Clutter from by gone days

How much space is taken up in your home with clutter from the person you once were. Do you still have…

  1. Sports equipment the will never be used again.
  2. Clothes that no longer fit.
  3. Musical instruments that you never really learned to play.
  4. College papers that are long out of date.
  5. Hobby supplies that you lost interest in some time ago.
  6. Music that you are embarrassed to say you once loved.
  7. Love letters from a faded romance.
  8. Books you read once and will never read again.
  9. Enough linen, crockery, cutlery etc to cater for your family of five when now it is just the two of you.
  10. Shelves of bric-a-brac that you no longer have the energy to dust.
  11. Tools in the garage that you no longer have the dexterity to use.
  12. Eyeglasses from when your vision was much closer to 20 20.
  13. Business suits from the job you retired from years ago.
  14. Supplies to put on those elaborate dinner parties you no longer could be bothered catering for. A simple meal with friends is now more your style.
  15. Gardening tools from a era gone by when you had the time to garden.

Like most lists of clutter this one could go on and on but I think you get the picture.

I know I will never play softball again, my shoulder is damaged enough from that previous life. I have let go of items of clothing that are not really suited to me now that I am in my mid forties. I have let go of my cross-stitch fabrics because there is little chance that I will go back to that craft. I prefer sensible shoes to high heals that kill my feet (Give me comfort over vanity any day).I have downsized my dining suite because 90% of the year there are only three of us eating at it. The ski equipment is gone because we no longer live near ski fields.  As I mentioned on Tuesday, the storage containers are being decluttered because I refuse to go back to the level of clutter I once owned. And there are many more things that I have let go of that no longer fit with my current life.

There is no shame in moving on to the next phase of your life and there is no point desperately clinging on the the past. Be happy with the person you are now, embrace the new you. Let go of the items from your past that, if you are realistic, you know you no longer need. They are just cluttering up your life and holding you back.

Today’s Declutter Item

One thing I know I won’t be needin is baby clothes. I am not sure why I have held on to these ones. Probably because one of the grandmothers made them for my daughter. I am only keeping the really significant baby items to pass on to my kids. The little DUCATI sweater I knitted that both kids wore, the layette by mum made for when I brought my daughter home from the hospital and a couple of other items. 

Baby Clothes

Something I Am Grateful For Today

I am glad that the customers and nearby business people are starting to get to know me at the thrift shop. I know some of them by name now and vice versa and I am really feeling at home there. I always seem to get more satisfaction from jobs that I make no money from.

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. This is an excellent list. Every one of those tips is useful and the kind of thing I take into consideration in decluttering. If we all followed these tips we would go far in our decluttering! Its good to acknowledge that there are different phases in life and that we don’t have to follow the same hobbies and pursuits, fashions and tastes, during our whole life.

    You haven’t heard from me in months because I moved — only 1.5 miles away from where I was, but still it was a big move. I’m glad I’d been decluttering all along, although there still was plenty to contend with. We gave away over 400 books, and many boxes of other things. There’s nothing more motivating than a move. We decluttered as we packed, until it was too late to do any more drop-offs to charities, and so the rest we had to take with us. We are still decluttering as we unpack. I’m getting familiar with the places in my community where you can give away light fixtures, furniture, books, clothes, etc. Though we moved to a bigger home, there is actually much less storage space here and so we still need to downsize. End result: more spaciousness with less clutter! My one piece of advice: give yourself more than one week to pack up after living in one place for 17 years. That gives you more time to donate stuff to charities before the move.

    • Hi Eve,
      welcome back, although it has actually only been a month. I am glad your move went of well and you have managed to declutter at set down what you couldn’t get done beforehand. Better late than never. It must feel great being at the other end and having go much less stuff weighing you down. I am excited for my next more so I can see how much fewer boxes it will take to pack us up.

    • Hi Eve,
      An even better motivator for decluttering than moving house: the thought that, with your ill-health or age, your daughter may have to face it for you!! That works for me 🙂

      • Ann, I got a laugh from your note, because my daughter is 10 and is totally messy (despite my training)! I would hate to have her in charge of my home. But I do get your point, and am glad my own mother is decluttering on a daily basis too, so someday I won’t have to for her.

