Intentional Living by Deb J

In my last post I talked about how I had been reading too much and needing to be more intentional with my reading.  This post I want to talk about being intentional about what we do so that we don’t have cluttered lives.

I am so excited about the decluttering progress we are seeing from people who comment on this blog.  While we all have places where we struggle, we are all moving forward and working to break through those struggles.  The majority of this decluttering is that of ridding ourselves of the things we accumulate over the years.  We have talked some about decluttering our lives when we talk about stopping the use of shopping to deal with stressors in our lives.  Today I want to talk a bit more about this type of decluttering. 

In a world where life seems to get busier and busier we have taken on cluttered lifestyles.  Does Junior really need to be on all those after school sports teams?  Does the little Princess need to be so caught up in dance, sports, etc?  Does Mom or Dad need to be so busy after work that they seldom come home until late in the evening?  Does your job really require working long hours or is it a way to climb the ladder and gain more money?  Do you need more money or have you become dissatisfied with what you have because of all you see and all others have?  What are you doing that you NEED to do and what are things that you do because you feel obligated or you want to pass the Joneses?  Are you really obligated or is this a case of following the crowd or using busyness to get out of dealing with life issues?  How much is enough and how much is too much? 

Reading too much isn’t the only place I need to declutter.  I have found that there are some other areas of my life that have become clutter and it’s because I have fallen into the habit of doing them not because they were needful or a real enjoyment.  They were there because I fell into them and didn’t want to spend the energy thinking about them or getting out of them.  We have already talked about the decluttering of scrapbooking that I am doing.  Another area was that of making all the cards I send.  Speaking of that, there is the habit of sending cards to so many where I not only don’t hear back from them but I have little contact in any other way, it is all one sided. 

For some people they need to declutter some of the things they do as individuals in order to do more things as a family.  Some need to come to terms with not keeping up or exceeding the Joneses in what they have or how much they make.  Maybe you need to cut back on the amount of entertaining you do so that you can be home more and get more rest.  Or maybe you need to take walks or bike rides as a family or couple rather than each go their separate way to the gym or to other forms of exercise. 

So, what is cluttering your life and what can you do about it?

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter something that hasn’t been used in a long time. After all, if you don’t have a use for it then your home is not the right place for it.

“If we do not feel grateful for what we already have, what makes us think we’d be happy with more?” — Unknown

Eco Tip for the Day

Don’t throw those old sheets, towels, blankets and pillows in the trash donate them to an animal shelter, humane society, wildlife rescue service, kennel or veterinary surgery.

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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Continue reading with these posts:

  • Mini Mission ~ Friday 22Dec2017 Declutter a couple of old shabby shoes that you no long choose to use.
  • How little we really need Every time I go on a long vacation I am reminded of how little one really needs to live a comfortable and functional lifestyle. My husband and I often stay in Airbnb places when on […]
  • Getting the stuff out of your home It has come to my attention, both through comments on my blog and through real life experience, that one of the issues people have with their clutter, once they finally decide to be rid of […]
About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. Spot on Deb J! It is so beneficial to stop for a moment (or longer) and examine why we do things! I stopped sending out Christmas cards a couple of years ago because they seemed to fall into two categories: ones I dashed off with just a greeting and a signature and ones where I felt I needed to catch someone up on what was going in the family’s year (the dreaded Christmas letter). I also realized that most of the cards I received also fell into those categories and I did not display them or save them. (I did tear off pretty pictures and send them to school for arts and crafts.) “Doing” the Christmas cards was not something I enjoyed, so I stopped doing them. Haven’t lost a friend due to it and frankly, if someone stopped talking to me because they didn’t get a card, oh well!!!
    I also decided I really didn’t need to be on every church committee, that things would perk along fine without me and that I could focus on those areas where I felt a real call.
    Perhaps the hardest thing to do, because we’re raised to be good girls and get along with everyone, was to declutter some toxic personalities from my friendship list. When I defined friendship I realized that someone who zaps the joy out of you and depletes you of energy does not actually fit the definition of a friend!
    The phrase “declutter” has really taken on a very broad meaning and I appreciate all the encouragement, insights and sharing that goes on within this blog! Thank you all!

    • You read my mind in all 3 areas-cards, charitable activities, toxic relationship(only 1, but it had to be pruned off). Declutter applies to so many areas of life. Thanks for sharing, Karen.

    • Karen, good for you decluttering toxic people and excess organizational obligations. I found myself heavily involved in our school PTO but also helping out in the classrooms, at lunch, wherever help was needed because the school really does need more bodies to do what it doesn’t have money to do. I finally burned out and pulled out of almost all obligations. And as you noted with your church, the school is running fine without my help.

