Manage your time

How much time do you waste in your day then profess to have no time to get your house in order. No time to begin decluttering that stuff that is making it difficult to keep your house in order.

We are all entitled to downtime. I am not going to argue that fact. The question is has your downtime taken over. And do you actually feel better or worse for it. I know that when I have been sitting idle for too long not doing anything useful I start getting agitated and feel the need to get up and make myself useful. I think it is a guilt feeling from being slothful. Once again I am not talking about rest time I am talking about wasted time when enough rest has already been had.

As this weeks mini missions show it isn’t hard to find a little time every now and again to fit in a little delcuttering or perhaps you could even use the time to do some much needed quick tasks around your house. In the time it takes to boil the kettle and brew the tea I can manage to empty the dishwasher. During add times on television I can put away the folded washing. The washing itself can be folding while watching television, as can ironing, sorting papers, doing a decluttering of your jewellery box or make-up kit. You can even pull out a drawer, bring it into the living room and declutter while watching your favourite show. You can clean the rubbish out of your handbag while waiting for an appointment. There is sure to be a rubbish bin close by to throw the trash into. And with a little imagination you can find many periods where time can be better used.

This morning I was feeling listless so I did the ironing. I felt much better for it. This evening while my husband was watching a movie, I wasn’t that interested in, I did some reorganising and a little decluttering in my craft room. I must admit I am a little “different” because I actually enjoy organising and decluttering so I wouldn’t consider this task a chore, but you get the idea. I enjoy the challenge, thinking outside the box and, of course, the end result. And of course I enjoy my actual downtime when I take it, happy in the knowledge that I am keeping up with my household chores.

Lets go back to that ironing I mentioned. I don’t know anyone who enjoys ironing. I don’t have a lot of it and can easily ignore it in the laundry cupboard for weeks before clothing items are needed or my husband runs out of hankies. (Yes I iron the hankies, not linen, underwear, jeans or t-shirts though so please don’t judge.) When I say ignore, I mean the items that do require ironing won’t run down for a while. But one thing I hate worse than ironing is feeling like I have neglected a task until desperation sets in. Especially when I know that I have had plenty of opportunity to get on with the task sooner. It makes me feel lazy and inefficient which permeates my downtime.

I know from experience that many people feel a similar way about their lack of effort to declutter. They know they need to do it, that they want it done but can’t bring themselves to make the effort. And often their downtime is marred by that fact that they know this task is being neglected because the evidence of this is staring them right in the face. Goading them and nagging when they should be relaxed and tranquil. Hours and hours are wasted feeling far less than tranquil in the effort to avoid something that would take much less time to solve.

So don’t waste those spare minutes here and there where you can achieve more than you would expect. I have been following my own advice about this to the letter over for the last week and I have achieve things that have been waiting around for me to do for weeks if not months. Nothing that important but nevertheless things that have quietly been nagging me to get them done. Not only can I go on my vacation content with my achievements but when I get home I will be able to ease on into routine with

Today’s Mini Mission

While brushing your teeth open your peruse your toiletries and/or make-up in your bathroom and declutter something that you no longer use or is out of date.

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

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Continue reading with these posts:

  • Manage your time (From the archives) As I am on vacation in New Zealand for some time I will be republishing old posts from the archives to keep you all entertained and motivated while I am busy. I hope you will enjoy the […]
  • Slaying the “PROCRASTINATION” dragon ” By Jackie Do you have trouble with procrastination? Is “later” always the perfect time to do something? Are you stressed, missing deadlines, and constantly playing catch-up? Well…..hello! […]
  • Dithering? ~ By Peggy W I have dithered many times in my decluttering journey, unable to make a decision about my stuff.  Two of the “ditherees” left my house this morning because I needed soft fillers to […]
About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. Colleen, I think this is a big issue for many. I think motivation is a big part of this. I seldom have a problem with this but can occasionally find myself just not wanting to do it.

    • Hi Deb, I often ignore myself when I don’t feel like doing something because I know how much better I will feel once I get off my duff and do it. The getting up is the hardest part, once I start the task I get in the groove and just get it done.

      • Sometimes I can ignore myself but other times I give in to it and choose to do something else even if is another type of work.

