Decide ~ Divide ~ Conquer


Because of the way I have chosen to declutter ~ slowly and steadily ~ the decision making process is gradual and so far painless. Once I set myself on this path to declutter an average of one thing a day I, by design, have given myself permission to take my time to make informed and considered decisions. Hasty decision making can be a recipe for disaster and an invitation for regrets further down the line.

When I first began my mission there were plenty of items in my home that I knew I no longer wanted to take up space. I began my decluttering process with these items, which was carried out with ease. All the while I was examining my space to identify other items that weren’t really in my radar to begin with. While taking care of the easy stuff my mind was contemplating whether or not I was prepared to part with those items that I considered to be on a higher level of attachment.


Once I made the decision that something had to go, which now turns out to be easier than I first imagined, I then have to divide it from the herd. That is, remove it from its usual position in the house and place it in its point of departure. I have the following departure points located around my home…

  1. The bin ~ to which very few items have actually gone so far. Oddly enough this ratio doesn’t change much over time because bin items for me are usually natural declutter items that wear out or break over time and are no longer useful to anyone. Being that my clutter situation was never a case of being littered with useless items, this category of items has been limited and sporadic. I am pleased about this because it feels a lot less wasteful to me but at the same time ashamed of the fact that I had so much stuff that was sitting here unused yet useful to someone else.
  2. The recycling bin ~ Items that have gone there are usually paperwork that has long needed clearing or an overabundance of paper keepsakes that I weeded through and thinned down. Sometimes there have been metal and recyclable plastic objects put there as well.
  3. The selling departure point ~ this is generally on top of my sewing cabinet in our office space. Sometimes these item sit there for much longer than I would like because we can get a little lazy about actually listing them. Sometimes my husband has already listed them and they didn’t sell and I don’t realise it. Then they sit there until one day I say to him ~ “What is happening with these items.” The answer is often “They didn’t sell and are just waiting for you to do what you want with them.” Too bad I’m not a mind reader, 🙄 the process may go a lot quicker.
  4. The donation pile ~ This area for me is in the garage right next to the door. I deliberately position it where I will see it often as a constant reminder to take it to the thrift store when there is enough to make the trip worth the effort. This generally happens when my husband goes out of town on business because I have open access to the car. I also put Freecycle items near this area until the appointed collection day.

I have never been tempted to bring anything back into the house because I have given myself ample opportunity to consider my decisions and am satisfied with them. If you struggle with this at all I would suggest getting the items out of the house as quickly as possible. Any items I am not sure about, can’t be bothered immediately selling or I feel I want to document before decluttering I just leave in place until I am good and ready. There is always other items that can be dealt with in the meantime.


Finally having the clutter completely out of my home is what I consider conquering the clutter. The feeling of satisfaction and freedom that comes with every load I deliver to the thrift store, every eBay auction item I post, every Freecycle pick up completed, every “use it up” item whose remnants go in the trash or recycling is like heaven to me. It is a great relief to have decided what can be decluttered, it feels even better when they are separated from the keepers and moved to their departure point but it feels wonderful when they are actually gone.


Excess Coat Hangers

Today’s declutter item

I gave these coat hangers to my mum and dad when the came to visit. They took them home in their suitcase. I meant to give them more but I forgot to get them out of the box in the garage. Hopefully my friend Amber will take the rest from me today.

Grateful List

  • Something awesome ~ Sitting on my back patio enjoying my lunch the temperature in 24ºC, the sun is shining and the birds are singing.
  • Something that made me laugh ~ Liam making fun of me for saying something silly. Nothing new about that.
  • Something to be grateful for ~ Pest control. That cockroach that interrupted my nice lunch on the patio won’t last long after crawling all over the insect spray the pest man laid down a month or so ago.
  • Something that made me happy ~ Finally clearing all the photos on my camera’s memory card.
  • Something I found fascinating ~ That I think my MacBook Pro automatically adjusts its brightness setting for different light. When I came in from being out on the patio the screen was quite dark. Perhaps I should have waited to see if it adjusted again but I didn’t. I will have to experiment with it when I am not so busy. 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. Love it! Most of my clutter also went to the thriftstore. And, a lot went to paperrecycling. I did put (in ratio) a lot of my stuff in the bin because I owned a looooot of useless or broken (and which couldn’t be repaired) clutter. But, I do feel that what could be donated, sold or recycled, did not end up in it.

    • Hi Nurchamiel,
      that is great, keeping the landfill to a minimum is very important but if something is at the end of its usefulness then there is nothing else for it but to go in the trash. It often worries me that some people may be too focused on minimal waste that they continue to hoard worthless objects in their homes for want of not appearing wasteful. Trash is trash no matter where it is, better to be in landfill than turning ones home into a dumping ground.

  2. What a good overview of the whole process, Colleen. It’s good to get the big picture every now and then; it ties together all the daily tips.

  3. Right now I have three bags of items waiting to go to the thrift store. Usually, the rescue mission calls and schedules a pickup. We recycled a car last week on Craig’s List! From purchasing a new(er) vehicle to selling the old(er) one was only 48 hours! Go us!! I’m certainly looking forward to the school summer break so I can declutter all the extra class papers I have right now–more recycle!

