Happiness Is My Declutter Goal

As you all know I dole out a lot of suggestions about what to declutter. I even put forward formulas on how many is enough of anything to keep. It is no secret that I’m not a lover of gadgets that are only useful if you perform a task in large quantities and/or frequently. Dusting is certainly not my favourite pastime so nicknacks are no longer my thing. For one thing they require somewhere to be displayed which means excess furniture which takes up space and requires more dusting. Practicality is important to me while status symbols aren’t, so I don’t need fancy things on show to prove anything to anyone. That is not to say that I don’t like beautiful object of which I certainly have a few that I enjoy. And I like to have enough craft supplies on hand to be creative when I feel the urge. Not too many of course…. Therefore my decluttering goal is simply this ~ to reduce my belongings to a point that I am happy with the result.

You, on the other hand, may love your nicknacks and get joy out of dusting them for the chance to admire them up close. You might also entertain a lot so prefer to be sure you have enough of everything on hand to cater to a crowd. You could find that the finicky cleaning of kitchen gadgets is worth the time they save you during the cooking process. And when out in public you perhaps feel more comfortable smartly dressed in designer clothes and don’t wish to be seen in the same outfit on a too regular basis. You might find your home to be more homely with lots of furniture to adorn it. But crafting supplies are of no importance to you what so ever and waste no space in your home… Nonetheless your decluttering goal is the same as mine. You wish to declutter to a point where you are happy with the volume of your belongings.

Decluttering isn’t a one size fits all situation. What I require or desire could be completely different to you. However we all want to feel happy and comfortable in our own homes and that should be the only goal each of us sets.

Today’s Mini Mission

Do the same for your crockery as you did yesterday for your cutlery. If you have too much let some go. I ran out of cups one evening when friends came back for coffee and cake after being out for dinner together. The problem wasn’t that I didn’t have enough I just should have put the dishwasher on before we left.

Eco Tip for the Day

Save electricity by not turning on electrical appliances, like irons, hair straighteners etc, too long before you use them and by not leaving them on while you decide to take a break during the task.

For a full list of my eco tips so far click here

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. Hi Colleen! I guess that is what really works. We all have different needs and lifestyles and in our case we live in different contries, so what is good for you may not be good for me. I think throughout your blog we can see that whenever you suggest a certain amount of stuff, you always say that anyone following that should also take in account their own lifestyle, needs and household. That is why your blog works for so many people. There is not a set number, an ideal, the goal is to be confortable in our homes with only the stuff we really use, you always say that. So, keep up the good work with this blog it helps a lot of people. 😀

    • Thanks Andréia, I am glad I get that message across. People wouldn’t come here unless they feel like they have too much but when they decide to declutter it is best they remember that clutter is different for everyone. My husband often reminds me of this. Probably because it is mostly his stuff in my sights there days. 😉

      I feel it necessary to repeat this message on a regular basis so people don’t feel compelled to get rid of stuff they don’t really want to just to conform to some sort of minimalist ideal.

    • OOOhhhh i so agree I haven’t been about much as I have been busy but your comment was so true to form. Keep up the great work Colleen and everyone else. I just love 365 Less things, and the new look, well done 🙂 🙂 🙂

  2. Colleen, you are right. Happiness with what you have is the goal. Some people may never be happy because they want what they can’t afford. For most of us though, we do have a happy place and are working toward that. I really do think we have a great group here and it’s all thanks to you. Thanks so much for this great blog.

    • Thank you Deb J. Happiness with what we own is what it is about. Not matter how little or how much stuff that amounts too. I think we all know how much is too much for us and I think the slow and steady pace gives us time to reassess that as we go along. Sometimes we end up happily decluttering more things than we ever thought we would. And sometimes we surprise ourselves by keeping things we thought we would once we get to a point where we think enough decluttering is enough. I haven’t got to that point yet but one day I will. All in good time.

  3. Well said today. Everyone’s state of happiness, when it comes to the amount of stuff we have or don’t have, is so individual. The amount, or even particular items, that may be right for one person, may not be for another. We just have to find what suits each one of us, and enjoy the process also, of finding that happy medium. Being satisfied, enjoying and having contentment with what you have, will bring that happiness. I am just thankful for a blog that helps me consider things daily and that challenges me to think about what amount is right for me.

