Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom ~ Something is Better Than Nothing



“If you’re going to do something, do it right.” vs. “Something is better than nothing.” Isn’t it amazing how, for every piece of folk wisdom, there is an opposite piece of wisdom? I think for decluttering, “something is better than nothing” should rule the day.

This weekend, I wanted to take the box of Easter decorations up to the attic and bring down the boxes of camping equipment. I didn’t do those things – any of them. Even though all the Easter stuff wasn’t together (the girls are still eating treats out of their baskets), I could have brought the camping equipment down. I don’t have to take one thing up before I bring another thing down. Something would have been better than nothing.

True, I’m annoyed that a certain small person made a mess on the dining room table and is now skillfully ignoring it, but there was still something I could do without feeling like I capitulated and cleaned her mess for her. The newspapers could be gathered and put into the recycling, and those towels on the table were put there by some large person doing the laundry (me) and not by some short person making a mess (her). Something would be better than the nothing that got done.

Can’t declutter your whole wardrobe today? Just declutter the shirts. Or just the short sleeve shirts. Or just the belts. Something is better than nothing.

Don’t have time to examine and deeply think about every book you might be ready to say good bye to? Make a quick trip through the shelves and pull out the books you know you’re done with. Something is better than nothing.

Know that your yard needs attention and is starting to be a cluttered landscape? Bring in one or two toys the kids have scattered or trim up one bush if that’s all you have time for. Something is better than nothing. (Then puts your tools away – you don’t need to replace one kind of clutter with another.)

Something. It is better than nothing. And something then something else then something else will eventually lead you to a decluttered house.

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter and tidy your medicine cabinet or similar storage.

Eco Tip For The Day

Save electricity close off rooms that don’t require heating or cooling. If you have a ducted system only heat or cool the rooms that need it.

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

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  1. Hi Cindy! You read my mind!!! Just before I opened the blog to read today’s post I was here wandering where I could start with all that I had to do and had been doing nothing for a while. And ta da! Here is my answer: “Something is better than nothing.” So instead of thinking about the whole big task, just do something and get started. Thanks!

  2. If handled this way, it won’t seem so overwhelming and you will accomplish small successes . . . . which are better than no successes! LOL

  3. Instead of “something is better than nothing” (which I quite like), I have been using the phrase “done is better than perfect” which was the Creative Memories slogan the year I started scrapbooking. And it was quite liberating for me to hear that and believe it (I took a really messy page home, the first I had done, and my young boys were so enthralled it really drove the point home: it was better to have the photos where they could look at them than wait until I could do the perfect layout). I’ve been able to get through a lot more stuff when I repeat the line.

  4. It was a breakthrough the day I realized this fact, but I still need to be reminded of it quite often. Thank you for doing that!

  5. When I am having a particularly unproductive day, I think that whatever I have done is “better than it was before”. There are times when I just can’t see stripping down every cabinet in the kitchen and cleaning it so I’ll just do the part that is the messiest. When that is done, I just tell myself it looks better than before. Plus, it gives me a headstart for the next time I am ready to clean it.
    I have been thinking a lot about how dusty and untidy my whole house is. I have a bad shoulder and cannot scrub with any degree of intensity so have just been putting off cleaning the baseboards and walls and doors and windows. This morning I decided that I would put something on my calendar for each day – something is better than nothing. So, on Saturday, I will just move the furniture in the living room away from the walls and dust the baseboards and mop the wood floors behind the sofa and chairs. If that is all I get done, so be it. Then, the next time, I’ll take down the curtains and wash them. Eventually, the whole house will be done but I’ll not burn out trying to do everything at one time and leaving a big mess all over the house. I think this will work for me and will let me see that something is being done, albeit slowly.
    At the same time, I can declutter a part of the room that I am working in and will leave it better than before.
    I am trying to sort a few magazines or papers every morning before I leave for work. Today, I went through some Aida cloth (for cross-stitch projects) and pulled out some pieces that I know I will never use. I am sending them to my niece who loves doing cross-stitch along with some cross stitch magazines that I also sorted this morning. I plan to make a copy of a few pages in one of two of these magazines. There are some Christmas ornament patterns that I would like to make for my grands so will make a copy so my niece will get an intact mag. My husband says he loves to see me leaving the house with a bag of something to send to someone. He says he knows I am trying to make our house less cluttered because he can see things moving out. 🙂 So, Cindy, your message today was right on point for me, too. Doing something is better than doing nothing. Every little bit helps.

