March to the beat of your own decluttering drum ~ By: Nicole V

I came across a hyperlink to an article last year about hiding clutter in the home in “secret” spots. Intrigued and curious (why would the writer ask readers to hide their clutter, instead of getting rid of it, I wondered?), I went on to read the article. It turned out to be about hidden storage for items at home (think: platform beds with storage drawers and hidden cabinetry), rather than squirrelling away or stashing your clutter out of sight, which was my first impression upon reading the title.

This led me to wonder whether anyone would have followed the tips given if the write-up had actually been about ways to hide your clutter, which in turn led me to question whether people follow decluttering advice to the letter or if they tweak it to suit their needs or even ignore certain aspects of it, depending on which stage of the decluttering journey they are at.

When I first came across Colleen’s blog, I was taken by the simplicity and ease of her one-item-a-day decluttering method. It was something that I could do immediately – there was no complicated manual to decipher, nothing to purchase and no preparation was required in order to get started. I decluttered my first item that same day and told my husband about it and he was soon on board. I have read a plethora of decluttering and organizing tips in online articles, as well as in magazines and books and have found many helpful and interesting bits of advice. Some of the information was irrelevant to me – not because it was bad, per se – it was just unsuitable for me and the circumstances at that time.

An example that comes to mind is some sporting equipment that had not been used for ages (for far longer than the usual one-year period that is often cited, for allowing something to take up precious space in your home and in your life), and that remained where it was, in good condition, but with absolutely no indication whether it would ever be used again. And one evening, a spontaneous decision was made, to take up that particular sport again; and a couple of days later, the items were being used. It has been about nine months now and they are still being used on a weekly basis.

You know how you always read that you should declutter first before buying storage solutions? Well, we were still in the throes of decluttering when I felt that the existing limited storage was not only not working for us, but was making our home look gloomy. Although we had gotten rid of a great deal of stuff, we were by no means done. I felt disheartened as I couldn’t give the belongings that were “keepers” a proper home and I felt that having a place for them would also enable me to see the actual progress that had been made. So, we took measurements and went out and purchased the absolute minimum amount of storage that we were willing to have. It was a tremendous boost for me as I could actually see everything being neatly put away for easy retrieval and I could see space opening up across our home. It was thus worthwhile to cherry-pick and create a “customized decluttering package” for ourselves.

So, I’m interested to know whether there were any decluttering principles that you tried, which did not work for you. Was there any advice that you read which you ignored or deliberately went against? Or did you adapt or modify anything? What did you do and why?

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter some paperwork that you keep because you think you should, when in fact a digital copy would suffice. Scan the items and save them to your hard drive or a cloud. Papers such as manuals, old school papers, bills more then two payments old…

“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 leave lights on when you aren’t in a room. It takes no longer than the blink of an eye to switch lights on and off, so make the effort to save every precious second of electricity.

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. yes.
    haha. That was the short answer… here is the long one: I mean yes there were any decluttering principles that I tried, which did not work for me. Yes, there is LOTS of advice that I have read which I have ignored or deliberately went against AND yes, I have adapted and modified all sorts of tips and tricks. The reason why is because some techniques didn’t apply to my situation (but I wanted change from the cluttered life) so I’d try them on for size.
    Things that prevent me from trying techniques to the letter: Everyone in the house isn’t on board (or it’s not my stuff to deal with), I love the items too much to be subjective enough, physical or practical concerns (giant china cabinet is an heirloom of my husband’s that goes with the dining room table and we use the table so can’t split the set without family backlash), temporary situations/emergencies that through EVERYTHING into chaos (baby, broken leg, move, job loss, etc). There are different phases of my life that require different strategies – and sometimes even different rooms need different strategies too! I’m open to most of them some where or other!
    Also some decluttering styles are a little too “spiritual” for me to take 100% seriously, but I like the ideas behind them (Feng Shui for example). So wandering around with map in hand I attempted to clear out areas that were “clogged” to a point – after all there are some rooms that just HAVE to have the bookshelf or TV in a specific location because of windows, heaters, pathways or whatever.
    Completely emptying a room and only bringing back what is 100% useful or loved doesn’t seem to work for me either. It’s too traumatic, disruptive and severe for my comfort zone (the exception being my clothes closet and linens cupboard, I love clearing them out and putting things back in perfect order).
    Physical boundaries to limit collections works very effectively for me. Food stocks in the kitchen only, Christmas decorations limited to the hope chest, clothes in the bedroom only, coats in the front hall closet only…. if it can’t fit then I either can’t have it or I need to get rid of enough other things to make it fit!!! Harsh reality check (I don’t allow myself to buy more storage if at all avoidable).
    I also love giving myself permission to keep a favourite of something and one good back up and letting go of the other not-so-great versions (thinking of tools, grooming items, etc). Being allowed to remove the not-so-effective tweezers, the useless egg flipper and the leaky watering can is awesome!
    I do like clearing as I go, the one-a-day method is great for me, but sometimes it’s more than one thing per day and other days I don’t get to selecting something. I don’t pressure myself, just content that I am making decisions as they come. Somehow it is so soothing knowing these choices are not life-or-death just simple items that are going on to a different place. “Thanks for coming, it was nice to meet you, have a nice day” as it’s put in the charity box in my hall closet (which when full goes into my trunk immediately).
    Books. A phycological minefield! Aspirational clutter if there ever was some! I have piles of books I want to read. I really do! But things like housekeeping, work, exercise, garden and family time all seem higher on the priority list than curling up with a potentially good read. I have not found a clutter theory in any form that tackles books in a way that I want to try.