  2. Hey! Have you been spying on me…sitting on my rear with “no time” to organize? Stop that!

  3. I can relate to both sides: I do know the feeling of too much idleness and how good it feels to get active, I also know times when sitting on the couch for two hours without having to get up and do anything at all is a real necessity (due to being busy any other moment of the week). These days I’m more on the really busy side, however, I also learned that tasks like cleaning and decluttering aren’t just time-consuming: quite the opposite in fact, because they save you time once they’re done. So, I do permit myself to rest, but I also see the benefits of spending some of my precious free time on house keeping tasks, as they allow me a smoother life during the rest of the time.

    • Exactly Sanna. Like I said this post isn’t about robbing yourself of downtime, we all deserve that. It is about being efficient which improves your surroundings and allows you to enjoy the downtime all the more.

  4. An exercise mantra comes to mind here: “I don’t want to do it, but I want to have done it.” Short term pain for long term gain, or the other way around? We have a choice. And this, Colleen, is where your “thing a day” philosophy for decluttering has helped me so much. It’s not overwhelming to choose one thing a day to declutter. And it’s not overwhelming to do a small cleaning or other job, either. All the little “one things” add up over time.

    • That is right Jo H, the small things add up. And if we just view them as a collection of small things rather than one huge task it isn’t so daunting. In fact it is easy to break them up and just get them done in small, otherwise wasted, periods of our day. I get so much done this way.
      And I do like your mantra.

  5. Good thoughts. When I was much younger I used to really under allocate time needed to get something done and over the past few years I decided to schedule my time better by being more realistic in my time estimate but ended up going to the other extreme and I would then decide I didn’t have enough time for the task. So I’m working on that too.

    • Hi Moni, I am guilty of this myself at times. I put some tasks off, usually one I am not that familiar with, thinking it will take a long period. Then when I finally get around to it I discover it didn’t take so long after all. I then laugh at myself for being so silly. I also enjoy the relief of knowing it is done and dusted.
      Unfamiliar tasks can be a bit of an unknown and can put you off. I have been trying a few new craft techniques lately which I am never sure how much time is involved. Or what the outcome will be for that matter. I have been pleasantly surprised with some and am sorry I put off trying them for so long. However the successes spur me on the try more and more things with less apprehension. And practice makes perfect as they say. Which is why I have made and packed a small sketch book in my carry-on along with a tiny set of watercolours. I know I can draw OK but I think I could be a lot better with practice. And the watercolours would add an extra dimension to my card crafting. They are such a small set the were left behind by my son. In the 18 months since he moved out they have never been used (clutter) so I figure I will give them a go and if after a while I decide I am not enjoying them I could give them away and lighten by load.

  6. I just finished an online course in Learning How to Learn ( that taught me something new about procrastination. It seems that when we look at a big project we dread doing, the thought registers in the same physical area of our brain where pain registers. So naturally, we do what we do when confronted with pain – we attempt to avoid it. However, the minute we refocus or re-frame our thinking by looking at the first step needed to successfully tackle a project — well, then the thought moves out of the area where pain registers and into an area I call the “getting things done” area. More focus – without the pain association! This has been such a tremendous help to me that I thought I would pass it on.

    • Hi Jackie and welcome to 365 Less Things. Wow this is really good stuff you have shared here, and makes so much sense. I am sure the other readers will love to take this in. Is it also the case that, for the sake of self preservation, we tend to remember painful things more clearly and it is any wonder that these memories jump to the forefront when confronting the same or similar situations. I will contact you via email on the possibility of writing a post about this for me. Thank you so much for sharing.

  7. So many good points here Colleen, and like others have said above I too often find that procrastinating about doing something often takes longer than just getting it done. This is especially true for me with yardwork which I tend to put off but when I actually go and do it I wind up enjoying myself and finding a few more things to do while out there. I will get out and weed this week! Yesterday my husband finally cleaned out two small drawers, it took 15 minutes or less, and a pile of things went into the recycling and there is now room for his (unironed!) hankies. This inspired me to go through the bathroom drawers, again a quick job but very satisfying to toss out a few old makeup items, wipe out the drawers and now see everything straight and tidy and accessible.

    I remember once reading in an organizing book about how many household tasks are very repetitive and just have to be done over and over again, and so it is important to pick a couple of different tasks to do each day, more one-off kind of things but that feel like an accomplishment. The author’s example was writing a letter to a friend (yes it was an old book!) but I do try to keep that in mind when planning out my days so that they don’t end up seeming like an endless stream of maintenance chores.

