Know yourself, know your clutter.

Way back at the start of my declutter journey it was obvious that my craft collection of tools and materials was way out of hand. Especially since I hardly bothered to find the time to use them. So I set about deciding which tools I used and which ones I didn’t and which materials I didn’t like so much. Separating the wheat from the chaff so to speak.

The before and after shots of my craft room. Click here if you want to see the progression shots.

As you can see there is a vast difference between the before and after shots above. But this didn’t happen overnight. It happened gradually through several sorting sessions to decide what I use, what I don’t and what I thought I never would. Many of you have read about my progress when it comes to my craft supplies but this post isn’t simply about that.

This post is about knowing yourself in this time period, seeing where you have come from and foreseeing where you are going and decluttering with that in mind.

This post was inspired by an email I received from my husband yesterday. A work colleague had posted a For Sale ad on their work social board. He had finally come to the conclusion that he and his wife so rarely ride their motorbikes these days that it was time to let them go to a new home.

I dare say this decision took a lot of soul searching because they had been avid riders and dedicated BMW motorcycle fans for a long time. Their bikes and associated gear were decked out with every mod con going. However after spending twelve months separated from their bikes, while working overseas, their lives had taken a different turn. As life is prone to do. It took a couple more years, of the bikes sitting almost idle in the garage, to finally come to the conclusion that life has moved on and it is time to let them go.

The situation was much the same with my crafting supplies. The only difference was that I still loved to craft, I had done so since as far back as I can remember, and I was still participating in it if only on an irregular basis. What I did was reduce what I had to fit the impending change in my lifestyle. Now I find I am once again crafting all the time and even have an outlet to sell my handmade items.

So you see it can take time to make the hard decisions. Every parting with clutter isn’t a sweet one. And sometimes it is just a matter of reducing rather than letting go altogether. Either way it is about know yourself and realising what is now clutter to you and what isn’t.

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter something that triggers fond memories but is never displayed where you can see it.

Eco Tip for the Day

While running the water in the shower till it gets hot only run the hot water so you aren’t wasting more water than necessary.

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. This is a great post. I am looking at my stuff/clutter much the same way. I haven’t gotten rid of many things altogether, but I have been working to reduce them. I may still at some point get rid of things all together, but for now I am just slowly making progress without stressing about it. If I come to hard item and I can’t decide, I just keep it. I will get to the hard things eventually.

    • I forgot to add, I will get to the hard things eventually because and only because I have worked to stop and/or greatly reduce the inflow of stuff and I am practicing 1 in 1 out (sometimes 2 out) rule.

    • That is exactly the process that I suggest Shoeaholicnomore. It is the painless way to declutter. Especially when you are just starting out. The one thing you don’t want to do is make it too hard on yourself and halt your progress. Well done you!

    • Shoeaholicnomore – excellent approach, in the end I got so tired of continually re-visiting some particular items that in the end I was “why are you still in my house?” (yes I admit, I was talking to an object) and what had been too hard to get placed in the goodwill box a year earlier, got hiffed in and rushed off to Goodwill the next day so I wouldn’t have to see it again. The funny thing is that I can’t even remember what it was now.

  2. Colleen, as you know, I totally understand what you have done. It feels so good to know that I have decluttered so much of my scrapbooking supplies. I only make cards now and it takes a huge amount less in the way of supplies. I want to eventually switch out my melamine covered board over two storage units to an actual desk. We have decluttered all but Mom’s sewing machine with storage unit and my “desk.” It looks great.

    • You and I have been carrying out the same declutter in this area Deb. I am really enjoying my card making and I am making a dent in the amount of paper I have left. I do have to buy white cardstock though but that is fine. It is funny that we had the same dest setup. I no longer have a desk as I now use the kitchen bench. This at least forces me to clear up after myself every time I create.

      • I wish I could even get rid of the desk but there is still too much we use so we need one. I wish we didn’t.

  3. I feel for your motorcycle friends. It has been literally years since I have ridden my dirt bike (though my husband still rides his and my boys go out only occasionally). I really loved it before, but now it’s more annoying than fun for me – I would honestly rather be simply walking in the woods than riding in them. I have been trying to talk him into selling some of the bikes (at least ONE of them!) and the associated gear while it is still of value. To add insult to injury, the boys have outgrown most of their gear and it will cost quite a bit to re-outfit them. Its a tough pill for my husband to swallow, he wants us all to love it as much as he does. Meanwhile his precious garage space is stuffed full of ignored bikes and many duffle bags of gear….

    • That is a pity Creativeme. I hope he comes to the realisation soon that he is one his own when it comes to the love of this sport and lets the excess bikes and gear go. Just keep suggesting it and maybe eventually he will realise the you are serious about not wanting to participate any more.

    • Creativeme – I went thru exactly the same thing with dirtbike gear a couple of years ago and the 365’ers held my hand thru it. None of the kids were riding by that stage, everything was outgrown. In the end it sold like hotcakes on trademe and the best part was one of the people who turned up to buy a heap was an old school friend. The money went to fund the girl’s current activities. We still have my husband’s bike and gear but he is talking of selling it too. He’s decided he likes fishing better. He now loves me getting rid of things – although he doesn’t want to do any of the actual getting rid of – but he’s a great sideline supporter.