    • Creativeme – I am curious, what book decluttering theories have you heard/tried? AND have you heard Marie Kondo’s (the Japanese expert) on un-read books?

      • Off the top of my head, Morgenstern, Kingston, Aslett, Leeds, Lockwood, St. James, Walsh and loads of TV shows and blogs…
        What can I say, I like the subject!
        Some focus more on the end result, some look more in depth at the phsycological barriers and/or sources, some focus on the process of removing things, and some break it down into schedules or systems.
        I have not looked at Kondo’s approach to books very closely, I watched a cute little video and that’s as far as I have got with her so far.

        • Creativeme – seeing as you’re quite open minded I’m going to suggest you read her book – substitute the word ‘cleaning’ for organise or declutter as you read it – when I read her thoughts on unread books, I hadn’t come across such a line of thinking before.

    • Creative me….I agree with Moni! Read Marie Kondo’s take on un-read books. Also, Karen Kingston (Clear your clutter with Feng Shui) has a great take on un-read and read books as well.

    • Hi, creativeme.

      “There are different phases of my life that require different strategies – and sometimes even different rooms need different strategies too!” – I do agree with you on this.

      I have mentally tried the concept of completely emptying out a room and bringing back only what is useful and loved. It helped me to visualize what I would take with me if we move or right-size in future.

      I also like and practise the concept of limiting storage space for items and collections. I’ve done that for my much-loved books, and I totally get what you said about your books. What type of theories have you come across so far regarding books?

    • Hi creativeme!
      In the last 2 weeks I went through 4 bookshelves, thoroughly cleaned and dusted each book. I donated 45 books. I have had hundreds of books that I’ve gotten rid of and it’s time to let go of more. What helped me this time were these questions:
      1. Would I buy it again?
      2. Do I have enough time to read or reread it? And do I really want to reread it?
      3. Could I get it again if I found I really needed it ? This was tricky because books do go out of print and I read and reread real books not books on a device. That led to the question: who is the person who “needs” this book? Is she the same person who bought and read this book in the past or is she in new phase of her life where dusting books is not really fun?
      4. Do I want to take it with me when I move (which will happen eventually to everyone!)?
      If I didn’t immediately know that I wanted to let go of a book, I asked myself the above questions and tried to slow down and really listen. Hope this helps with the book issue. Thanks for your post, I can definitely relate!

      • Great advice Margo. Applies to so much more than books :).

      • I just picked out a book to read from my mountain of tsundoku and found a felted MOTH CASING in the spine! Darn it, the little pests have invaded my books! That in itself is motivation to go through and clean them thoroughly!

  2. Oh yeah, I think I modify decluttering recommendations to suit my own purposes. I like the suggestions from everyone and especially liked the color-coordinated declutter days. 🙂 What works for one person may not work for another. I like Colleen’s idea of setting something out of the way in a temporary spot to see if I come back to wanting/needing the thing.

    I will never forget one of episode of Peter Walsh’s show where he was literally fit to be tied because of how many storage tubs a person had. You could not even walk through their home, there were bins everywhere! Just because the stuff was in bins didn’t make it less cluttered.