    • I couldn’t have put that better myself Jen. Well said, especially that last sentence “I am just thankful for a blog that helps me consider things daily and that challenges me to think about what amount is right for me.” I am glad you see it that way and I hope my other readers do too. There are often things in our homes that we hadn’t even considered decluttering until someone draws attention to them and gets us thinking about how much we need or appreciate them.

    • beautiful comment… you are so right. I am often torn between the minimalistic me and the clutter me, and depending on the shape I chose differently each day. As I am down to a level that doesnt require daily decluttering anymore, I decided I only declutter, if I find something, that is easy to give away… Because most of my things are now items I cant easily let go, but once in a while I revise my stuff and sudddenly find it easy to declutter such and such. Just like yesterday, when I rearranged my IVAR, (my drawer for my decluttered items is gone now, and I need a new area) and I needed to change things. 3 books (dictionaries are so redundant in times of “online”) are now on the departure shelf. Paper clutter went into the recycling. There is a lot that requires listing on ebay/amazon and I think I will do that this afternoon…

  4. So well said! And please, Colleen and everyone, don’t ever stop blurting out numbers. I find numbers inspiring no matter whether I agree with them or not. While lives, circumstances, attitudes etc. may often be hard to compare because they are such complex constructs, numbers CAN be compared. And from these hard and undeniable facts I can work and question myself into my very individual WHYs. I see comparison quite positively (at least the way it is talked here): not as competition but as food for thought.

    • Thank you Ideealistin. I just love the way I can write a post and then my wonderful readers round it off with their own brand of wisdom. It makes the whole thing cohesive. Some days I thing how much some people are missing if they don’t read the comments. Thank God for Fridays when they at least get a little snippet of that wisdom. This one will be going straight to tomorrows post.

      • totally! not that your posts arent brilliant enough, but added with this community, I feel like we all got a PhD in decluttering. This is an amazing source for knowledge, experience, tips and tricks, wisdom and humour. I at least learned so much from all of those people here, and it doesnt stop. thats why I always come back…

    • Hi Ideealistin! I think that numbers are good when you are talking bed linen, towels, china and cutlery, just to name a few examples. What I don’t like, and some minimalist blogs out there insist, is that you should have a set number of possessions. And if you have more, you are wrong. I was happy when Colleen posted once about how many bed linens where necessary in household with 4 adults, for example. That gave me a number to work with, to help sort some of my own linen. So, numbers here work for us and to help our declutter and not to make us agonize because we have too much. 😀

    • I love the numbers too.

  5. We have the same declutter goal indeed!

    However, I agree with Ideealistin: numbers sometimes promt a re-evaluation. There are some things that I have never in my life been short of and it can be really eye-opening to read of someone who gets by with a lot less – and sometimes even the reverse might be true, to maybe find out that I already own quite little of a certain something.

    I remember when we had a girl from Japan living with us for a couple of months. She was quite disturbed to see that we owned so many plates. I’m from a family (and probably even a country) where you buy crockery in sets of dozens or half dozens. And that means a dozen plates, a dozen cups, saucers etc. In my family there is honestly not one person older than 25 who doesn’t own at least (!) 24 plates. In fact, most of the vast amount of china and crockery I own are outcasts from my grannies, who reduced their collections to a still tremendous amount. Up to that girl living with us, I thought it quite normal to own about 12-20 plates of each size. Less would be minimal in my world. However, she came from a family (and culture?!) where it was the norm to buy single plates for just as many persons as you regularly feed. Apparently, if you invite friends over in Japan, it’s considered rather normal to use mismatched plates or paper plates – if you wanted to impress someone, you’d invite them to a restaurant. (There is a common set size for more formal china in Japan also, but it’s 5 persons instead of 12)

    Although this didn’t lead to an immediate huge purge, it definitely changed my view. Instead of searching flea markets for missing pieces of my inherited sets to make them “complete” again, I realize now how very unnecessary a matching set for 12 is for me. I’m not a very formal person nor do I wish to be. I do have a “thing” for crockery and I like a couple of different plates with different patterns or colors that I can choose from depending on my mood of the day. But I don’t need 12 of each of those patterns, one or two each will do. If I owned crockery to serve 8 – in a colourful, mismatched way – that should be plenty. We still have more than that, but I keep culling little by little and natural progression is helping as well. But even if I still own more than I actually need – this discussion about numbers and the following mind shift made me stop browsing crockery aisles and be content and happy with what I have.

