It’s all about you

Today’s mini mission is ~ Just declutter something that isn’t “you”.

In reality all of this weeks mini missions have been about getting rid of things that aren’t you. By this I mean things that don’t spark any joy in you. Joy that something fits you. Joy that something works well for you. Joy that you find something beautiful. Joy that brings back happy memories…

Unwanted gifts. Disappointing purchases. Items that feel like they are nagging you to do something you don’t have the time or inclination for right now. Items you accepted from others only because you felt you couldn’t say no. Sentimental items that don’t give you a warm and fuzzy feeling. These are all items that don’t bring joy to your life. Add that lack of joy to resentment and frustration and you don’t have a recipe for a very happy home.

Don’t force yourself to wear the clothing item that makes you feel frumpy. Remove that ugly art piece that you have tolerated for years only because a friend painted for you. Don’t assault your sense of smell with the bottle of perfume that you hate just because it was a gift. Pass the family heirloom onto another relative if it doesn’t suit your taste. Resell that expensive electronic gadget that you never could figure out how to use. And those supplies for that craft project you bought five years ago, but never did master the technique for, really would be better in someone else’s hands.

So be kind to yourself, don’t allow anyone or anything dictate to you what you should keep of your own stuff, and remove the items that torment you from your life.

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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. I have one (or more) of these. The one that comes to mind is a multi-color hoodie. It was given to me a couple of years ago by a family member. I found that I cannot pull off wearing a multi-color hoodie no matter how good of a hair day I am having. It is about 30 years too young for me. I feel guilty about not wearing it every time I see it, which is often because it really stands out in my closet. So I just put it in the donate bag. Making me feel even more guilty, I see the tag says it was made in Nepal. 🙁 Wish I could send it to someone there.

    • Hi Claire, don’t beat yourself up about it. Learning to let go is the biggest part of decluttering. Just think of the sweater as a gift from someone who, if they had really known you better, should have chosen more wisely for a gift for you. I am sure if they saw you in it they would regret the day they gave it too you. And I am sure they wouldn’t want you feeling this way. So it is the best choice for both of you to let it go. There is a good chance it may end up in Nepal anyway.

      • 🙂 Thanks Colleen! My family members seem to be in conspiracy to get me to wear colors that I do not wear. They literally never give me clothing in the colors I wear, except for white, now and then. Ah well.
        I was also able to part with about 50 small embroidered table type linens. They were gifts to me over the years but I never use them anymore. They have been in a box for years. Hopefully someone who loves these will find them.

        • Good for you Claire. I do wonder though why your family members a hell bent on you wearing colours you don’t usually wear.

          • I tend to wear darker colors, black, navy, dark green. My family members wear mostly pastels, florals and bright colors. I am not a goth by any means! but I like how neutrals simplify my wardrobe and think I look better in these colors. My husband agrees. I think the others just don’t like the idea of me frequently wearing black. It isn’t a spiritual conviction for me at all, I’m just being practical and trying to look ok without tons of fuss. Recently I’ve been trying to find a dress to wear to a wedding. The wedding colors are pastels. If I wear my usual darker colors I will stand out like a sore thumb (I’m mother of the groom) in photos, but I’ve tried on a dozen pastels and look so terrible in every shade. So I’ve tried but keep coming back to the darker colors. Hopefully I will hit on a good option for the wedding!

        • Claire – I went thru this a few months ago with another friend. She doesn’t suit pastels but didn’t want to look harsh corporate either, so she went for a midway between the two colour ranges, in a stronger shade of the pastel colour the bridesmaids were wearing, so she’d tie in with the wedding party. Of, course, check in with the Mother of the Bride too.

          I recently ordered my daughters Ball Dress (Prom) from and they had a section for mother of the bride and you can order the outfits in whatever colour you want. And pay the little bit extra and get the custom make option.

          • Thanks Moni!
            That is what I was hoping to find, a shade or two darker than the pastels. I ordered a different dress online a year ago and it was a terrible fit on me. So I feel a bit nervous about that especially for this occasion. I might order from a store that would do the measurements though. Unfortunately the mother of the bride is deceased or I would definitely ask her input. The bride wants photos of whatever I choose and I assume wants to approve it. 😉

        • Claire – a lot of wedding dress stores have a mother of the bride section, or google as there are stores which cater to this market too. Good that the bride has her finger on the pulse.

          • This is also a reply regarding Claire’s wedding dress. Don’t know if this will help, but I read once that turquoise and peach are the two colors that go well with almost anyone’s skin tones. Don’t know if that would match any of the wedding colors, but thought I’d throw it in.

  2. Tomorrow is the community garage sale over at the Senior Centre. Lots of donations coming from our house – stuff we’ve been caring for in the basement dead storage for a very long time. Ian doesn’t even remember where some of it came from! He now sees it less as something we need to hang onto and more as something we have to pack, move, store and move again. Progress is being made.