  6. Cindy – thanks for the reminder – I’m off to put away the folded washing that everyone has been just stepping over!

  7. Thanks for that post!
    Our home has been a hot mess since last week. (we haven’t been at home much, so laundry piled up and then we’ve been a little sick, so noone wanted to bother with household chores). However, for a few days we are getting at it again and I always find it amazing, how soon a mess clears up, if you just “do something”. Even if you don’t do the laundry completely and even if you don’t manage to wash the whole stack of dirty dishes within one day, if you just keep doing that one load of laundry a day, the dishes twice a day (as usual) and pick up after yourself, the mess “magically” disappears after a few days. There are only so many things to pick up, only so many surfaces to clean, so if you just pick up a regular cleaning routine, any mess (as big as it may be) will eventually disappear. It’s a comforting thought.

  8. Hi Cindy. I have found myself saying this so many times. Progress not perfection is a perfectly reasonable thing to aim for. When my husband decided to start working on decluttering his office he came to me and said ‘I don’t know where to start.’ I shared my thoughts that it didn’t really matter how or where, just that he did start somewhere…anywhere. He agreed and just started in on a small project that seemed like something he could complete in an hour. That was months ago and he’s kept at it and the space is a lot more functional for him now. That is sort of how I feel about the decluttering process. It really doesn’t matter where I start, just as long as I start! 🙂 Some days I have more time/energy/attention than others but even on those slower days I try to do something. Maybe I don’t try to take on the whole wardrobe, or even tackle all of the belts. Maybe I just find one belt to get rid of while I’m standing in the closet hurrying to get dressed. That’s okay. It’s still better than leaving something I don’t use just sit there taking up space in my home forever.

  9. Continuing to love getting my daily email and the pearls of wisdom,
    Even if I don’t declutter something every day, I make sure everything goes back in its proper place so I’m not creating clutter.
    It truly is a new way of living.
    A wonderful feeling to come home to a beautiful home.
    I just decluttered my fridge by removing all the pictures, magnets, papers, invitations etc etc. What a difference.
    Plain white uncluttered surface. It certainly fits in with my attempts to create a minimalist look.
    Keep up the great work!!!!

  10. Nice last minute edition with that first paragraph Cindy. I don’t believe I read that last night when I set the post to publish. Good post altogether by the way. Something most certainly is better than nothing. Nothing will get a person nowhere in their decluttering mission.

  11. You are so right, Cindy. It has taken me forever to get that first through my head and then through Moms. We are both perfectionists in a way and then Mom doesn’t want to get rid of anything “in case” and because “it cost something.” I had a hoarding problem for paper stuff. I am looking forward to the day when I have to go to the store to buy something in order to make specific cards or if I should want to do a layout. By having such a huge supply I found myself getting tired of what I had ans wanting something new that had just come out but couldn’t justify it with so much stored up. Now I will have to really need it before going to the store.

    Mom still has a problem with doing something rather than everything or nothing. I’m working on getting her to realize that something is better and slowly many times “wins the game.”

    • My grandma has a big problem with letting things go for the same reasons that your mom comes up with! Recently she told me I was being wasteful for getting rid of so many things (I had just taken a car full of stuff to the thrift shop). I didn’t seem to be able to explain that it was more wasteful and selfish in my mind to keep my house full of things that I don’t use when another family might be able to find use for them. Ahh well. She is slowly coming a long to the idea of weeding through her massive basement and attic. Slowly. But again, something is better than nothing! 🙂

      • I had the exact same arguement with my uncle. For me the waste is if something sits unused in a basement, while for him its a waste if you give something away that you could use in a point again (or replace broken things – but thats a whole different stroy). its all about the focus you set…

  12. Applause! Applause! And isn’t amazing how those little “somethings” add up and ultimately make life so much easier in the long run?