    • Hi Christine, thank you for a great comment. I think I am going to have to take some time to think about procrastination while on vacation. It is more painful that actually performing the task that is being avoided in my experience. So it is time I worked out a strategy to learn to avoid it altogether.

      I so like what the organising book advice.

  8. Colleen,
    I actually love ironing. I love the way the clothes look, always ready to wear. I love the crispness of the sheets and pillowcases when they have been pressed. Ditto for linen dish towels, tablecloths and cloth napkins (I haven’t used paper napkins in forty years). When my daughter was little, I even pressed the ribbons on her socks. I remember when I was learning how to sew, my home economics teacher (what’s that, haha?) taught me to press each seam open as I finished. She taught me that pressing (ironing) really makes the garment.

    • Hi Kimberly, well you are a very unusual person. 😉 I must say though that I don’t mind the ironing once I get started, it is just getting started that I don’t enjoy. When put that way it is just ridiculous to avoid it because one spends more time procrastinating over it that doing it so why torture oneself. Regardless of that there is no way in the world that I am going to start ironing sheets. I know what a home ec teacher is, I had one of those. And yes pressing seams open when sewing is a must.

  9. Very very good post colleen.
    I have been, am and probably always will be procrastinating. I was at my best at uni – writing an essay without deadline results in no essay at all – and that was visible in my place as well. I significantly improved it with a decluttered household. I still have projects lying and flying around in my flat. right now there are two big IKEA bags ready to sell, for example. But I am keeping it to one project at a time and I believe this is caused directly by my minimized, easy to organise household.

    my biggest lesson is to accept that I will always be a lazy person and that I have phases (couple of weeks to a couple of months) where I let myself go. in every aspect. I do however slide into a very efficient phase right after that. And then I tackle every little thing in my life again. Usually I develop new habits in that time (like decluttering!!) and keep those even when not in the full power mood.

    • I am glad you enjoyed the post Lena. I think sometimes that people think I love to do housework but that isn’t he case I just hate a messy house more than I dislike cleaning. However I do enjoy organising, the actions and the result. That probably has a lot to do with the fact that it makes life more efficient and save me work in the long run.

      • haha, same here. people would comment on my “tidy” living room. I dont even see it as tidy, but with 30 seconds clean up time, everything is in its place and its easy to manage… its not about the look of a messy room (that can be quite cozy), but I HATE searching my things. it feels like wasted time.
        imagine all those people who cant have guests because their house is not tidy enough… must be sad and frustrating. all of this negative energy, stuck in a home, with dead things instead of living people.

  10. Colleen – when you commented about putting off ironing, it made me wonder how you managed during crisis time. When your son was injured, did you attempt to keep order? How did you manage the house over time?

    • Colleen – if you don’t mind me also asking too? We have had a run of injuries and sickness in our household and I found it very hard to stay on top of housework during these times. On the weekend my son went to one of those indoor trampoline parks and his friend land on his head in the foam pit, so a trip to hospital for concussion and stitches. Then later the same night my husband came down with a stomach bug so I have had two sick guys at home this week. So I’d just caught up again from me having the flu and now the house needs another spring clean.

      • Hi Moni, your family is really in the wars at the moment and I am sorry for that. I hope your son is OK..
        I find that keeping up is fine when it is others in the house that are sick it is when you are sick yourself that things fall down. Luckily for me I haven’t had the problem for quite some time. And now the Steve is home most of the time and the kids have left home, keep the house in order is no problem at all. In fact these days I tend to make most of the mess when I am crafting. Of course I clear up after myself as well but with interruptions it is not unusual for a project to inhabit the kitchen bench or the spare bedroom for a couple of days. But who cares. It all gets sorted again soon enough and so long as everything else is in order it doesn’t really matter. It is a sacrifice I am prepared to make for creativity.

    • Hi Vicki, that is a very good question. I found that the best thing to do during that terrible time was to act as normal as possible. My husband and I still walked most days and did the household chores, found some time to go for coffee with friends, declutter edand I even got back to blogging ASAP. The one big help though was that my husband had plenty of long service leave and took a whole month off work, so we were together for each other and for Liam at the time. Buy the time the month was up Liam, miraculously was home. And it was a miraculous recovery. And let me say again the wonderful support and well wishes from my readers was a great comfort and I will always be grateful for that.