  3. I have used this week’s mini missions to give myself carte blanche to ‘out box’ items without worrying about who/what/where they will be donated to or without having a debate with myself.

  4. I like the idea of decluttering things that aren’t me!
    How often have I contemplated the negative reaction of other people when I choose to replace or donate an item? Does it stop me from replacing or donating the item? No , I focus on what the benefit to me will be. And time and time again when I’m enjoying those benefits I shake my head to think I nearly let other people influence my decision.

  5. Hi, Colleen. I only have one word for your last paragraph – Amen!

    Your post brought to mind the following Emerson quote:

    “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”

  6. Colleen, this is very good. One of the things I am looking forward to when we move into separate quarters is that the place will be me instead of Mom. She likes to have lots of things sitting around and I don’t. It drives her nuts that I have nothing on the walls in my bedroom. For me, if it doesn’t have great meaning in my life then why stick it on my wall just so there is something there. I could go on. Thankfully, it will soon not matter. Ahhh!

    • I am glad you will have your own space and yet still be close by one another. There is no point wishing she was different to what she is and vice versa. In the meantime you just have to accept each other for who you are when it comes to material things.

  7. Hi everyone,

    Off topic but I have to mention before I forget LOL…

    Moni did an excellent book review about Marie Kondos book here (in the comments) on 3/6/15. I had requested the book from our library in early December 2014 and just got it! I was glad to finally get a chance to read it. Maries’ “tidy” methods are a little severe for my taste. It seems she encourages throwing a lot of stuff away, although that may just be a language translation issue. There is a fairly complex purse ritual she does every day, found myself thinking that she must live alone to be willing to take the time to do this. I toss the rotten banana remains out of my bag into the compost, along with compost scraps I beg off other people I work with LOL

    I prefer the fun at 365lessthings 🙂 I also like the 365lessthings way of careful purchasing and recycling as needed, rather than throwing away everything… I did like Maries’ use of shoe boxes for storage though and it was a peek into the Japanese culture, which was interesting. I hope I’m not being too critical of her, at least she cares about getting rid of clutter 🙂

    • Hi Peggy I appreciate you support and your preference for Refusing, Reducing, Reusing and Recycling over rampant consumerism and throwing perfectly good stuff away. I really do need to get my hands on that book to read it and form my own opinion.

    • Hi Peggy,

      I agree with you about the book. I read it really quickly, and got a few ideas I like. I love some of the Japanese culture, however prefer the 365 way:) It is more my style. Plus I like the community around Colleen’s blog.

    • Peggy – firstly thanks for the review of the review! I initially was bamboozled by the ‘throw out’ message but have since learnt that yes just as ‘cleaning’ should have been replaced with ‘organising’ or ‘decluttering’, ‘throw out’ should have been replaced with more appropriate words.

      Funnily enough I was involved in a conversation about this very recently and I put forth that I use the words ‘hiff’ and ‘heave-ho’ which basically mean ‘throw out’ but have never actually tossed anything out the front door to date, nor has anything been dumped in the rubbish bin (unless it was broken or ??) – I use the terms ‘throw out’ and ‘get rid of’ in reference to a decision to no longer choose to own it. So I feel there needs to be allowance made for translation and also how different cultures phrase their informal speak.

      I believe, the main focus in Kondo’s book, wasn’t about what gets removed from the household, but rather what stays. And about making big changes.

      As I am at the 95% decluttered mark in my home, I have come to the realisation that I’m not entirely buzzed by some areas of my home and maybe I should be applying the spark joy method. My second realisation was the ‘out pile’ fatigues me. It sounds dramatic but seeing items that I’ve selected to be decluttered waiting around to fill a box to warrant a trip to Goodwill isn’t working for me at the moment. I made a choice but the item is still hanging around.

      I have started re-reading her book, as it is downloaded on my phone, so whenever I’m in a wait situation, I read a few more pages. Second time around, I am getting different points from the book, noting much more subtle messages and have found myself observing my own approach to decluttering.

      I will however say that I’m not keen on the daily unpacking of the handbag and returning everything to different locations around the house, but I am trying to get into a routine of clearing out my handbag everyday.

      • Hi Moni, I love your word “hiff”! I haven’t ever thought you meant “throw out” but just that you took the item(s) somewhere to donate.

        I agree that Marie Kondos book is geared toward what to keep, which is a point that I like.