      I, too, struggle over Christmas cards. I used to love to send them out, but now our list has gotten so long that it’s not much fun anymore. I know that certain people never will return cards, and that’s fine. That’s their personalities. But I find myself sending to people who are relatives of my husband’s that I don’t know well and therefore don’t feel the need to write a message, which I enjoy doing with those close to me. Every once in a while, I take a year off of sending them but find I really do miss it. For me, it seems to be all or nothing. I can’t seem to whittle the list down. On the occasions when my husband helps me, I find myself silently noting to myself that he should have picked X card for Y person, as I’m always trying to match the card to the person. It’s a no-win situation, and I bring it on myself!

      • DonnaB, I used to be like you with my Christmas cards. My first declutter of the list was by deciding that if we received no card from someone we sent one to we would take them off the list unless it was an elderly relative or friend I knew couldn’t send one. The next bunch to be removed were those who only signed their card and didn’t send one unless they received one from us. I just kept whittling away.

    • Karen, I think your three areas are ones many of us struggle with. I will never forget when I gave up being the Women’s Ministry director at church. I struggled with it for months before I did it. I should have done it the year before. But it has been such a help because physically it was killing me.

      Christmas cards have been my “job” since I was a teen. I even did them for my parents when I lived 2000 miles away. What was up with that. then I got into the phase of making them all. Now I have pared it down quite a bit and will do that even more this year. I still make about 10 and send about 20. Down from 150 at one point.

    • Karen,
      You are spot on when mentioning friend decluttering.
      For decades, my sister has been doing “friend and acquaintance housecleaning”.
      I do the same. No room in my life for energy vampires whose mere presence drains me.

      • Karen, I have found that there are certain things I will not give up like going to church on Sunday mornings. Because of that I have become very protective of my energy stores. I say no to anything that will prevent me from doing those things that mean the most to me.

    • I only send Christmas cards to immediate family. I think it’s less than 20 people. That way, I get to buy a box of cute Christmas cards, but it’s not an overwhelming burden to send them out. Goodness, if I had to send a card to everyone we know, then I’d have to start filling them out now. Yikes.

      • Melanie, I used to start making Christmas cards right after Christmas and work on them throughout the year. By August or September I would be addressing them and signing them. In November I would create the letter to go in them. NO MORE!! It feels so good to have that off my back.

        • Oh dear, I’d never be able to look at another card again! Good for you for releasing yourself from that burden!

    • Like

  2. This post is so valid. Clutter isn’t just physical objects. These things we do that we don’t really want to do clutter our minds and affects us negatively. I have a lot of this type of decluttering to do. I did SO much decluttering of objects, still more to do and more of this intentional living.

  3. Did the handmade Christmas cards hit home with me. I stopped making cards a couple years ago…found I actually like stamping for gift bags or candy bar wrappers. I went from sending 150 handmade cards down to 30-40store bought cards. I used a similar method mentioned to cut my card list down.

    I have one toxic neighbor that I tried to be nice to for years. Decided a few months ago that it wasn’t working for me, so I just turned it neighbor loose. Don’t answer her phone calls (isn’t caller I’d grand?) Lol. Don’t answer the door when she’s there.

    Good post Deb J!

    • Thanks Calla. I have plans to pare down the Christmas card list even more. Many on the list are people that were Mom’s friends. She isn’t the one that keeps up with them and I am tired of doing it for her. So off the list they go unless she takes care of them. It is amazing how many that will cut off the list.

  4. I remember reading once that you should quit any organization whose meetings you dread. Boy, did that hit home. It is hard in a community as small as this one (about 200 people) to gracefully drop out of something but I quit one organization a couple of years ago and am going to gently bow out of another. If I hate going, I’m not really giving them my best, am I?

    • Wendy B, I so understand this. I was involved in several things like this when we first moved here. Now I am out of all of them and it feels so good to not spend two days before a meeting to brace myself for what is to come.

  5. I decided to declutter my friends, and I hit upon a rather neat way of doing it. I tell them about my planned trip to New Zealand – anyone who reacts negatively and tries to convince me I’m not capable of doing it is someone I just don’t need in my life! Former work colleague who put me down completely — no. My 81 year old nan, who was 100% supportive and even gave me £200 of her hard-earned life savings because she’s just that amazing? Yeah, there’s an example of someone positive, that lady’s amazing.

    • Hi Niriel, I am all for you and your move to New Zealand. There is a lot to be gained by moving out of ones comfort zone and especially from moving to another country. Even if that country is not that dissimilar to your own. I am so glad the my family and I had the opportunity to live for seven years in the USA. It sure made my children more rounded people with a healthy respect for others who may not be the same as themselves.
      And God bless your beautiful nan who is supporting you all the way.
      Forgive me for asking as I should remember, which country are you moving from?