  4. This is a great post. Thanks for sharing the examples you did. I have been getting rid of stuff slowly now for about 2 1/2 years. I started with the easy stuff and little by little it was easier to let go of the other things we didn’t use or need. It is still a challenge with my husband because of the way he grew up I think that he is prone to keep whatever is given to him. Slowly he is letting go, too, and that is nice. I figure that I need to start with myself and hope that my example will motivate the other members of the family to do the same. I cleaned the whole downstairs, bathrooms and every other room, of our home this morning in less than an hour. It was so nice to see organized closets that don’t need me to go through them. It was nice to be able to dust so easily because there weren’t a lot of things on the surface. I am getting rid of some of the harder stuff now. If we don’t use it, I am asking my kids if they want it now instead of waiting until the future someday when we die. They won’t have stuff to go through in the future and if there was something they really wanted, I am giving it to them if we don’t use it or I put their name on it so they will have it in the future. I love the extra time I have to spend with people instead of cleaning and taking care of clutter. If we were all more careful about what we buy and focus on getting what we need, there would be enough for everyone in the world to have their needs met. Thank you, Colleen, for your time spent in writing posts, for your example, and for your kind comments, interest and concern for your readers.

    • If it is any encouragement Marianne, I have a hording husband and I have worked now for several years on the principle of focussing on my own stuff and hoping it sets an example. I tend to casually explain my decisions behind getting rid of things (wanting space for who I am now, or someone could be using this rather than it being wasted, or wanting to beable to clean the house more easily etc etc). Anyway, it has had a knock on affect and every so often he is able to have a little purge of stuff.
      I like Colleen’s comment about reducing rather than getting rid of everything: I definitely use this when encouraging my husband – it doesn’t need to be everything, just weeding out bits you no longer use e.g. 6 books out of a shelf of 100 still makes a difference.

    • Hi Marianne and thank you for such a wonderful comment. It really is wonderful to have a home that is so much easier to keep clean. I feel your joy on that scare that is for sure. I love that you have realised that all you can do is set an example and hope that those around you see the benefits and begin to follow.

  5. This is so true. As life moves on, so do our interests and activities. We expect to discard toys and books as our children outgrow them, so why shouldn’t we as adults be willing to give away things that no longer interest us, without feeling guilty about it. This reminds me that we have a cello upstairs which my boys played at school but it hasn’t been touched for four years so I shall see if I can sell it. Another set of items that we will be looking at is the electric train set which belonged to my husband as a child. We carried all those trains here from the UK, thinking that our boys would be interested and really it wasn’t their thing. Now we have two large moving boxes full of train stuff which hasn’t been looked at in 10 years or more. I think my husband is more than willing to let it all go, but I suppose we feel we should go through it all, clean it up, maybe try to sell some of it, and we haven’t yet wanted to put in that effort. But the time will come!

    • Christine – my husband had decided to get rid of his clarinet from his school days that was sitting around in the cupboard until somehow his parents got wind of this and they said they’d had to save up for ages and gone without to buy it for him (around age 13, he’s now 42 and hasn’t played it in probably 25 years) and so he doesn’t feel he get rid of it. Grrrrr! We did have a narrow escape though. When his grandmother died, my FIL tried very hard (without our knowledge) to get her cello for my husband – who has never played a cello or any other stringed instrument. At least the clarinet breaks down into a carry case, and if we were guilted into keeping that, imagine having an obligatory un-useable cello sitting around the house!

      • Hi Moni, that flute sounds like a good declutter item for Tuesday’s mission. I am sure your husband doesn’t want his parents to still dictate what he should do with his stuff. It they love the clarinet so much, give it back to them. I apologise if that sounds flippant but obligation clutter is one of those things that I have no time for in my house. I believe that those who love us do so reasonably unconditionally and the material stuff should not get in the way of that.

        • Colleen – I agree but I think mother-guilt has set back the cause for now.

          • Hi Moni,

            Maybe your husband could explain to his parents that he wants to donate his special clarinet to some child who wouldn’t be able to have one otherwise? …a child whose parent(s) don’t have the resources to give this to their child? In this case, there might have to be a little research first to find a particular family or organization that he could mention to his parents 🙂

          • Peggy – I have recently ascertained that my husband has since come around again, and had assumed that I’d already gotten rid of it. I might make enquiries with the local high school, as my husband went to the same one that my kids now go to, and that was where he took lessons. Then at least if it the topic ever comes up with the inlaws again, I can use the whole “circle of life” explanation.

    • Christine – I also meant to mention that I like your comment about kids growing out of things so it stands to reason that adults will too.

    • Hi Christine, I think the time is now for those trains. I would just list them as a job lot to expedite their removal. musical instruments are usually pretty easy to shift as well. Sometimes it is only the effort involved in selling things that holds us back but avoiding it doesn’t make you feel good either so it is best to just get on with it.

