at the op shop. I have made two particularly good friend who I have been eating and drinking wine with this afternoon. Which just goes to show you can find more than just a bargain at the thrift shop.

  10. Great post Colleen. I love your point that we can celebrate “every” achievement, not just the big ones. I have found that on really busy days, if I can still declutter something (even as small as deleting a few unwanted emails or photos), I can still get the same buzz as days where I achieve a lot more. I apply this to my interests too: for example, if I have no time to read a book in the evening, even reading one paragraph makes me feel better.

    • Absolutely Kim, in our instant gratification society we are too conditioned to wanting everything quickly including dealing with things we would rather avoid . Being able to be satisfied with small achievements can make for a much happier life.

  11. I could give away 90% of my pots and all of my baking stuff and never miss it.
    Pots – 20 years ago hubby bought me the super Amway pot set, rather expensive I believe. Unfortunately I’m a microwave girl and so only use a couple of my pots. I talked about getting rid of some, but older daughter suggested that we divy up what I don’t want, as the kids leave home. As I have nothing else to put in the pot drawer it sounds like a plan to me. The eldest could be leaving home next year so I’m sure he’d appreciate all freebies.

    • there is nothing like going through the house with your mum on one side and a huge IKEA bag on the other. it was so much fun. my mum was happy to get some kitchen items out that she had multiples of, and I got a household for free.
      What shocked me though, was that she actually bought things for me, for when I move out, and stored them until I really moved into my own flat…

    • That does actually make economic sense. It is the reason I still have two boxes of stuff in the garage for my daughter. Some of which came out of my china cabinet.

  12. I have recently attended to my baking trays, I purchased two new ones which meant all the old beaten up ones could go to the bin. My saucepans are one of my better purchases, I bought the set in 1984 and they are still going strong. Sometimes, I delay the purchase of something because I do not wish it to be clutter, but in the end it sometimes helps reduce the clutter. Perhaps it is because I put more thought into it.
    We evolve and our needs change, recognizing this has helped me PLUS I am glad this daily dose of inspiration is here on my computer each morning for me. Cheers

    • Hi Wendy F,
      I am slowly decluttering my baking trays etc. I declutter a few then realise I still don’t need the number I have left and declutter a few more. I think there is a muffin pan about to depart the premises. As for my saucepans, I had a good set given to me as a wedding present 25 years ago that are still going strong and will probably outlast me. Not too many not to few and just the right sizes. I love good design and good manufacturing.

  13. Something I’m grateful for today is your post! Every word truly hit home, specially the part about being happy to see stuff go; and NOT bringing more stuff in! 🙂

    Thank you, Colleen, for sharing such wise insight and thoughts. Truly excellent advise!
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 (a 4 smiley face kinda day!)

  14. I had a bit of a lightbulb moment this week whilst to-ing and fro-ing with a fellow Freecycler about them picking up something of mine; it has taken me a LOT longer to give this thing away than it ever did to buy it in the first place. 😛 I find that I’m going thru my life, in the respect of the material goods part of it anyway, with an eye on future (responsible) disposal. If something can be enjoyed and returned immediately, like a library book, so much the better. The very best solution is to avoid having it cross the threshold in the first place.

    The wonderful thing is that although I’m not preaching my lifestyle, or even discussing it, some random comments from friends and family are indicating that they’re moving their minds towards decluttering. And once the mindset is changed, the rest can slowly but surely follow.

    • Hi GreyQueen – I had just come to that conclusion myself today. Told my hubby that its like putting on weight, it takes 4 times as long to take back off!

    • Lets hope so GreyQueen, lets really hope that others a following your lead. Not only with the decluttering but with cutting back on the stuff coming in. It never ceases to annoy me how willing people are to go out shopping but then it is all too much bother to hand the items on responsibly when the novelty quickly wears off. Perfectly good stuff ends up and landfill and that does not sit well with me.

      • Me neither. 🙁 I go to our city’s “recycling facility” most weeks with bags of green stuff from my allotment garden, pernicious perennial weeds which cannot be safely composted at the low temps achievable in small heaps. I flinch at the stuff going over the long drop, stuff which was often perfectly good before it fell. I’ve seen brand new stuff still in its packaging. This city has literally dozens of thrift stores. You can choose to benefit the cancer charities, the heart diesase and stroke charities, the cats, the dogs, the horses, the blind, the deaf, the hospice for the terminally ill children, the homeless locally, the disadvantaged in the developing world. There’s such need out there, never mind the immorality of wasting the raw materials and embodied energy in these products…………… It’s a sickening form of madness to see the detritus of the consumer society mired up together and stinking when so much of it could have been re-used with a little effort and forethought.