      • Thank you so much for this reply Colleen! And yes, my nan is seriously amazing. What you hear about older people being “stuck in an old generation” and impossible to change is just wrong, when you meet her. A distant cousin of mine came out as trans when she was about 75 – her only problem with it was working out what pronouns to use, she’s amazing. I could talk all day about my nan.

        People like my ex-coworker, I do not need. Why keep negative people around when I can surround myself instead with people like my nan?

    • Niriel, I think you have found a great way to chose who to keep and who to let go of. Your Nan sounds like a real sweetie.

      • She absolutely is. I’m going to surround myself with people like her, it seems like a recipe for a happy, supportive life.

  6. Hi, Deb J. I enjoyed your post … you provided much food for thought. We often get used to doing things on auto-pilot that we forget to question whether it might be time to stop doing or streamline some of them.

    • Nicole, you are right about doing things on auto-pilot. I know that I have to really work to not do this.

  7. Deb J, What a good post! I was getting really stressed out last year with social obligations. It was just way too much, and my social group tends to do everything late at night. I finally got tired of it and dropped out, pretty much completely. Everything was fun, it was just making me tired and sick and confused and overwhelmed. I love to stay up late, but I do not love to stay out late. So now I just tell people the truth. I no longer do night-time things. Sorry. No more book club, no more wine club, no more girls’ night out, nothing. Things are much better now.

    • Melanie, you have found what I have found. Late nights out are no longer my kind of fun. I’m glad things are much better for you.

  8. I always say that volunteering isn’t a selfless task, we do it because we also get something out of it. And like Karen said if we aren’t enjoying it we are likely also not doing a good job of it. So it is best to volunteer our time doing something we also enjoy.

  9. amazing post, Deb J.

    I never liked being in whatever community, club or organization in the first place. basically all of my friends are spending a lot of time and energy in a club that organizes art-exhibitions, parties, theaters etc. I really do like what they do and I have helped on several occasions, but I always refuse to join. I just don’t like all the people there and I don’t want to spend my time and energy arguing with people I don’t like. it is that simple. I told them several times and they slowly get my point. (it is usually when I start pointing out that they are having the same fight with the same person again and again).

    it also hit me recently that I do have more time to spend with partner, friends and family, but I actually need a lot of time on my own. so although I want to participate in every single party, barbecue or whatever, I don’t. because it gets all too much. I long for silence and time to let one event wander through my mind again, before I can take another one in. sometimes I think I am not that smart at all, if I can’t understand things all at once. but usually I don’t and there is always something that someone said that follows me somehow until a couple of days later. this is one important lesson in 2015 for me.

    • oh and I am shocked at the amount of christmas cards. 150 ?!? are you kidding me? that must take days…
      sending christmas cards is not usual in germany. and I like the idea, but then again: I don’t send them birthday wishes, so why should they get a card for christmas? No need to worry…

      • Lol
        It would take me 4-6 months to make them. A month to address them & write a letter that was photocopied to put with card, not to mention the cost of mailing them all. Plus coming up what the a unique design for the card to make. I felt like it was a year long process. I used to feel like everyone I knew should get a card…well no more!

        So happy not to feel that & go through that process anymore!

        • Calla, you are right in saying it takes months and lots of money. I have backed away from this and am working toward purchased cards for the majority of people we send to. I am also making very few. I made a bunch of them as a way to use up scrapbook supplies and when those are gone that’s it.

      • Lena, I don’t know where the idea of Christmas cards came from but I am not sure it is a great idea. Fewer people do this as each year goes by and that is fine with me.

    • Hi Lena,

      I think you are a thoughtful person… I also like to “chew on” my experiences, rather than rush out and have another experience… I like to savor what was said and done and think about what it means, what I liked and didn’t, etc. I like a lot of quiet time, too. The quiet time refreshes my mind, so that I am able to go out into the world again and enjoy people. If I don’t have this time, I feel cranky 🙂

      I also don’t like to join groups because then things turn into expectations and obligations rather than free will gifts of money, time, and effort as you feel called to offer. I feel much happier to contribute when it’s not expected 🙂

      • Peggy,

        I’m with you and Lena. Maybe we should start a club. Hahaha. Just kidding.

        I just don’t require much social interaction. I like being with my husband or by myself. One social activity can last me for months. But it seems like when you do one thing, people want you to do 100 more things. Maybe I’m just lazy, but that’s way too much for me!

    • Lena, it sounds like you did a good thing by not joining this group. We need to be very careful who we are with. As a Christian I try to love everyone and treat them well. That does not mean that I have to spend lots of time with them unless God makes that really clear.

      Like you I need to have time to myself. That is the hardest thing for me about having Mom with me. I get very little time to myself unless I stay up after she goes to bed.

    • I can so relate to this Lena, especially right now. I am looking forward to spending the 3 months in Berlin at the end of the year just to take a break from it all.