  2. Such a great list! I really enjoyed this post.

    • Hi Juhli,
      I am glad you enjoyed it.
      Off the subject altogether ~ I was dreaming about your name in a dream last night. Not in the context of it being your name but something altogether different. When we visited Sorrento on our last Italy trip the conductor on the train stuck his head out the door before the train departed each station and said a word that sounded like Juhli. For the life of me I can not figure out what that word was. Of course my husband and I made a joke of it making up a story that the conductor has lost his girlfriend and was looking for her at every station (clowns). 😉 I am not even sure now how it fitted into the dream but I know it featured. And here you are the first comment I see this morning.

  3. I just found your blog via Minimalist Packrat. I LOVE it! Decluttering is by far my #1 hobby! I just got rid of a lot of stuff from my memory box too-what great timing to find your blog 🙂 Looking forward to more inspirational ways to pare down!

    • Hi Megyn and welcome to 365 Less Things. Of course I went over to check out your blog and I chose your Letting Go post to include in my Favourite Five links on Friday (tomorrow). I am about due for another round through the memory boxes in our house too. Like you I have been avoiding them fro a while now but it is time, I think, to take another look.

  4. Hey Colleen, I’ve long mused how you keep up with us all (I’d love to have a memory like yours) – do you have a spreadsheet with little notes, and posts etc – you also always know a new poster. It’s amazing!

    4. I’m good at getting rid of. Alas my colleague here is studying what and where I did, and I have ditched all my stuff (it’s almost 3 years since I finished). I hate that I couldn’t share my well known, neat notes with someone else – I should have let the last colleague keep them, and then pass them on as required! Rather than get them back! A lesson learnt.

    7. Oh… no… Love letters. I like those memories, that I was loved. I did go through a box of letters from when I was overseas recently. I put them in order first. A few days later I tossed the ones from my grandma. She’s still alive (albeit in hospital), but her letters had no value – they were ‘it was sunny today, your cousin played soccer at x and lost’ – really no sentiment I need to keep.

    The thing I get weird about is the tracking of history. I always think ‘what if I was called up in a trial’ and I need X to jog my memory. Totally unlikely, but it’s my reason I hear over and over!!

    • Hi Snosie,
      it is a shame you didn’t have those notes to pass on but if you let that bother you, you would never get rid of anything and keep having the boomerang effect happening. My advice about tracking your history is to start using something like google calendar.

      As for keeping a track of new people commenting, that is simple. When a new person comments the comment comes through as Unapproved and I have to approve all new commenters. It can trick me up though when a commenter changes their email address, they will then come through as new again. My memory however is usually good enough for me to recognise who they are. I do remember certain details about all of my regular commenters though. I do have several Debs and Lenas though which can get me quite confused, the lenas don’t comment as often but all of the Debs are very regular and I just about need a spreadsheet on them.

      • That’s solved the mystery. I’m glad my computer mostly stores the email address for your site, so I don’t have the option to type it in wrongly!

        I’m a google cal convert now, but alas, not in the olden days. I still have a paper catch all, cause at the doctor, I can’t recall sufficiently without it written down (I don’t have a smart phone)

        • Those smart phones sure are handy. I have my daughters old iPhone and I use the camera and the notes ap to keep stack of things I find interesting when I am out.

  5. A great list. I remember some years back going through two cedar chests (hope chests?) of things my mother had been holding onto. many were things that she “kept for you and your brother.” She had baby outfits, blankets, quilt squares, a couple of quilt tops, art work, and on and on. They were stuffed with stuff. We took it all out and when we were done we put nothing back in. We only kept a small box of things. Neither my brother or I have kids so there is no one to pass things on to if they wanted them. All the baby clothes we passed on to a very good friend who loved them. The rest we either took to a thrift store or gave to someone who could use the item(s) (like the quilting stuff went to a quilter). I already had two quilts that had been made and finished by family so I didn’t need unfinished things. After clearing out all the stuff from the chests, we sold the chests to an antique dealer. It felt good getting rid of all that stuff we had been moving around the country since I was small.

    • Hi Deb J,
      I think you will find that this happens more often than most people would think. People saving things for others who have no desire to keep them that is. At lease you and your brother had the common sense to get rid of the stuff and not keep it out of obligation.