    Now, please don’t get me wrong, I am in love with organized spaces. And I love being able to lay my hand on something the moment I need it. My two bad areas are still “sentimental” clutter and “holiday” clutter. I feel super good about how many books and knick-knacks I have gotten rid of. Oh, and old toiletries – very pleased with that progress. And I sure enjoy hearing about everyone’s progress here in this blog.

    • Hi, Michelle. I really liked the 365 rainbow (as Wendy B so aptly described it) missions, too. And I do believe that many of us have a clutter nemesis (or two) that we are working on. I tell myself that it’s okay to go slow, as long as I don’t stop and I often remind myself of this Japanese proverb: Fall seven times, stand up eight.

  3. Q: “….whether there were any decluttering principles that you tried, which did not work for you?”
    A: Yup. “Get rid of duplicates.” I had two red cardigans, so I put one in my donate bag. The NEXT day, I went to wear the remaining one, and discover it was all thinned out on the one side and you could practically see through it! I tossed that in the garbage and pulled out the “duplicate” from the donate bag. Good thing I still had it. Now I’ve decided to keep the good clothes that I like, even if I have duplicates (like 3 purple shirts LOL). That way, when stuff wears out, I don’t have to go buy new.

    • Hi, Doeraymee. That’s a funny story … and you still got rid of a duplicate. 🙂 Whatever floats your boat when it comes to decluttering, I say.

  4. I will admit I am a modifier. I seldom do things “to the letter.” I also find that I tend to declutter more than one thing at a time. I like to tackle some things/rooms all at once. I’m just one of those people who do things as they fit the time/space/item-type. The one thing I always do is try to keep things decluttered as much as possible and keep buying to the minimum.

    • Hi, Deb J. Well said! Before I came across Colleen’s blog, I had decluttered parts of our home that had got out of hand. After I read her blog, I began the one-item-a-day method while still tackling other areas. Colleen’s method works beautifully because it can be applied on its own or in conjunction with whatever other methods I’m using.

  5. I was thinking about this just the other day… my decluttering methods changed so much. I became so ruthless…

    I started decluttering with the excess stuff out and nothing new in method. I gathered everything that belonged together. I rearranged, I decluttered even more, I rearranged more, I got a nice idea of my belongings. then I got a job and I was not so focused on my home anymore, things got back in and I needed to adapt to the lifestyle (think building an office-wardrobe from scratch).
    I still buy things..I try to be much more aware and do my research first, but mispurchases happen. Like my internet radio that was supposed to wake me every morning: I knew what I wanted, I did check it out first, but then it was just not the right thing for me in the long term, I didnt use it and a friend is now very happy to have a new kitchen radio. I however took the amazing 70s alarm clock that my friend decluttered.
    Nowadays I declutter much more with the “designated space” method. Like my CD collection gets one shelf. if I want new CDs, I need to let go of others. I am happy with this solution and it works just fine. I usually give away my books once I finished.
    I did surprise myself when I packed away almost my entire kitchen in november in one go. I was so sick of struggling with doing the dishes, I decided to pack it away and only use one cup, one plate, etc. Everybody called me nuts, but it was amazing… I did get a couple of more things for when I am having guests, but its not much. I am currently living with 2 knives, 2 plates, 2 cups, 2 glasses, 3 forks, 2 spoons, 2 small spoons, the garlic press (oh how I love my garlic press), and the normal set of pots/pans/bowls. It is basically a third of what I had before and I have to say, I am super happy with it.

    • Idgy of the North

      Lena – I love what you did in the kitchen. I need to do something similar, but need to convince spouse first

    • Lena, I love your kitchen idea! In reality, I only use a handful of items in my kitchen, similar to what you have identified. But I have dozens more items, aspirational clutter I guess, chosen over the years for that miracle point in time when I am married, when I have kids, when ‘we’ have guests over, etc. I don’t need any of these things now, haven’t needed them for the past 12 years (that I’ve had my own kitchen), no idea when I will actually ‘need’ to use them. But I haven’t been able to get rid of any of them, they are just too closely tied into the dream of the life I am hoping isn’t too far off! Sigh.

      • lol. I hear my mum – “wait until you have a husband and children – you will need (place item of choice)”. it always left me speechless – no logic can fight with that.

        in the end you can of course surround yourself with the belongings of your future-self, but dont forget present-you wants to live comfortably as well. I can only speak for myself but I am sure a lot of people agree: I for sure changed a lot my opinion, and things that I considered important not so long ago are just useless to me now. maybe you should future-self decide what things they want.

