Day 196 Keys to staying decluttered

A place for everything and everything in it’s place!

  • If you always know where everything is you won’t need to replace it because you can’t find it.

Know the difference between need and want

  • It is easy to convince yourself that something you want is something you need. Don’t be fooled by this.

Only shop for what you need

  • This one speaks for itself, if you aren’t bringing anything you don’t need into your home it will stay uncluttered.

Make it clear you don’t want clutter gifts

  • If you plan ahead with this one it will save a lot of embarrassment of refusing to accept such gifts.

Remove clutter receptacles in your home

  • Adding clutter is difficult if you have no where to store it. Things such as bookcases, display cabinets, baskets, shelves and storage containers are clutter receptacles. Get rid of them as soon as you get rid of the clutter that was in them or you may just fill them up again.

Don’t sacrifice your principals for the desires of others

  • Don’t accept other peoples clutter just so you don’t hurt their feelings. Your feelings matter too and you shouldn’t be expected to sabotage your lifestyle in this way.

Remove any items that become useless immediately

  • Lifestyle changes are inevitable as time goes by. Once an item become of no further use to you remove it from your home or once again clutter will start to develop. Just because something wasn’t clutter once doesn’t mean it won’t become clutter in the future.

It am sure there are more strategies that should be on this list but it is late and I am tired so I will leave it at that for now. If anyone has anything they think should be included please leave a comment and I will add it  and perhaps make a page of it.


Maybe I should add cancel magazine subscriptions to the list above
Sports Illustrated mags

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About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. “Make It Clear You Do Not Want Clutter Gifts”

    I like this one because it never crossed my mind how many “gifts” are given by other people that ultimately serve as clutter. Just how important it is to be aware of the type of things we personally bring in, I think so does the things given by others.

    I’m trying to think how the conversation would go. With family and close friends, I believe they wouldn’t mind. With acquaintances and others, I would hope they wouldn’t take offense but I suppose it’s also in how you let them know of the request.

    Good list.

    • Hi Reggie H,
      I just went over to have a look at your blog and I am so glad for you that you have discovered minimalism at such and early age. I bodes well for a wonderful, fullfulling life for you.

      As for having that conversation with friends and family about gift receiving, I would say judging from what I read in your post that the people around you would understand what an upstanding young person you are and would respect your wishes on this.

  2. Good post, Colleen. I especially liked the last point. Just because you needed something last year, last month, last decade, doesn’t mean you need it now.

    • Hi Willow,
      it is so true about that last point. Your kids grow and change, you get older, your hobbies change, your tastes change, you may become unable to do certain things that you used to, your priorities change…

      Thank God for change wouldn’t life be boring without it. It doesn’t always seem good at the time but every little change teaches us something.

  3. Oh this was so good to read. Such a good reminder!!! Just yesterday I cancelled all my magazine subscriptions. What I thought was once fun to read (home design and fashion magazines) has become ‘too much weight’ on my shoulders. The publications are just chalked full of ads, etc. There is always the option of getting them via e-mail/electronically if one still is interested in the publication!!!

    • Hi Annie,
      You are so right about magazine subscription in fact that was going to be what todays post was all about until I couldn’t quite get my head around what I wanted to say. You have now given me inspiration to go back to it soon and have another go. Thanks

  4. great list! the last point was the best.
    there is one thing that i would like to share with you all. while decluttering, it can b a really difficult task to identify which things you need to keep and which u can donate/throw away.
    here’s my tip: imagine all your possessions have been sold to a pawn shop (by a junkie friend or an evil in-law, whatever).
    now ask yourself: which of them would u buy back? the price doesn’t matter. i bet there will b a lot of items that u don’t wanna spend money for, however small. these r the things that need to go!
    let me know if this works for u.

    • Hi Gogol,
      a hearty welcome to you and thank you for you first comment on my blog. I like you idea so much it is going to star in tomorrow’s post. I really appreciate your input especially since it is 10:40pm and I really wasn’t too sure what I was going to write about for tomorrow. I will just edit your shorthand a little and it will be good to go. I am sure my other readers will get a kick out of it.

  5. Great tips! Knowing the difference between need and want is key to just about everything in my opinion – not just clutter. I have this ongoing battle with de-cluttering that feels like the never ending story. Just when I think “I’m done”, I realize there’s tons more I don’t really need. Example – I thought my microwave was *essential*. Nope, turns out I was wrong about that – I sold it and am doing perfectly fine without – and eating healthier too as a result! 🙂

    • Hi Tony,
      sounds like you are a lot further along this journey than I am. My microwave is still a fixture in my home. I cook a lot of curries and I make sure there are plenty of leftovers. The microwave comes in mighty handy to reheat them so I don’t have to cook every night.
      I have never found my decluttering to be a battle in any way because my one day at a time approach makes it so little of a chore that I have more problems going that slow than I do at feeling like it is an effort. And like my last key suggests just when you think you are finished something else becomes redundant. Just go with the flow I say and don’t sweat it.

  6. Colleen, do you really only declutter one thing a day? I just started my decluttering journey and I am finding piles of stuff to go in the donation box every day. Decluttering my Christmas decorations down to just a few I really find meaningful sure took a weight off…now I won’t dread the process of getting out the decorations and cluttering up the house with them! It seemed like a chore before, now it only takes a few minutes.

    • Hi Deanna,
      I actually only declutter one thing five days a week at the moment. But these days it is more of an average. Some days I might declutter a few things and then I may skip a day or two. At the start I pretty much did work on one a day though. But even then by the September I had to have decluttered enough in advance to make up for the month I spent on vacation in Italy.

      Prior to my thing a day challenge I had decluttered enough stuff to fit into the smaller house we had moved to after returning to Australia from the USA. By the time the challenge began the house was in good enough shape that aside from having a little too much furniture everything was put away neatly.

      I was content from the start to declutter at this slow pace and I am glad that I did. I had had plenty of decluttering episodes previously and by doing them quickly I did not learn the lessons I did this time. Before it was just make room for the next influx or stuff. Now it is a case of minimising for life.

      All that being said, you could possibly be in the phase that I was in prior to my thing a day challenge and just need to do a big purge first. If you are happy with that go right ahead. You might find though that eventually you will be happy to slow down. There are a lot of lessons to be learned from the stuff that you didn’t declutter on the first pass.

      Good luck and happy decluttering. If you have any more questions feel free to ask.


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