  6. Morning Colleen and everyone, great post. I did the big ditch of stuff after l got divorced. Shredded the old paperwork, got rid of cards and letters, ripped up photos..including wedding ones………lol…..
    Plus we had a garage sale back then and got rid of a lot of old stuff that you have listed above. So l think l’m pretty much on top of that – we will be having another garage sale soon to expel the other odds and ends left behind (not nearly as much stuff as there was previously).
    I don’t regret throwing anything out……except one category of “stuff” l been thinking about lately. It was a group of life drawing sketches l did back in high school. They were just basic charcoal on butchers paper, l don’t know why but l would like to go through them now and see how good (or bad) they actually were. It’s funny, don’t know why l am thinking of those. Maybe someone can analyse that for me 😉

    • Hi Felicity,
      That purge sounds like it was more therapeutic as it was a simple decluttering of things you no longed cared about. Moving on can be easier when the objects of the past aren’t lingering and taunting you with memories lost dreams. You would probably be purging those old drawings too if they were actually there to decide upon. We sometimes just get a little “romantic” about things that are outside of our reach.

    • Oh, Felicity, you said the magic words “analyse that for me” 🙂

      Have you been thinking of that time of your life (high school) for some reason? Have you been considering doing something creative and wondering if you still have an interest in, or a talent for, drawing? Has someone you know been talking about their artwork and it’s reminding you of yours?

      I am kidding a little bit but I’m also intrigued by your question. If you figure it out, let us know!

      • Hi Jo, thanks for weighing in on this topic.

        Maybe it is the considering doing something creative thing – because nothing else sort of fits….no l haven’t been thinking about high school…..l barely remember any of it (l’m one of those people who sometimes can’t remember what l did last week)……and haven’t been talking to anyone about artwork.

        I remember them as being good sketches, so l will stick with that memory and call myself a “creative type” 🙂

        • Your analysis is herewithin complete!!! 🙂 Let that all go…

          Now go take a drawing class. SUCH FUN!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  7. Gosh, I’m so UNsentimental about my kids’ baby stuff! I think I’ve kept one tiny windcheater, bought just when I knew I was pregnant for the 1st time, and worn by both kids. I had some lovely hand-knitted cardis, etc but gave them all away without a 2nd thought 🙂

    I’ve done most of your list apart from the sports equipment. My daughter and I each have a pair of rollerblades that we rarely use (we prefer biking) and I’m waiting to see where we move to, and see if it’s rollerblade friendly. If not, out they go!

    • Hi Loretta,
      I would hold on to those roller blades too for the time being. I think I would use mine on the great trail near my house if some creature hadn’t chewed the straps off them when we lived in America and I had to throw them out. Maybe if a pair come through the thrift store I could buy them and try them out again. Then if I find out I am kidding myself I can just donate them back.

      • “Some creature chewed the straps off” – this sounds interesting.

        Two thoughts on this:

        (1) What kind of creature?
        (2) “Clutter pests”!!! I’m picturing a post on this topic – pests that love clutter – and I don’t mean our significant others!

        • Hi Jo,
          I assume the creature was a rat. We had a problem with rats in our roof space so I also imagine that it was a rat in the garage too. It didn’t bother anything else, just ate the straps off my rollerblades. Thank God they didn’t get into the living space, that’s all I can say.

  8. I am in the midst of decluttering our garage for our eventual downsizing. It is a huge job. Just to let you know a little about me, I am a “sentimental” clutterer, so that is the biggest hurdle I face when decluttering.
    I just threw out all my paperwork from college and from an occupation I no longer work at or ever will again. (I graduated from college 35 years ago!!) Although it was amusing to see that everything was typed on a manual typewriter with carbon paper and erasers and there were no computers back then, I realized that all the information I had stored is now available on the internet and there is no need to store information in paper form. The only thing not available would be those term papers that I could show my children what it was like in the “old days,” but I quickly realized the kids don’t really care what it was like in the old days.
    Also among the papers were less than stellar work evaluations that only made me feel bad when I reviewed them, so I was actually happy to let them go.
    I ended up only keeping my acceptance letter to college (which I will scan) and put in my sometime-to-be-completed photo book.

    • Hi Diane,
      welcome to 365 Less Things and thank you for sharing your sentimental decluttering experience with us. Hopefully over time we might cure you of your sentimental cluttering or at least help you to pare it down to a more acceptable level. 35 year old college papers are certainly redundant on pretty much all counts. Realising that your kids didn’t care to see the evidence of history is key to letting go. I know my kids are mildly amused when my husband and I tell them stories of “the old days” but aside from they they don;t need any visual reminders except old photos of us that they can have a good laugh at. Now that you have that task out of the way you can start on the next one.