        • Thanks Lena. Yeah after I had typed it all out, I thought, this is ridiculous! Now I have truly admitted it to myself and to you all, I feel like I need to make more of an effort to separate the emotion from it all and really look at each of these items. Over the weekend, I did manage to let go two cupcake trays and a blue and white bowl, so, that is progress!

          • Yes. That is progress! Congratulations. Just Start with the easy Stuff First. You will See: You will get addicted to the feeling of “letting go”… Your kitchen will Change slowly but Surely.

    • Hi, Lena. I enjoyed reading your decluttering evolution story. I think it’s great that you tried something and were flexible enough to let it go when it wasn’t working out for you. As for those who thought you were nuts, well, there was method to your madness and you are having the last laugh.

    • That sounds like a great minimalist kitchen! The 2 of everything but 3 forks made me laugh. Why 3 forks, if I may ask?

      • funny, isnt it? I find one needs a fork for a lot of things. like getting spaghetti out or holding potatoes while peeling or I dont know. I have more forks in use than other utensils. So I have one fork more. I probably could do with just two but it would annoy me for sure.

    • Lena, I love what you did!

      As I moved, there are still many former kitchen items sitting packed up… I hosted one birthday brunch since then and unpacked plates, glasses and cups as needed. Tomorrow will be the next “gathering” at our place and will show wether there are still things missing… I think I will continue to “shop my boxes” to add what is needed to the kitchen and then check how much stays unused and decide whether I am too sentimental with it or wether I will declutter it.

      • Just today I had people over for breakfast so we needed more plates, cups, cuttlery. No Problem – just open the box find the stuff and get on with it. I am positive that I will clean those items and then they just go back. They wont live in the kitchen for sure.

        my biggest problem was that I used everything before I cleaned them. I tried to stick to the “clean after use”, but I failed. miserably. so I always had a huge amount of stuff to clean and it took me far too long. And then I wouldnt use the kitchen anymore, because just looking at the task was annoying and then I would go out for food and then I would spend too much money and then I get frustrated and I want to use my kitchen, but oh look, I dont feel like washing my dishes before cooking, so lets go out for dinner today “just this once” – and then the circle never ends.

        now that I have the minimalist kitchen, I can basically clean all of it in 5 minutes. I do it while waiting for the kettle or the coffe or so. much easier. much nicer.

    • Like camping! I always find the camping kitchen liberating. One of each item per person and a good multipurpose pot for cooking. Simplicity itself.

  6. Lol – for me it was Colleen’s one thing a day approach that doesn’t work for me 🙂 I’m more productive in short, high energy, focused bursts. But this blog gave me two important tools – 1) daily motivation and tips to keep restarting decluttering and 2) permission to make it a journey, not another failed project, and to take all the time I need to get there.
    I’m so thankful to be part of the 365LT community 🙂

    • Gail, I have to admit to being guilty of this too! For a while there I was getting rid of things en masse, then at some point nothing was leaping out at me any more. This blog keeps me inspired to keep going with the decluttering, in spirit even if not in practicality every day. I tend to read the mini missions, get inspired, then find about 10 things (usually in less than 10 minutes) that I can let go of, even though prior to that inspiration I would swear I didn’t have any clutter left! 🙂

    • Hi, Gail. I enjoy being a part of the 365LT community, too. I love the diversity of views, perspectives and angles, and all the different stories. It’s a heart-warming tapestry spun off Colleen’s blog.

  7. A comment from CarolAnn, received via email
    Being a teacher, collector, hoarder descendent, and ACOA–shopping is my alcohol; I have 48 years of stuff. Growing up our home was very dysfunctional so I was always worried day to day about having the stuff I needed. SO if the spaces where things go or used to go aren’t filled it causes me great anxiety. It also causes me to buy for others to make me happy. Over the years, especially the last 2, I have learned to understand the reasons why I do the things I do. Now it’s time to fix it. As I began searching for ways to help myself, I discovered many ideas and combined them to fit my own. Even though I can’t do everything on all of them I read all the sites/post/blogs each day, usually at bedtime for inspiration, affirmation, understanding, & ideas. All of the ideas or items to declutter (that I can use) I save/type in a folder on my ipad. I work two jobs: teaching & 20-25 hours at a grocery store plus have two teenagers so some days I have more time than others to do the tasks. As I complete a task, I delete it. I read this site, Fly Lady, Becoming A Minimalist, White House Black Shutters, DeClutter 365, Bowl Full of Lemons and 40 Bags in 40 Days.