  13. I have been going in small steps. This week I was able to declutter several things out of my wardrobe(several times this week while trying on clothes to wear for the weather change). I love that our neighborhood recently got a thrift shop box to put in used clothing and shoes. So just a quick walk down the block makes it easy to grab a few items at a time and get them out of the house. Small amount of exercise and decluttering at the same time 🙂

  14. Dizzy & Moni, your talking about Christmas storage made me think about something I heard about Sunday at church. We have a family who really go all out for Christmas decorating. I knew they had a lot of stuff but not how much until yesterday their son was telling me they have 10 Christmas trees. I guess they have a full attic above the two car garage and it is full of just Christmas decorations!!!! Now I know why they both take two days off work so that along with a weekend they can get all of the decorations up. Can you imagine!!

    • Deb J,
      Your Church friends have just introduced you to my world. I have 6 trees in various sizes and 60 tubs in various sizes and all stackable. Everything is clearly labelled and neatly packed. All my Christmas Goodies are stored in a corner of the garage and out of the way but in sight. I have and will continue to pare down a lot more that I no longer use. I love Christmas Goodies but also practice good deeds with it all. Yes, I have heaps, but it is all well used and cared for but I don’t stress myself out with it either. I don’t find it stressful to decorate mainly because I enjoy doing it. One day I may decide to give the lot away, but for now I am content to have fun with it. All the kids love it and get so much enjoyment out of seeing everything when we ‘party on’. 🙂 🙂 🙂

      • Wow, Dizzy. I’m glad you have the energy for all that Christmas Decorating. My friends seem to enjoy it and as long as they do that’s good. What a lot of stuff they have though. They also decorate a lot for Valentine’s Day, July 4th, etc.

        • Hey Deb J,
          Fortunately for me I only go over the top with Christmas. Everything else is morning tea on plain white dishes with pretty coloured napkins. I think if I had decorations for everything my significant other could be serving a sentence!!! Hahaha I’ll stick with Christmas 🙂 🙂 🙂

          • I’m a Christmas person too. I also like Thanksgiving. Other than that I can’t see all the decorating. Another area where merchandising has created the need? Anyway, if I had the physical energy and stamina I would do a lot more decorating at Christmas than I do.

  15. I really have to agree with you on this one Cindy! I decided to sort my linen press which is also storage for various other things. Well, I got about half done and thought that was enough for that day. At least the linen is one one side, the other stuff is on the other side, and a few games have gone to be decluttered. I still have more to do, but at least they are manageable jobs

  16. I enjoyed this post. Lately things have been a bit slow around here on the decluttering front, but everyday I try to accomplish something. Some days a lot gets accomplished, but if it doesn’t I don’t beat myself up, because every little bit counts for something toward my goal. I have managed to pick out five books this week that will go to the donation center, so I am really happy about that. I have been working in one of my closets. It has been a slow go, but your post today just made that point. Although it is taking me slower than I would like , I will get there with persistence and it does not have to be tackled in one day.

  17. This reminds me of a situation a few weeks ago, when I had stuff to take to Goodwill but every day for two weeks it was added to…..on and on it went and the pile in the box got bigger and bigger and started to overflow. Every day I found something to add or came across something else to consider. My daughter asked me why didn’t I just take what I had to date to the Goodwill store so it didn’t continue to stockpile in the garage and go again next week? Considering that the Goodwill store is directly on my way to work, there was no reason why I couldn’t and it would make our home look a bit tidier.

  18. Thanks for reminding us of this great piece of folk wisdom.

    All about small steps.

  19. Thanks for the incentive! Just what I needed these days. A New Baby really doesn’t make for the neatest Place – which is not a priority at the moment anyway. But it is nice to Be reminded that a few minutes here and there still make Things better.

    • Hi Ideealistin, I have been wondering if you had had the baby yet. I don’t have time to ready every comment that comes through and I fear I may have missed seeing the news somewhere. Was it a boy or a girl? What name did you choose (only if you are prepared to share of course).