    • Nice Sanna. This was very interesting to read. It just goes to prove that one can change their mindset about something that they were once quite passionate about. I must right a post about how ones once almost fanatical pastimes, like, dislikes and views can change with a little slow and steady reasoning. When I think about how I have changed over the years it is obvious to me that this can happen. Thanks for your thoughts Sanna.

      • You are right! It’s rather astonishing. I can’t quite believe my former me. However, of course if you think “two or three sets” that seems a lot less than “24 or 36 plates”.
        Which just proves again that it’s sometimes good to count things individually. 🙂
        (Though of course, I’m with you and Andréia, getting lost in counting is of no use either)

  6. Yes I agree with all the previous comments and certainly with your wonderful post Colleen about everyone’s different volume of possessions needed to feel contentment. The most wonderful thing I have found on this journey is the mindful consideration given to every object before deciding if it stays or goes. Each item in my home that remains will be there because it is useful and/or beautiful – by MY definition of those things and not because of the dictates of advertising or societal pressure.

    • I particularly liked what you said here Megan “The most wonderful thing I have found on this journey is the mindful consideration given to every object before deciding if it stays or goes. ” That is truly the beauty of slow and steady decluttering.

  7. Great post! I agree with you. Happiness or peace of mind I might add is the goal. We all need to find the balance for ourselves. What is right for one isn’t right for another. We also need to not compare or judge each other because we are different. As long as you are happy with your situation, or choose to be happy regardless of what life hands you, then that is what matters.

    • What you say here could apply to many areas of life I think Spendwisemom. So often we judge people badly because they are different even in so much as simply not agreeing with us. This is something I continually work on improving in myself.

  8. This post was right on the money. Happiness and a love of your home is what it’s all about. I think we look for blogs about decluttering because of being fed up with being unhappy about our spaces. It’s all about finding happy! This post had a nice tone of acceptance that I really appreciate, my happy and your happy may not be with the same things or even the same amount of things, thank you for voicing that reality!

    • I am glad you thought so creative me. That was an important part of the message that I was trying to get across. The other point is that each person shouldn’t feel pressured to reach some lofty decluttered standard that would make them just as unhappy as being cluttered in the first place.

  9. I am finding great happiness in the journey of decluttering.

    I feel that is very important.

  10. Hi all and Happy New Year everyone, I started the finishing touches to packing away all the Chrissy stuff and finally got all the extra crockery and glassware out to the garage ready to be returned to those that I borrowed the extras off! Plan was going really well till I got out there with the last pack of glasses and knocked into the shelf holding everything and the said shelf collapsing!!!! What a cacophony of noise. OH MY STARS!!!! Out of all the stuff I borrowed (we had a nice big full table for Christmas with all the serving sets and glassware for 12 people) well just imagine the mess!!!! I know it’ll cost a bit to replace as it wasn’t all mine. After the ringing in my ears stopped I was left with 8 assorted glasses, 7 sideplates, 4 dinnerplates, 9 bowls and a teapot lid!!!! Holy cow, cheese and crackers and well Sh#t !!!!!!! I couldn’t even get a photo of it coz I left my phone elsewhere and I no longer have a camera. OMG I just couldn’t believe it. De-cluttering for someone else that I wasn’t expecting hahaha. Well I can laugh now but I assure you I wasn’t then.

    It was entirely my fault I should of checked the shelf for sturdiness but I didn’t and I should of packed everything into it’s boxes in the house, instead of planning to do it all out of the way in the garage, but I didn’t, and I should of really had it out of the house at an earlier date, but I didn’t and now I’ll be paying the price LITERALLY!!!

    One girlfriend said don’t worry and had a laugh about it because as she quotes ” It’s nice when someone else breaks something for a change” she wasn’t bothered cos the glasses from her were just fairly cheap and came with a ‘if they get
    chipped, dropped or completely smashed well it’s not a biggie.’ I’ve yet to inform my other friends but hey who knows they may be happy also. (I’m kinda hoping we’ll have a good laugh and that I am able to replace them with the same brand).