    So every night before I go to bed I check my calendar for the following day, my sink is clean (I don’t do it in the morning because I’m the first to leave) & I lay out my clothes for the next day. In the morning while everyone is still sleeping I pack cold lunches, plan supper for the evening to be sure we have what we need, declutter my item/items of the day, power clean for 15 min in the room/ hot spot of the day. In the evening if I don’t work at the store then I work on the project of the day. Then its my time to read my sites again. I’m also a little OCD and I sweep the kitchen & vacuum every night.

    On weekends if I’m home long enough then I work on some of the tasks I missed for the week.

    My two biggest roadblocks are my perfectionism…sounds funny a hoarder who is a perfectionist and not being able to get rid of something automatically. I always have to ponder who might need it!!

    It may all sound crazy but its what works for me. I am so thankful for this site and all the others that have helped me start down my path. :):):)


    • CarolAnn – I am exhausted just reading all that!

    • Carol Ann,

      Not that you have a spare minute to read another blog, but you might enjoy Slow Your Home. It’s a blog by another nice Australian lady. I really like it.

    • Hi, CarolAnn. I admire your fortitude, perseverance and sheer hard work, and I wish you well on your journey.

      A hoarder who is a perfectionist does not sound funny to me. We are all different in our own ways and yet tied by the common thread of humanity. I love this quote by Thoreau:

      If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.

  8. I came to 365 Less Things as I had been working by myself (not fun) and googling for tips and advice ie how to declutter wardrobe or kitchen or whatever it was. I think it must have been something tricky like CD’s, DVD’s or books as I ended up reading an archived post.

    This hit and miss method kind worked but only if I actually decided to do decluttering and it depended on where google took me whether it was pro-storage solution or pro-extreme minimalism and anywhere in between.

    When I ended reading the 365 post that I landed on, everyone seemed quite happy, everyone had a different take on what they wanted to achieve and it seemed almost like a cyber quilting bee. The daily mini missions were awesome because it became a daily thing – sometimes I got rid of one thing, nothing or many many things – but it became a regular thing rather than a one-off event when the mood struck me or when necessity required it ie visitors arriving.

    • Moni,

      I think making it a regular thing rather than a when-the-mood strikes thing is what makes the 365 method so effective!

      • Melanie – when I first started with mini-missions I thought the item of the day actually had to leave the house and onto its new home or location, so I was dashing all over the place dropping off things to Charity stores, recycling depots, stuff to kindergartens, stuff to relatives and so I’d feel it was a odd to drop one piece of clothing to goodwill so I’d fill a bag to make it worthwhile. I couldn’t understand how everyone seemed so relaxed about their mini mission of the day. I later learned the item could be put in an ‘out’ box to be eventually filled and THEN dropped off to charity.

    • Hi, Moni. LOL – “cyber quilting bee”! Colleen is a good motivator in getting us to regularly exercise our decluttering muscles.

    • Hi Moni,

      “cyber quilting bee” haha that made me laugh and it’s just about how I see this site as well, although I don’t sew… It’s like an open club for like minded people to come and share and chat and declutter and have fun 🙂

  9. The best decluttering advice I could give is what has always worked for me. As you change, as your children change, as your life changes, get rid of what doesn’t fit any longer. It is a never ending process. Whether it was the dehydrator that you used constantly when you had a plethora of fruit trees in your yard, but don’t use since you moved and have no “free” fruit to dehydrate or the career type clothing when you worked but are now retired or the extra dishes, glasses etc. when you used to entertain, but don’t any longer etc. etc. etc. Things become clutter when they are no longer used or enjoyed by anyone in your household. I think getting rid of what we no longer use solves 90% of the problem. I can’t even imagine looking in our closet and seeing my husband’s leisure suits and polyester shirts from the John Travolta Saturday night fever disco days hanging there. They were great for that time and were let go of when that time had passed. Why I used that example, I have no idea. Guess, I really loved the 70’s.

    • Hi, Kimberley. I totally agree with you that not “getting rid of what we no longer use” is a major factor when it comes to clutter. I feel that it is never too early to teach children such a crucial skill and life lesson. And LOL at the SNF polyester shirts!

