Mini Mission Monday ~ Clutter comes in all shapes, sizes and materials

mini-logoMini Mission Monday is about finding ten minutes a day to declutter. To make it easy for you, each Monday I set seven declutter missions, one for each day of the week for you to follow. It takes the guess work out of decluttering and makes it easy and “fun” for you to achieve some quick decluttering.

I could be wrong but I am sure that there are more than a few items that are common to most households. Kitchen clutter, paper clutter of all sorts, clothing, toiletries, shoes, toys when children are in the household… . This week though I will base by mini missions on some of the, perhaps less common, clutter items that I got rid of quite early in my decluttering journey. I’ll also give the reasons why I didn’t feel inclined to keep them.

Monday – Declutter something you don’t care to maintain. I decluttered a silver tea set very early on. I hated to have to clean it, so although it was a gift I let it go.

Tuesday – Declutter some sort of sporting equipment that you no longer enjoy to use. I decluttered my bicycle a long time ago. I did test ride it a couple of times to prove to myself whether I would ever use it or not and no won out.

Wednesday – Declutter keepsakes that you never bother to look at. I got rid of all sorts of these things early on and probably could still let a few of them go. I must get that box down and take another look. The fact that it is a box in the top of the closet goes to prove how much it matters.

Thursday – Declutter something you keep just because most people have one. I decluttered out BBQ soon after I began by declutter journey. It is almost sacrilegious to not own a BBQ in Australia but we just never used ours so out it went. Five years latter and we have never replaced it or missed it for that matter.

Friday – Declutter everyday stuff that you have way too much off. I culled stationery items in the early days, we had way more than we would ever need around the house. And once again, five years later we still haven’t had to buy more. How many paperclips, thumbtacks and staples does one need in an almost paperless society.

Saturday – Start a use-it-up mission on excess gift wrap and cards that have been lingering for a while. In future it is easy enough to  purchase a gift bag on the same outing as buying the gift. So you don’t have to stock these items in the house.

Sunday - Sunday is reserved for contemplating one particular item, of your choice that is proving difficult for you to declutter. Whether that be for sentimental reasons, practical reasons, because the task is laborious or simply unpleasant, or because the items removal requires the cooperation of another person. That last category may mean that the item belongs to someone else who has to give their approval, it could also mean there is a joint decision to be made or it could mean that the task of removing it requires assistance from someone else. There is no need to act on this contemplation immediately, it is more about formulating a plan to act upon or simply making a decision one way or another.

Good luck and happy decluttering

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About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. I find it funny that your keepsakes box lives in the top of the closet – mine lives in the bottom of the closet, along with a few other shoeboxes of things I never look at either. I’ve had ‘review sentimental box’ on my to-do list for a while now, and haven’t had a moment where I felt like doing it. What does that tell you!

    For me the Wednesday task blends into Thursday a bit. As in, most people have xyz keepsake, I should keep this. Except really I should just accept that some horrible things happened when I was growing up, and so I shouldn’t be trying to be ‘normal’ and keep things as reminders of a lovely normal childhood, when that wasn’t the case anyway. A box of items lurking in the bottom of the closet, randomly triggering complex emotions is not a good thing.

    As usual, now I’ve said it, it seems obvious!

    • Amelia – get rid of anything that makes you feel negative!

      • Thanks Moni – sometimes I just need reminding!

        • Amelia,
          I second Moni’s comment. You deserve better!

        • Hi Amelia, I like your comment “What does that tell you.” One would think that having these things on display rather than meaningless art work or fancy china that never gets used would make more sense than hiding them away somewhere. So why do we leave these things in the bottom or top of a closet in a box?

          As for your keepsakes that give negative reminders, as Moni said, get rid of those. Sadly sometimes the keepsakes that should bring happy thoughts also conjure up the sad thoughts of what should or could have been under better circumstances. I suffer from depression, no real reason because I’ve had a good life, but I find that when things upset me I perpetuate those negative feeling with the inner dialogue of justifying my own disappointment. Forgiving and letting it go is a much greater challenge but is what we need to do. None of us a perfect after all.

          • Emboldened by everyone’s comments yesterday, I confronted my keepsakes, and ended up with one and a half shoeboxes of items to be ceremoniously destroyed. It was one heck of a challenge diving in to the triggers for so many memories ranging from anger through to bittersweet. Although funnily enough I found a few lovely things that were somehow buried in with the rest, that truly spark joy and I am glad to have unearthed them again.

            As you said Colleen, forgiving and letting it go is quite the challenge. In so many ways. (I would get lost in my words trying to unravel it all here). I am happy to have now released the responsibility I gave myself of preserving all those negative keepsakes and memories. And I am very thankful to all of you for your support.