    I won’t be borrowing anything else for a while, I’m too scared!!! My Happiness Goal for the moment is getting over the shock and hopefully getting the shelf fixed quickly heehee. Funny thing is I wouldn’t have given a flying rats butt if it was all mine but I am a little sick to think I have smashed the hell out of other peoples goodies. I’m confident that I’ll still have my friends but I am a little sad that I won’t be delivering anything but some rotten news.

    As far as de-cluttering without intending too goes I reckon I win first place!!!!!! The sick and twisted humor in me kinda got a buzz out of all the destruction hahaha. Kinda looked like the aftermath of a Greek Wedding Celebration gone slightly skee-wiff!!!! Seriously though I feel terrible, I have had all the puns possible and have a ‘Smashing New Year’ was rather fitting hahaha. 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Oh my! That story puts a bit of a damper on the idea of borrowing for others if you don’t have what you need. Oh well, life just happens sometimes. I am glad I only borrowed a nut cracker and and spring form pan after reading about your disaster. I had better get them back to the neighbour before something happens to them.

    • Oh my, Dizzy, that doesn’t sound good!
      I hope, you’ll be able to find good solutions with everyone!

    • Dizzy, your comments make me laugh… great story, even if its actually not too good. breaking someone elses stuff is always making you feel uncomfortable, but hey in the end they are your friends and that counts more than any broken dishes.

  11. great post, colleen.

    I wanted to tell that I am noticing some changes in my family. My aunt, kicked by my actions towards her wardrobe a year ago, called me yesterday to report her progress on her paper clutter, her cleaning of the fridge, etc. And she was the one that was soo reluctant to start in the first place. I was laughing so hard when she told me about a glass in the fridge that held undefinable content. Needless to say I am encouraging her to do that more, now that she is old enough to cut back on her job and spend a bit more time at home. I love the way she is excited about it.

    while my mother isnt so much about decluttering (or letting go of leisure shopping), I can tell she is impressed by my progress on selling things… She is now identifying objects of value that I can sell, and “keep the money” myself, as I do the work. Those objects are usually in excellent shape. I am selling a lot now that was never mine in the beginning, but my mum is “tired of this stuff everywhere”, and I am happily encouraging her to sell her crap. Now to make her question her shopping habits is a totally other topic, but steady pace wins the race.

    I think after more than a year of constant reports on decluttering and selling, my family is now getting into their own mode, and maybe develop their own ideals, goals, and numbers. I am excited to see them turning slowly too.

    • Well done Lena, what a great influence you are. Here’s hoping that you can influence your mother to change her consumption habits.
      I unfortunately had two conversations this week with people who are climate change deniers. And yes, perhaps there is no concrete proof that the changes in the climate is human behaviour related but the evidence is pretty strongly for that to be the case. It is always preferable to these people to ignore the problem rather than deny themselves by having to change their ways. I particularly like the argument of dinosaurs went extinct without our help. True although it took about 500 million years while humans only descended from the trees 2 million years ago and look at the mess we have made. And that mess has mostly accumulated in the last 150 years.

      • ignorance is bliss… I sometimes wonder how people can always point fingers at everyone else but themselves. or deny human responsibility in total for that matter. honestly, we are all the same, no exception. and humans are good and bad at the same time. it was that way, it is that way and it will always stay that way. so I cant change others but only myself. So I guess I will lead by example and hopefully other people might get it.
        it did become very trendy to go green, although I think germany is and has been very far already compared to other countries in that regard. but for some things its too late, and I am prepared to hear news as flooded cities (jakarta right now?) or the extinction of the polar bear… its not going to take that long anymore.

  12. Enjoyed all the comments. Had to laugh at Dizzy’s story though hope her friends will just appreciate her de-cluttering for them and she will not be out the expense of replacing anything. The amount of stuff we are comfortable with does vary at different stages of life. Someone awhile back mentioned she was replacing heavy blankets with the newer light weight ones. I hadn’t thought of doing that though I did have one lightweight one, so this week found an inexpensive queen sized one and hauled off two wool/part wool blankets to our favorite thrift shop. We are in the midst of unusually cold weather and the lady said these will sell. So we do enjoy the comments and they often make us consider something new. And having a daily reminder helps keep us thinking. As for the early onset Altzheimers–what it is, is that you have joined the Hereafter Club–you go into a room, and say, what am I here after.