  15. “You 404’d it. Gnarly, dude.” this just made me laugh. Never seen it before.

  16. I have a round or two of decluttering ahead of me, as we decided, and my dad agreed to it, to rent my dad’s house (and maybe buy it later from him). He will leave the house fully furnished and outfitted, with both useful and not so useful things. There were still drawers and closets filled with mom’s old things (she passed away four years ago) so I started with those things. Mostly craft items and left-over fabrics etcetera. After dad has moved after midsummer, and taken anything he wants, I will sort through everything and box up stuff for storage and donate some things according to my best judgement.. It’s a bit harder as it’s not MY stuff, and I don’t want to overdo it and get rid of stuff someone will miss… But I guess I can offer my siblings to take what they want. In a sense, we will be taking care of the house and the things in it, it’s not ours, but I do reserve the right to make calls about keeping things that are not of obvious sentimental value.
    Sorting this stuff is also emotional and brings a lot of memories.. But I’m not going to be keeping a museum, and for my life to function properly we need to have a pretty basic, sparse living arrangement. And then I will just try to ignore the stuffed storage hehe.
    We are just now spending ten days at my sister’s house, and I packed all my stuff in one grocery bag. Besides my computer, that was pretty nearly all my possessions.
    Since having lost everything to mold, I have become really hesitant about buying anything. I used to think that it’s a good thing to buy something that you really love and want, even though it’s expensive, because I would keep it forever. I didn’t factor in the possibility that those expensive things might get destroyed. We are not replacing that stuff, no way. I still won’t buy cheap to-be-replaced-later stuff, but I will wait until I get something nice enough for cheap. And the important word here is ENOUGH. It need not be THE perfect suchandsuch. Just something I like and that serves it’s purpose. And I’m willing to wait and go without rather than buy things destined for replacement. But I don’t actually need to buy anything except a few pieces of clothing, it’s more about editing the excess dishes and sheets and pots and books and such. It’s actually very freeing not to have to choose what to acquire, as it’s already there and perfectly usable. Good enough, nice enough. Not everything is what I would choose, but it’s sort of like going on a vacation and living in a furnished apartment. It may not be perfectly “your style” to every last detail, but it’s cute and cozy and functional. Only having one bag’s worth of stuff to call your own underlines the feeling of being on yes, I can’t wait to get back home while feeling like I’m on vacation at a summer cottage, and start to organize the house for real 🙂

  17. Here in Virginia, USA, we used to have what was called Blue Laws. That meant that you could not shop on Sundays for food items but amazingly, you could buy beer. I still try not to shop on Sundays but use that day for household chores, a nice brunch and dinner for my hubby and me and some downtime for reading the paper, catching up on the news and watching some shows on TV. Sometimes, I sew a little on a project but mostly just rest. It really refreshes me for the next week and I don’t mind staying at home. My husband spends his Sunday watching sporting events since as a retired man, he does a lot in the yard every week and is really resting on Sunday.
    Wanted to say something about dishes, too. I had a wonderful set of dishes for my first set and we used them everyday but they were getting very worn with chips and scratches. I only gave away 4- 5 piece place settings because I loved them so much and wanted to keep some pieces to remember the design. Now that I am decluttering in earnest, I am very tempted to give away the rest because the set is taking up a lot of space in my cupboard. I am not there yet but feel it will be soon. Think I will just keep one plate as a remembrance (a salad plate maybe) to see the design and pass along the rest. I keep thinking I will use them in the yard for cookouts but they are not in a convenient place to access them every time so still have not done that. Also, have lots of corning ware that are mine or were my mom’s. I thought one of my kids would want them but I found a 12 piece set of it for my son (with small pieces for a single person) at an estate sale when he got his first apt and he does not want mine. My daughter has her own style and it is not Corning Ware so guess I will pass them to the donation box. It is really hard for me to give away dishes that my mom loved because she worked so hard to afford them and really enjoyed cooking with them. Everything is a choice. More space by giving them to someone who can use them or keeping them just to look at. Maybe I’ll just start small and give away the larger pieces first.


  1. […] brought up an interesting declutter subject in this comment. I responded with my ideas on the topic. If anyone out there has some expertise of an opinion […]