    • Amelia I think you know what you need to do with those. You could keep the happy memory things, and let the rest go. I recommend not actually opening the boxes, but give yourself a little farewell ceremony for them, then either set fire to them, or place them in the bin on garbage collection day.

      • Amelia & Stephanie – I agree with Stephanie. I have done the whole throw something into a fire ceremony and it is actually quite liberating.

      • I really like this idea, holding a little farewell ceremony, and then mentally I can draw the line and say that’s enough of all of that.

        I must have a little inner pyromaniac as a part of me had a definite ‘teeheehee’ moment at the idea of setting these things alight.

        • Amelia – it is particularly effective if you get a bunch of friends and everyone hiffs something into the fire, also some ‘beverages’ will also help the ceremonial atmosphere.

          • Nice idea! Although, an episode of Friends taught me that the beverages are best consumed, not tossed into the fire as well, lol

        • LOL, Amelia. I don’t know what kind of music your inner pyromaniac will like, but here are a few suggestions if you want to add some fire-themed music to the mix:
          Burn it down: Linkin Park
          Set fire to the rain: Adele
          Fire: Bruce Springsteen
          We didn’t start the fire: Billy Joel
          Great balls of fire: Johnny Lee Lewis
          Blaze of glory: Bon Jovi
          Fire and rain: James Taylor
          The unforgettable fire: U2

  2. Ooh, a good idea for Thursday – the knife block! When did these become some sort of status symbol anyway?

  3. I ‘ll start thinking about what I can declutter during the week. Today I finally tackled my roll top desk and let go of a lot. At least, now when you open the drawers, the items inside are visible. I saw an acronym that helped me to let go- SABLE – “stuff accumulated beyond life expectancy”

    Then my DH Asked me if I was sure I didn’t need the box of staples in my donation pile!

  4. I heard a story the other day about someone who had a very bad case of sunburn . It seems they used sunscreen , but because it was out of date it made the sunburn far worse. So I have removed two out of date sunscreen products from the bathroom this morning.
    The pencil case my daughter de cluttered last week along with some surplus drinking glasses and plates need to exit the house.
    I could possibly part with two hula girls whose skirts are falling out .
    I best go and get a box to put all these items into.

  5. Idgy of the North

    Monday/ Thursday – canning supplies including pot, tools, jars, lids and labels. I like the idea of canning more than I actually like canning as I reminded myself this weekend while canning applesauce. I like make applesauce, but can just make it day we want to have it.

    Also have a unique silver tea set that a family member gave us. Has not once been out of the box in a decade. Any ideas of how to get rid of the tea set? It’s very pretty but definitely not our style nor do I want to have polish it.

    Tuesday – a “Krazy Karpet” used for sliding down snowy hills. We have 2 sliding discs that the kids like/use more.

    Wednesday – can’t think of anything

    Friday – will go through the gift wrap supplies again. It went from 117L box to 12 L storage bin so moving in right direction.

    • Well done Idgy. I have to say you did remind me, with Wednesday’s item, how much fun it is to play in the snow. I remember one time when we had visitors in the US and we had a snow day. The male friend and I went up to the closest school and went sledding. All the other younger parents were there to supervise their even younger kids while Phil and I, in our forties, had a great time sledding with the kids. My husband and his wife stayed at home like proper grown up. How boring are they.

      • Idgy of the North

        Sliding/to bagging is a lot of fun for adults, too. Glad you had fun doing it.

        I did find several more items to declutter today. One their way out are two cookbooks aimed at families with young children, some extra cello tape (we had 4 unused ones in our gift wrapping box) and some toys from when the kids were younger. All in all a good day.

      • LOL, Colleen … good for you! Why should there be any age limit for fun? I won’t be surprised if there were at least a couple of kids there who wished that their parents would have done the same.

  6. Hmmm……I may not have anything for some of these. Gift wrap, we have none left and cards, I have one that I have held onto as I have a wedding to go to next month which it will be perfect for, after that I’m sticking with vouchers and gift bags. I do have an idea for sporting gear – we have a snow board left that I haven’t been able to sell as my son took the bindings off but lost the screws. I will list it where is, as is, for a discounted price. The fixings can be bought locally but my husband just hasn’t gotten around to it for 2-3 years.

    • Hi Moni, doesn’t it feel nice to not have items for some of the mini missions. Good luck getting rid of that snowboard.

      • Colleen – I’ve had a great week getting rid of things. I didn’t quite complete the ‘when the cats away’ list but I do feel pleased with progress. Yes the snow board went last night, the buyer was very happy with the discounted price. I’m willing to bet my husband doesn’t even notice what is missing.