  10. I like what you wrote Nicole V 🙂 I do like to march to the beat of my own drum with backup singers like Colleen and declutteres.
    I browse other declutter sites, but stick to Colleen’s blog because it’s a great guide and I love the comments from everyone. The mini missions are gentle reminders, not strict guides to ” follow or fail”. Everyone is on this journey together and the support network here , at 365 less things is very nurturing.
    I like the concept of folding clothes neatly and placing them side by side in the drawers as seen on YouTube.
    I save the lists that are a guide for cleaning and decluttering my home, but never refer to them again .
    My decluttering is connected to cleaning. First the rubbish is removed ( broken, beyond repair or out of date) and then items that are not used anymore.
    I need to share my latest news, I was unable to update my iPad and iPhone because of the 3000 plus photos on them which reduced the amount of storage available. I assumed they automatically went to iCloud . So the last couple of days I have been occupied with sharing my photos to iCloud, then deleting them off my iPad and iPhone thus enabling new updates which make life that little bit easier. The photos are now in the one place which makes for easier editing.
    Ps I also enjoyed the day out with Colleen and I best clean my car out so we can do it again soon;)

    • Hi, WendyF … and thank you! I like your analogy of the back-up singers – it brought Gladys Knight & The Pips to mind. 🙂 Yes, Colleen has created a blog that has attracted a remarkable community. Build something good and the people will come.

    • Wendyf – can you tell me about iCloud for photos please?

      • Do you have Apple computers Moni? When you go to the photos there is a little cloud with and arrow pointing up, I tap on that and my photos are shared on iCloud. I nominate who can see them. They are then accessible from all my devices and those I nominate to share. Best bet is to go to the Apple Store and get someone to explain it to you.

        • Wendyf – we have a mix. We have the traditional family PC, two Mac laptops (the students) and two iPads (my husband and I), 3 iPhones (4, 5 & 6 – naturally I have the 4 and the impoverished student has the 6) and my husband and son have Samsung Galaxy smart phones. There hasn’t really been any thought to the bigger picture when it comes to technology in our household, however all the kids could leave as soon as next year (though probably not) so until then…….

          I have a Dropbox account but I have been thinking lately that I really need to sync my phone and iPad and learn all that sort of stuff.

  11. Great guest post!

    I go back and forth with different de-cluttering ideas, depending on how I feel. In fact, I found this blog one day after I had decided to get rid of one item per day (I had some areas, i.e., garage that were too big to tackle all at once). I wondered if anyone else did it that way, so I did a search and found 365LT. I didn’t really need to know how to de-clutter, but I wanted people to share it with. Although I don’t always follow the mini-missions, they are very inspirational, and I love all the different posts and comments. 365-ing one thing a day works for me because there’s no pressure involved. Just find the item and get on with the day.

    I don’t follow other programs or books, mostly because they just don’t fit my life. FlyLady is very inspirational, but she focuses too much on cleaning for my taste. I don’t have kids or pets, so I just clean as needed (kitchen every day). 40 Bags In 40 Days is another great idea, but I don’t have that much stuff. And some other programs/blogs focus more on organizing clutter rather than getting rid of it.

    So, I stick to 365-ing one item a day. Sometimes I do a lot more than one item a day, but I love that there is no pressure to do so. I’m in the mood to clean out my closet, so I’ll probably do that all at once. But I never would have started on the garage if I had to do it in one day or weekend.

  12. Hi, Melanie … and thank you! I still remember your first comment on Colleen’s blog because of how you wittily verbified 365 and also because you were the first minimalist prepper I came across. 🙂 I couldn’t agree more with your “Just find the item and get on with the day” comment.

    • Nicole,

      LOL, I intended to say something about my prepping in my comment, but I forgot. By far, the biggest “march to the beat of my own de-cluttering drum” example I have is coming to terms with the fact that I am a minimalist AND a prepper. I think a lot of minimalists would kick me out of their “club” for that, but that’s okay. My supplies are well organized and not hoardy (hoardish?), and I think that’s what we all strive for in the end.

      • Melanie – throughout my decluttering journey I have been a ballet mum and dancing is definarely not minimalist, the ‘just in case’ is usually quite realistic approach to all their stuff and gear. But it can be done and the rest of your life can be minimalistic. If you don’t mind me asking, what are you prepping for?

        • Hi Moni!

          We (my husband and I) prepare for things like power outages, storms, and things that can strike our area such as hurricanes, tsunamis, or earthquakes. Those last three things are unlikely yet possible, but even a bad rain can wash the road out and cause the power to go out for a while. So we keep extra food, water, and supplies on hand. Most of our supplies are camping gear, which we also use for camping. I also keep a large first aid kit, as a washed-out road would block access to the hospital. This stuff fits neatly along two walls in a spare room. Close that door, and the rest of my house looks quite sparse!