        That daily purse ritual is too much work though… I rarely carry a purse, but whatever I’m carrying (could be a freezer bag!) usually gets mucked out as soon as I get home, no issue for me there… I also de-trash my car as well as I get out of it 🙂

        I can’t say I’m at 95% decluttered or even close to that… maybe 75%? But part of that “picture in my head” is because we have a full house… If everyone else moved out and took their stuff, we could be much closer to 95% (smiles dreamily)…

      • Hi Moni, when out local newspaper did a story on me a few years back they also used the word throw away. Judging from a couple of the comments to the article other people also thought they mean toss it in the trash. I was appalled.
        I dare say though that I use similar terms myself sometimes here at my blog. I guess I shouldn’t assume my readers know I mean for them to move things on responsibly. I for one will choose my words carefully in the future, just in case.

      • I just started reading Marie’s book today. The book starts off about why the getting rid of one thing a day just doesn’t work, and why it should be done in one fell swoop. You would think she was Colleen’s arch enemy. Ha!!! Well, I love to try to declutter a large area if I have time, but doing my large home in one swoop is a physical impossibility. Who has that kind of time or energy???? And taking out a thing a day makes sure the clutter doesn’t pile back up. I don’t literally remove a thing a day, but am constantly working on the removal.
        It is my life’s goal now to remove the things I have collected for my whole life. Ha!! I don’t have to worry about bringing it back in because I never shop.

        In reference to Marie Kondo’s question of “does this spark joy?” (which I have not yet gotten to in the book), I totally understand that concept for clothing and decor. But, in MY life, I’m more likely to be asking “Does this spark Usefulness?”. Ha!!! I have a lot of things in my home that do not spark a lot of joy, but I use them almost every day to clean or cook with or SOMETHING!!!! And I watched a you tube video of Marie folding socks and I thought, ‘This woman must be single with LOTS of free time!!!!’. It looked like she folded every sock about 5 places. Yes, it looked fabulous when done, and I’d love my sock drawer to look like that, but in reality I can’t imagine spending that much time on socks. I barely fold one cuff over the other just enough they will hold without stretching the sock. No “potatoes” for me. It is quick and simple. Navy socks on one side of the drawer, blacks on the other.

        I guess I just wanted to read Marie’s book because I love to read any book about simplicity, decluttering, and organization. But 365 and the regular gang of commenters are the most fun and greatest of all!! Thanks again, Colleen!!!,

  8. Brenda – I too decided she must live alone. I don’t actually fold socks – potatoes or Kondo-style. I buy a heap of identical ones and just keep them together in the drawer. My younger daughter doesn’t seem to worry if her socks match or not, so she’s happy to just play lucky dip.

    I was initially taken aback by the anti-one-day-a-thing approach but then I remembered she is a Professional Organiser and its her job to make a big difference in a short period of time and by the sound of it her clients aren’t in the mindset to work thru things themselves. Houses are smaller in Japan but by the sounds of it, they’re as big at consuming stuff as the Western World is, so possibly they have more of an overwhelming situation. Hello Kitty has a lot to answer for!

    If you also factor in that the Japanese were the original minimalists – they invented art which used positive use of negative space – being cluttered isn’t part of their genetic make up – just like I struggle to do Kondo’s folding methods, no Origami in my family tree. So possibly her clients have a lower clutter overwhelm thresh-hold than Westerners do. I heard about genetic memory recently and wonder if there is something in that for their culture.

    The thing I’ve enjoyed about second time around reading was that I’ve picked up on is that mothers have a tendancy to salvage goods on the out-pile (due to good intentions) and I’ve caught myself out doing that a couple of times recently. Me, the seasoned 365’er! I was doing a watered down version of exactly what Kondo was talking about. What’s more my daughters were fully aware of what I was doing but were just humouring me.

    • Moni, I think you are exactly right in all your observations!!! I am looking forward to reading the book and after your comments, I may want to read it twice. : ). I actually did purchase the book, so if it has lots of things that jump out at me I can underline them to encourage me in the future.
      Otherwise, I will likely trade it in at the used book store. (you know, if it doesn’t spark joy! Ha!)
      I only keep books that I want to refer back to. I don’t feel guilty about buying it because I almost never do/buy anything for myself!!! And since I’m still in my decluttering phase, I love encouragement!

      • Brenda – I would never have expected it to become one of my ‘top 10 books’. It was an easy read though I got really tired of the word ‘cleaning’. But I find I am referencing it a lot. I think its because she seems so sweet and caring but then she pulls a rule out (ie unread books) and you realise she is a Clutter Ninja. So as I’m umming and aahhing over something, I recall she said something on the topic and I look it up. Even if her point of view seems a bit extreme, I like her reasonings behind her point of view and the different perspective.

        Sparking joy is something I’ve also been giving some thought to. I don’t think I’m ever going to get all ‘sparky’ over most kitchen items. However, I have decided to aim for ‘pleased’. I can remember my mum buying a new food processer when I was a very young girl and her telling her friends how pleased she was with the purchase. I could tell by her voice that she was very happy with the purchase but she wasn’t going to wax poetical about it either. It was just a tool after all. So I think it is good standard for a kitchen item.