      I am right at the other end of the baby scales now. My son moved out in February and my daughter is moving out on the 15th of May. My hubby and I will be empty nesters for the first time in nearly 24 years. The best part is that all their stuff is leaving with them. Yay! Also one is only five minutes away and the other will be about 45 minutes away so not to far to visit regularly.

      • Congratulations on the Empty Nest, Colleen! And how wonderful too that they are still nearby yet on their own! I can’t imagine. It must be bittersweet and mostly wonderful!

    • Congratulations on the new baby! We had one recently, and beforehand, we had decluttered very well! Some closets were still full, but everything had been gone through, and now I find myself wondering how on earth I let it all get so overwhelming again. It’s not even just baby stuff. This time around, we’ve gotten very few baby things. A crib, stroller, car seat and bouncer and feeding seat to strap on a chair. Plus clothes and a few small toys. That all looks overwhelming and makes me want to declutter more than ever! Enjoy this time! It goes so fast doesn’t it?

  20. This really rings true for me. Lately, I have been combating my procrastinating attitude by telling myself, “Just do the very next thing.” By limiting how much I need to do, to just one aspect… just that very next thing… I seem to be able to get the ball rolling, and gain momentum over the rest of the day.

  21. Congratulations to the new moms. What a wonderful, fun, difficult, sleepless time. But I wouldn’t have missed it for anything and I agree with Angela. The time goes by so fast when they are babies. Spend lots of time in the rocking chair loving and holding them.
    And Colleen, congrats on being an empty-nester. Our son moved out about 4 years ago and is relatively close by – 25 minutes and we see him about every two weeks. Now that his lawn mowing business is beginning again (his side job since he works full-time, too), we will see him every Saturday because he keeps his “gear” in our basement and shed. Tough to keep lawn mowers in a 3rd floor condo. 🙂
    Our daugher has been gone nearly 20 years – went away to college and never moved back home. The last time she was here, she finally cleaned out the last of the clothes that had been in her closet since college. We don’t see her nearly enough and as we age, the trip becomes more difficult. She lives 8 1/2 hours away and that trip really takes its toll. Especially since my husband just does not want to be away from home more than 4-5 days at a time and that includes 2 days of traveling. Anyway, we are enjoying being empty-nesters most of the time. I miss them most at holidays since we celebrate every holiday but we send the “grands” gifts and talk to them often. I will say it is very nice not to have to cook for more than 2 (took a while to get used to that) and not to have to poll everyone to decide on where or what to eat or what movie to see. Enjoy every moment. Life is precious!

  22. Cindy – if you are still out there – I am still chugging my way thru the Coutner Top Kitchen Class book – am on my 2nd renewal with the library, but I’m hanging in there. There are some real gems of knowledge and wisdom in the book.

    • I’m out here Moni. Glad you’re enjoying the book. I thought there were some real nuggets of wisdom too. Since reading it, we’ve gotten even better about eating all the leftovers, and I don’t feel uneasy when I can see the back of the refrigerator.

      • Cindy – there are wonderful recipes to make out of specific left overs – dare I say it, sometimes the left-over meal is better than original. Now when I’m making garlic bread (all those years of buying pre-made garlic bread!!!!) I have to make an extra bagette’s worth for mini pizza’s the next day (these are devine) and potato salad I have to make a double batch to make pizza-pancake – yum yum!

        I’m going to speed re-read the book with a note book and write down the gems of wisdom. It can get a bit memoir-ish in places but then up pops a gem and you realise where she was going with it.

  23. Moni and Cindy,
    What is this book you all are talking about? Sounds like something I would want to read, too. Can you tell us the title?

  24. I love to decorate at Christmas but since the kids have been gone, I do less than before. Last year was a pretty sparsely decorated house because I spent 3 weeks in the hospital in Sept and Oct and was still not up to par by the time the holidays rolled around. For the other holidays, I usually just change my tablecloth on the dining room table – red for Valentines, blue for Easter, orange for Thanksgiving and football season. I have some very small decorations that go in the middle of the table and that is it for me. I do like to see what other people do but just don’t take the time myself.
    Thanks for the name of the book. I’ll look for this at the library tomorrow.