          We prepare out of a desire to be self-reliant and to help others, not out of fear. I think there are some TV shows that make preppers look like nuts, but we’re perfectly normal. Well, almost. 🙂

          If I recall, you mentioned that your father was in Civil Defense, so you must know a lot about disaster preparing and relief.

          I hope your daughters enjoy dance as much as I did! It sounds like they are more serious about it than I was. I never trained in a competitive way, but I loved it anyway.

          • Melanie – I couldn’t recall if you were one of the full-on preppers who build underground bunkers and have several years worth of supplies or if you just had some stuff put aside. Here in New Zealand you wouldn’t even be considered a prepper because everyone is supposed to have an emergency kit with enough food and water for three days. Consider yourself an honorary Kiwi. I’m guessing the strong Civil Defence message here comes from all the natural disasters we are vulnerable to and our geographical isolation. On the other hand, it is a small country and if my city was hit by something, there are two major cities within an hour’s drive and defence stationed three and four hours away, so help would be on the way pretty quickly.

            Yes my dad has a lot to say on the subject – especially to keep an old pair of spectacles, keep medications stocked up, a spare can of baby formula (babies don’t respond well to a sudden change in diet) and please ladies, personal hygiene products. True fact, you might not be ‘due’ but stress will often bring on most of the female population of an area during a natural disaster. Oh and pet food, transport cage and vet records. Another 365er from Christchurch had another good point – cask wine not bottles, so they don’t smash. A glass of wine might sound a bit of a luxury but stress levels will be high and it can be medicinal.

            I found because my dad I had a tendancy to overstock or to be a bit too ‘professional’. I think I had the mindset that I’d have to look after the entire neighbourhood. I have a friend who is a both a nurse and a search and rescue personnel. She taught me about ‘improvised’ first aid as she can only carry a limited supply of first aid equipment when she is on a search and rescue and in her opinion a household is full of regular items which can be used. She once stopped at a road accident and the driver had some deep gashes, she carries a good first aid kit but ambulance staff will need to see and access the wounds themselves so she simply put onto this guys arm a sanitary pad and wrapped it with a bandana.

            Back to topic. Yes we have an emergency kit kept in the hall cupboard which also houses our sleeping bags and lanterns. This only takes up one shelf. We have plastic water cans in the garage but we also have hot water cylinders in our houses so we can also access that water too.

      • Yup, you are right about that, Melanie.

  13. When I first started off I sticked to decluttering daily – also, I rotated rooms in doing that – I picked one room per day to clean (similar to the fly lady approach, but not quite) and decluttered an item (or more) from that room while cleaning in there. After a few weeks, my bathroom was decluttered and I let go of that rotating rooms principle. Still I decluttered daily for about one or two years. Through that time there were also “big purges” on days off, after birthdays or christmas, before flea markets or just when the mood striked.
    These “purges” continue, but I don’t declutter every day anymore. Not intentionally. The decluttering has really become a habit and before I know it, I use up leftovers when cooking, toss broken stuff, re-gift unwanted gifts, refuse or donate things that have become unnecessary to me. There is still continually a bag with items to donate in my home. So, I don’t keep track that much anymore, but it still happens on a daily or near-daily basis. Sometimes, I pick a little project like last year’s summer and raise my pace.
    I find that there is a time for everything (every method), but there are also times when they just don’t fit as well. However, to continually keep at it, even slowly, brings along such a change in mindset that the methods don’t even matter anymore.
    By the way, although my boyfriend never took on reading decluttering sites or so, he took the same journey with me. I have been mad at times that he wasn’t going fast enough but to be fair, he did get rid of a lot over the last years. At one point we filled almost 5 (0.7x2m) bookcases with our combined books and comics, now we are down to one… yes, only a fourth of them are mine, but still, he did reduce his by two thirds as well.
    As I read about Deb J’s mother I realize that it’s quite common that those living with us change over time as well. This should be a great hope for those at the begin of their journey struggling with their loved ones’ clutter.

    • Hi Sanna,

      I have always enjoyed reading your posts and comments… And I especially like how you finished this recent comment “… those living with us change over time…” That makes it seem hopeful for the rest of us… There are a lot of currently “unwilling” housemates out there! 🙂

      • Hi Peggy,
        thank you for your kind words! 🙂
        I hope your housemates will join your way rather sooner than later!