    • Hi Willow,
      We don’t have those charities that come and pick donations up from your front door here in Australia like you do in America. I miss that, I used to hang out for their phone call to tell me when they would be around. That did make decluttering a whole lot easier. It does however scare me to think about how much stuff I gave them combined with how much stuff I have decluttered since I arrived back in Australia. I must have been contributing far too much to supply and demand those days.
      I hope your new car performs well for you and is fuel efficient. Happy recycling of school papers as well.

      • Yes, the new to us car should actually give us better gas mileage. It was a case of buying before we HAD to in an imergency. If my husband is anything, he’s cautious about purchasing cars.

        I read your reply to my comment about the desk. Yes, it’s a constant unending problem at my desk because I use it for work and computing and have NO drawers.

  4. Hi Colleen. Your post just got me finishing a big task I had been putting of. Clean my back yard. It’s not a yard, no trees, or grass, just tiles, dog poo (yuck!), and lots of things on the floor (shovel, some gardening tools, and other stuff that I really can’t name in English because I don’t know, :-D). The place was dirty and a mess. I was ignoring it, until today I couldn’t take it any longer. It took me two hours, but I got the place clean. Not only clean, but totally organised. I was so proud of myself! And I didn’t take a single item from that place and stored elsewhere. And I also made sure the place was easy to maintain clean and organized. I was so happy that I wanted to have a barbecue just to show everyone how nice the place looked 😀 😀 :-D.

    • Hi Andreia,
      you so just gave me something to write in my gratitude today under the heading “Something that made me laugh”. I can’t believe you know the English words for Dog Poo but not for other things in your back yard. I laughed and laughed when I read this. Now I want to know what those other things are please use Google translater and let me know what they are.

      I am glad that my blog has inspired you to tackle the back yard and that you feel proud of yourself for the effort and pleased with the result. I hope you have someone to invite over for that BBQ.

      • Hi Colleen. Well I was a teen when Iived in England, and not very keen on gardening (still not) so my vocabulary in this area is very sparse and limited. But Google has seen me through: a had a hand cart, that I hang on a hook next to the wall, a big hoe, a small hoe, that also gets hung so they won’t be on the floor getting rusty. I had gardening scissors, that were so rusty I coludn’t move them, so they went to the bin. There was also two broomsticks (why they were there in the first place is still a mystery to me), an old dustpan, also ruined, and all these things went to the rubbish. Should have taken before and after pictures, but I can send you after pictures :-D. I have family and friends to invite, but it is getting cold over here. But it will still be clean and nice by next summer.

        • Hi Andreia,
          thanks for clearing that up for me, you did very well indeed. I love google translate and I use it often.
          It is getting cooler over here too. I love this time of year, not to hot not too cool a bit like baby bears porridge. 🙂
          I have been meaning to ask you to send me a copy of your avatar photo so I can see you properly. Just email it to me if you are willing.

  5. Oh I forgot to mention there was a rusty machete back there that was used for gardening. It always gave me the hives so today i got rid of it. Now the back yard is a safe place for my kids to play. 😀

  6. Well, I guess we non-native speakers sometimes lack the simplest words. I can so relate to you Andreia! We learn from teachers, literature, movies and today of course from the internet – but some basic words never seem to come to our attention until the situation we need them. Yay to and google translator! And thank you to all the native speakers here not picking on us. I’ve seen people being really snotty and grammar/spelling police-ish on other blogs or forums. Guess where I never commented …

    • Hi Ideealistin,
      I am constantly in awe of people who can speak more than one language. I have a very tiny smattering of French but am too embarrassed to try to use it when I visit France. Can’t shut me up the rest of the time but when I have to speak a foreign language I suddenly go mute. My husband on the other hand is as quiet as a mouse most of the time but unashamedly will attempt to speak other languages in other countries no matter how ridiculous he sounds. I still get the giggles when I think of one incident from our last Italy trip. 😆
      I have a hard enough time getting English correct. I never was a great speller and my grammar can be appalling as well at times. You can probably tell this from the way I write my blog but that is OK I am not here to teach people English. I have had the odd grammar/spelling police person berate me but I do my best not to take it to heart. I find it frustrating at times when I write a comment on other blogs and wish I could take it back because once I have hit the publish button I realise I have spelled or written something wrong but you don’t have to worry about that here because I edit those mistakes out of my readers comments so they don’t feel foolish.
      Thank you for making the effort to read and comment to my blog in what isn’t your native tongue.

  7. Oh Colleen you are so nice to us! I rememeber just a few weeks ago I wrote a huge e-mail spelling “rid” as “hid”, and you politely wrote the right word withtout mentioning it. I learned to spell it the right way, and thought you were so nice! Other native speakers might correct me and be very rude about it. So anytime you want to learn to speak my language I’ll be very helpful and nice to you. :-DDD

    • Thank you sweetie, it is always my pleasure. Maybe one day I will take you up on those language lessons but teaching me may be a bigger challenge for you than decluttering ever was. 😆
      I dislike it even when a person says the wrong word in conversation and even though someone else knows exactly what they meant they find it irresistible to correct them. I never do this because I just think it is unnecessary and it makes the other person feel foolish. I prefer they don’t even correct themselves and always attempt to put them at ease by saying I understood what they meant if they do.