  9. Oh wow, this is so right on!!! I went through all our sporting goods stuff – this is a tough one for us. Our permanent home is in the Rocky Mountains (USA)…we’re big skiers, hikers, climbers, mountain bikers, love to snowshoe, play tennis, etc. The best I could do was to declutter stuff that no longer fits the kids and was ruined and/or no longer safe to use. The rest of it I reorganized and stored it all together. Several months ago I did part with mountaineering items from my single life (pre-husband, pre-kids). Those items truly I haven’t used in over 10 years, and they were just loosing life span rotting away being folded/rolled up, etc. So now their life span is good for someone else (that which was still safe and usable was either given away or sold on ebay).

    Great post, as always. It so got me up off the ‘couch’ (aka: away from the solitaire on the computer) and put me to work!!! 🙂

    • Hi Annabelle,
      mmmm solitaire a great use of your spare time. Oh who am I kidding I do the daily jigsaw everyday at Well done with the sporting equipment. I still have a couple of Liam’s little league baseball mitts that are destined for eBay next week.

  10. p.s., oh that DARLING baby outfit, the pink top and hat, the so cute little white booties!!!! I would’ve taken that off your hands in a heart beat…my daughter loves real baby clothes for her baby dolls (usually premie sizes!). I refuse (REFUSE, WILL NOT, NO WAY) to purchase packaged baby doll clothing in the toy isle. It is much more fun and economical to find clothing items for her babies in the thrift store baby section!!! We’ve even found matching mommy/baby outfits (love Laura Ashley from years gone by) that she can play dress up in and with her baby dolls, etc. SOOO Fun for her and sooo cute!

    • Hi Annabelle,
      clever idea to buy the baby clothes from the thrift store for your daughters doll. It pays to have a doll just the right size for baby clothes.

  11. Love this post. I think I’ll have a decluttering honeymoon,LOL. Yes really, I can feel the itch to ditch* coming on…

    *ditch = pass on, recycle etc

  12. This is an excellent decluttering list.

    My dh is a collector of all sorts of things, and it’s almost impossible for him to get rid of anything (though he’s starting to get a little bit better at it lately).

    I’ve been trying to tell him for the last few years that it would be better for him to declutter his shop NOW (he is 64), rather than keep postponing it, and then be out there trying to declutter all that heavy stuff when he is 70.

    That’s why I like to declutter regularly. Not only do I not want to leave a ton of stuff for my daughter to have to dispose of when I’m gone, but I’m not 20 any more, and there’s just not enough energy now to stumble around piles, keep moving stuff to dust or clean, etc.

    If more people would learn to declutter as they go, there would be a lot less families having to face massive decluttering projects when loved ones pass on.

    • Hi Becky,
      we hear you here mate. Too many of our lovely readers have gone through that awful experience of that massive clean out after a loved one has passed on. The only good thing that comes out of it is that they then pledge not to do it to their own families.

      Have you ever watched that pickers show on TV where the two antique store owners go out picking through peoples collections of “stuff” (usually massive amounts of stuff amassed over years). The stuff in usually everywhere, in sheds, in their homes, in the house they acquired next door, sitting out rusting all over their property. Quite often these people are ageing and I can’t help but think what their relative will have to face when they pass on. Most of the time they are still acquiring stuff to add to the collection.

      I am trying to convince my mother-in-law to declutter. The last time I visited her we spent a couple of days doing gardening and cleaning. At some point a person has to realise that they can’t manage to take care of all that stuff any more.

  13. Oh Katharine I love that expression: “itch to ditch”. I just have to use it somewhere – probably on FaceBook if I ever figure out their new format. If you don’t mind, that is.

  14. Hi Colleen! I had my clutter from by gone days in lots and lots of boxes! Now I have two boxes but it still too much. I am still thinking of what to do. Great post as usual!

    • Hi Andréia,
      so long as the clutter is gradually diminishing there is not hurry to make rash decisions on the things that really mean something to you. So take your time, just not forever!