  6. Todays mini mission is perfect for me. I have a number of items in my house which are country rustic sort of themed that aren’t on display because as anyone who knows me will swear on a stack of bibles that I am not a country theme type of girl. I think I bought them many many years ago when I was trying to make our first home look more home-y and country was in. As individual pieces I like them but they don’t go with anything and just hang around the top shelf of the pantry in hopes I’ll do some sort of dinner party that requires muffin baskets, trogs, an a wrought iron serviette holder.

  7. Just a note on your eco tip about running water in the shower. For some reason it takes forever for the water in my shower to get hot and I run a lot of water while waiting. In the past, I kept a bucket by the shower to catch the cold water while waiting until the hot water finally flowed. I would use this to water plants inside and out. I started this after we had a very dry summer one year. In addition, I didn’t like how much water was wasted waiting for the hot water. I got out of the habit of doing this. After seeing your post, I plan on starting again. Thanks!!

    • Good for you Lori. It is a great use of water that would otherwise be wasted.

    • I’m always heartened to hear of other people doing this too! I keep a big 20L watering can in the bathroom to collect the shower water as it heats up, and then use it to fill the toilet cistern. I also have a water butt outside that I can top up if the shower watering can is being filled up too fast! I also keep a watering can with a funnel next to the kitchen sink, any rinsing water, old drinking water, cold tea from the pot etc goes in there to go on my outdoor plants. So much fresh water gets unnecessarily wasted, I only wish we didn’t have to use perfectly good drinking water to flush our loos.

  8. I think moving house will be the only way to shed some of the “hidden” clutter that my family members possess .
    I dread the thought of being a storage depot when they ( the children) finally leave home. Colleen discovered my sewing machine was not in good shape after being stored in the laundry , plus it blew up on her. Pity because I know she would have been able to use it, unlike me who can’t sew a straight line.

    • Yes too bad about that sewing machine, we were doing such a good job of recycling your hubby’s old shirts into hankies. Oh well, hopefully I will pick another one up at the thrift store. Who’d have believed we could have two machines blow their control pedal in such quick succession.

  9. For decades, I made candy and truffles for every holiday imaginable. But then, right before my eyes, my daughter was not in elementary school, but had graduated university with her MBA (in another state). I looked carefully through my molds and ended up keeping only two (which I still use from time to time), a traditional truffle mold and one of seashells, since we live in Hawaii. They served me so well. It was like giving up old friends. But they were loved and appreciated for three decades and it was time to let them serve someone else. We need to look at all of our crafts in this manner. There is a time for everything. The wisdom is knowing when to let go.

  10. This post has given me food for thought:) I have old art supplies I no longer use that are in a closet. I have not painted in at least 10 years! I also have an electric piano that I either need to move so I will use it, or sell it. It sounds like a lot of you have been very busy. Unfortunately, I have been in a de-clutter slump; even putting things back where they belong is a challenge. I would like my de-clutter energizer bunny to be “reactivated” because the clutter does bring me down.

    • Hi Sheryl – I too had lots of art supplies from college which I had only used occasionally since I left (in 1991) – a couple of years ago I started parting with some of it – keeping it had become a habit. Since then I have done another design course and am slightly getting back into some designing – I have a few moments of ‘oh, I wish I still had a set of compasses or some tracing paper’ – however I have managed to make do without and purchased a 2nd hand set of compasses off ebay (which replaced a big complex set so takes up much less space anyway). It was quite nice treating myself to a new sketchbook too instead of thinking – jings, this one was one of my dad’s he never used and then I never used either, lol. I found a lot of paints had dried up and just got chucked but I’ve managed to sell / pass on to others / give away to charity lots of supplies with no regrets. And now I find it has freed me up to actually start drawing occasionally again 🙂

    • Hi Sheryl, I am sorry to hear you are in a declutter slump. Activating the Energizer Bunny in you would be great. Doing stuff releases endorphins that buoy you up and gives you more energy. Sometimes you just have to kick yourself in the pants and get on with it. I know this because I sometimes get in a slump, especially if I have been unwell. Sometimes I don’t get fully better until I decide enough is enough, if I just act normal I will begin to feel normal. Good luck!

  11. Aargghhh, the motorbike dilemma. Hubs and I both have beloved BMWs and last year hardly used them – such a trauma – I know I ‘should’ sell it but….. I love it and it is a really trusty steed and paid for – if I sell it I wont be able to afford to replace it – having gone part time at work – and I now work from home most of the time so don’t use it for commuting. We both have too many hobbies – we justify this cos we live in a country with really changeable weather so it allows us to do things at different times of the year but honestly – the amount of stuff is not much fun. We find we go through phases of using different stuff and there just isn’t enough time in one year to do all of the activities all of the time, bah humbug. I keep thinking I will take up some of the activities again later in life and the kit is so expensive – cheaper just to store it until…..blah blah 🙂
    Reading this post today was very timely – I just decided this morning to get round to taxing the bike again – if only it would stop raining!!!!!! I got fed up getting wet and cold on it every time I went out…but it is just the best way to get about.
    Thanks for making me think about it all again – it’s good to keep on re-assessing…