  14. Hi, Sanna. It’s great that you have internalized many aspects of decluttering and formed good habits that have become second nature to you.

  15. 365 Less Things is my favorite decluttering blog, but I don’t use the one-a-day method. I have a scheduled decluttering time once a week and I do an area (generally a box, shelf, drawer, or type of item) and I let go of as much from that as I can. I prefer my current system, but I still find the posts and missions here useful and motivating.

    • Hi, Christine. It looks like you have found just the right combination for yourself – your current system coupled with inspiration from Colleen’s blog. Sounds good to me. 🙂

  16. Great post, Nicole V, thank you, and I am very inspired reading through all the comments too. This is such a supportive and encouraging community. I have found the mini missions idea very helpful because even if I don’t do them on the assigned day, or do more at a time, it still nurtures the mindset of getting rid of something rather than acquiring something. And it really is a process that keeps evolving as our lives change but I think that once the fundamental idea is in place, that the goal is to live a life uncluttered by excess possessions which bring no use or joy to our days, then we start to live that way and as Sanna said above it becomes a habit.

  17. Hi, Christine. Thank you for your kind words. I really like this – ” … nurtures the mindset of getting rid of something rather than acquiring something. And it really is a process that keeps evolving as our lives change but I think that once the fundamental idea is in place, that the goal is to live a life uncluttered by excess possessions which bring no use or joy to our days, then we start to live that way …”. Well said!

  18. I use the thing a day most days. Sometimes I get an item and then keep decluttering more. Like the last two days I decided I wanted to get rid of a hutch that was storing my craft supplies. In the process of cleaning out the hutch I found hundreds of dollars worth of creative memories scrapping booking supplies. I haven’t scrap booked in 10 years, I bundled them for my garage sale to be held in a few mins months. I also got rid of 20 stamp sets, that I had used a lot, but not in the last 10 years. Everything was neatly hidden away in the hutch.

    So I use the daily missions to get me started & if I find a hidden area I work on that. This site & people are very encouraging to the process. Thank you all for that.

    • Hi, Calla. That’s some great work there regarding your hutch. I hope your garage sale goes well. And yes, the 365 community rocks!

  19. Hi Nicole V,

    This is a very interesting post! I say “take what you like and leave the rest” when it comes to any decluttering or organizing advice. For years, I was very into “organizing” and read everything I could about that topic. However, since reading 365LT, I have come to understand my “cluttering faults”. I did not realize that I was defeating my own efforts by buying duplicates (to have “abundance” and “choices”) and storage bins to store those things??? How could it take me so long to see that??? Colleens’ (and all her guests’) posts have helped me to question my goals and methods with regards to decluttering and stuff. It is this questioning that is so helpful in making progress. That is what your post has brought to my mind, that it’s more than okay to question everything 🙂

    • Hi, Peggy … and thank you! You’ve understood the kernel of my post and what I meant by cherry-picking and creating a customized decluttering package.

  20. I’ve been following the blog and the give and take for a few weeks now. Truly a breath of fresh air! A horrible hurricane season a decade ago gave me some real insight as to what I really cared about, material wise. I realized that I couldn’t save everything I thought was precious to me. Knowing that it could all be gone sort of freed my mind. BUT then normalcy returned and I continued to accumulate things. I’ve had periodic bursts of “I have to get rid of this STUFF!”, but it didn’t stick. In January I decided decluttering had to move up to the top of my list. One thing I do when I am feeling a tad overwhelmed is I mentally pack my car. Only so much will fit (obviously I am not thinking of furnishings) and is it important enough to my well being that I need to give it room? It helps a little bit! Now that the end of March is here and I am still going strong on “less things”, I feel like I have turned a corner and will be able to continue. Thank you Colleen and all your contributors and commentators, you have all been so helpful!

    • Hi Karen and welcome to 365 Less Things. There is nothing like imminent disaster to make you access what is meaningful to you. I am sure I would pack too much into my trunk. I wish you every success with your continued decluttering.

    • Hi, Karen. Keep at it … the decluttering journey is a marathon and not a sprint. As R.L. Stevenson said, “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.”

  21. Great post Nicole and so many great responses too. Such a good conversation going on with lots of ideas.
    Even I take of my own advice what I like and leave the rest. Some days I follow one rule and another the next.

    • Thank you for your kind words and for giving me the opportunity to write, Colleen. You have a unique blog and community.