  15. Oh no! Played daily jigsaw and got addicted! 😀 😀 😀

  16. Hi all, just had to subscribe OMG I love this site, I think mostly because it has proved to me that my voyerism of all the known sites and shows on the net etc has paid off with an outlet for me to vent in!! I truely believe that although I am a clutter-bug that “is getting around to it” constantly and consistently, I just have to share my “aha” moments! Firstly my house is disorganised to me but to everyone else it seems so together and with it and tidy! As an avid reader I happened across a book somewhere and it sang to me “Clear your Clutter with Feng Shui” now I bought this book 1. because I love the concept of Feng Shui and 2. I was cluttered up because we were moving house and I had so many what people now refer to as WTH!!!! moments. Or WTF!!!! moments, I packed up all our stuff and happily huffed and puffed along side my beautiful and patient hubby trudging back and forth, box after box of our life! 168 boxes of various sizes filled with ‘precious’ and ‘useful’ and ‘i’ll sort it out when I unpack at the other end boxes’ this # only includes the inside of the house! for everyone’s sake I’ll leave the garage and storage area for another day! This was all FIVE YRS AGO and in that time we have managed to pare down and sort and purge and eradicate & scream and procrastinate and squabble and in general feel downright crappy!!! But as I said I still have stuff! I have learnt along the way to pack it nicely in pretty boxes and honour my stuff!!! As much as I love my above mentioned book my true “AHA” moment came when I was in the bookstore buying a gift card for a birthday pressie (coz I refuse to buy any gifts unless it is really needed so everyone gets a card to spend on choosing their own clutter!!!!) There it was another book that just sang to me “It’s all too MUCH” OMG! moment #1 234 567!
    I read this book and laughed my butt off the chair. I actually thought Peter Walsh had been in my houses over the years and was garnering all the info he could and put it all in a book and just gave me different names and genders! I was every chapter in that book and every person within those pages he wrote about and every room he described belonged to me!!! So now that my voyerism of clutter sites has led me here I just wanted to let you all know that you can find very inventive ways to hide it, dress it, even turn it into furniture but IT IS ALWAYS GONNA BE THERE UNLESS YOU DO THE TASK!! I call it the 3 t’s – TAKE it out – get it out of where it’s hiding
    TALK to it – tell it it has done it’s job (If it really has)
    TOSS it out in whatever form is required to get rid of it from your life – Binned, donated, passed onto whatever! As I write this I just want to let you know it didn’t happen overnight but it did happen and is still happening and will continue to happen because I still have clutter! I love Christmas and Crafting and my son & I dance so we have costumes and paraphenalia that go with our crafts, and my hubby collects so we have an ongoing quest! I love the name of this site too and I am happy to say I just filled several boxes with 365 items to be donated to my sons school when it starts up again next term! There is light at the end of my tunnel and it is getting brighter! XXX

    • Wow Dizzy, for a first comment that was a doozy (my goodness that word even passed spell check, I must be improving). First let me extend to you a hearty welcome to 365 Less Things and thank you for sharing your story with us. I have heard of both of those books although I haven’t read either of them I did just finish reading Lighten Up by Peter Walsh and it was very good. I write pretty much completely from my crazy experience with my own clutter. Sharing the tips, tricks and idea that form in my head as I go along on my journey. It sounds to me like you have found a good balance between reducing your clutter and living life to the full. Good for you! I also liked your 3 t’s especially the talk to it part. I like to think of it as analysing it in order to be realistic about how useful it is to you, thank it for its service or even apologise for wasting its time and then let it go..

      I feel that we are going to be hearing a lot more from you and look forward to you imparting your wisdom here for me the other readers to soak up. I think you might have a lot of energy to add to the conversation. Welcome aboard.

  17. Dizzy I just know how you feel. I too am a crafty person and have much craft.
    of late after MIL dying five years ago and not be able to part with all her things I know that I do not want to leave all my STUFF for my kids to sort.
    We seem to have so much stuff these days and I think its because we did’nt have much as kids.
    I love this site too as I am also along with everyone else on the journey to decluttering and simplifiing our lives.

    • Hi Denise,
      welcome to 365 Less Things and thank you for dropping by to leave a comment. I think we have so much stuff these days because someone invented credit cards, no other reason. Don’t feel too bad I am a crafty person too and although I have sold and given away a LOT of craft stuff since I started my declutter journey I still have LOTS left in my craft room. Now I seem to be able to find little time to do anything with it. My blog keeps me so busy these days. With that in mind I am actually at a bit of a loose end at the moment and I might just go up and start working on my Christmas cards since November is almost upon us.