        • Good for you Moni. It always feels good when you have a nice declutter and or reorganise. I could do with a reorganise in my craft area at them moment. I must get on to that.

  7. Monday – an indoor plant that I have been trying to keep alive, without great success.
    Tuesday – a pair of half kilo hand weights that belonged to my mother. I don’t think she ever used them either.
    Wednesday – I don’t have any of those, except my wedding dress. Which needs soaking in stain remover before it can be moved on. I am well past ready to let it go, and annoyed that the professional cleaning and storage box did nothing to prevent the age/skin stains.
    Thursday – I don’t really have anything for this one, but have actually decluttered my Desire To Own a fancy coffee machine like all my friends.
    Friday – The Tupperware mountain is on my radar for this one.
    Saturday – This is an ongoing one for me, as well as a use-it-up mission for hair/body products.

    • Stephanie – plant! That is a good idea, I have three of those that I seem to be killing, so I will give them away!

    • Fantastic idea Stephanie, decluttering a Desire To Own 🙂

    • Stephanie,
      I could have written your list! Thanks for all of your ideas. About that fancy coffee machine. I also have one and have been contemplating getting rid of it for some time now.

      I have been on a “use it up” mission for beauty products all of this year. Love when I finish it up and recycle the container.

    • Hi Stephanie, my mother has owned several fancy coffee machines. That fact that she has gotten through several of them goes to show they don’t last. And given the prices they ask for them it makes for expensive cups of coffee. I have a cheap pod machine. I hate the plastic generated by the pods but it is nice to be able to make a nice cup of coffee at home.

    • I have a cheap pod machine, but I use the empty basket & fill with coffee. I have the convenience of the pod without the waste. I’ve used the same machine for 3 years & hope to get another 3 years of use.

      I’m not trying to sell you on a fancy machine, I think desiring less is a definite plus!
      Good on you Stephanie!

  8. Hi, Colleen. I’ll be going through the everyday stuff that we have … should be able to find some that can go.

  9. Ok todays update, today a set of shelves at work left. My son came over to take away the PS3, I asked him about a set of gaming headphones and he said they didnt work so out they go. My daughter’s ankle weights from dancing can go.

    Just going off topic here, where do you all stand on picnic baskets?

    • Idgy of the North

      Ahh picnic baskets…I like the idea of them, but never used the ones we owned. They were decluttered very early on. We found it easier to put everything in a small cooler or a backpack. If you use your picnic basket several times a year and don’t dislike them, then keep it. If you don’t remember the last time you used it, then release it so someone else can enjoy it. There are a lot of multiuse options out there.

    • Well done Moni. Has your son moved out again. I don’t always get the chance to read and respond to all the comments these days so I may have missed that memo.
      As be picnic baskets, I have never owned one. If you went on picnics all the time they make sense. And I would rather have a some items to take on a picnic rather than buying plastic throw away stuff every time. As it is is don’t go on picnics all the often.

    • Moni, I love the idea of picnic baskets, but I never owned one and it is in fact too impractical for me. I do go on picnics in the warmer season, but usually I go there by bicyle and so a normal picnic basket is just not transportable. There are special bike varieties or picnic rucksacks though, so that would be an option for someday. That said, I do very well with just packing some ordinary crockery in an ordinary bag or rucksack now…

  10. Monday – Declutter something you don’t care to maintain: Today, my husband dismantled the “Midnight Garden” for me! So now I only have 2 garden areas to maintain instead of the 4 I had last year (he previously dismantled the tomato garden for me). I am so happy! Maybe now I can do a better job on the remaining areas 🙂

  11. Tuesday – Declutter some sort of sporting equipment that you no longer enjoy to use. I don’t really have any of this (too clutzy). So I did double of Fridays mission 🙂

    Wednesday – Declutter keepsakes that you never bother to look at. Hmmm… not ready to look at this. I went through my “desktop” instead and tossed a bunch of stuff, then filed some.

    Thursday – Declutter something you keep just because most people have one. I don’t think I have any of this, except carpeting. I want to declutter it but my husband doesn’t 🙁

    Friday – Declutter everyday stuff that you have way too much off. I put a few brand new lipsticks and socks into the giveaway bag 🙂

    Saturday – Start a use-it-up mission on excess gift wrap and cards that have been lingering for a while. I got rid of more than half of this type stuff awhile ago. But the other day I organized some craft ribbon my youngest daughter brought home. It filled 3 totes! I put hooks up to keep everything out of the little critters hands LOL. Got rid of empty ribbon spools while I was at it 🙂

  12. I’ve struggled a bit this week with decluttering to the mini missions. You all have done very well.
    I’m continuing to use up things in my pantry that I no longer care to cook with. This is fun for me as I like to cook.
    I have conquered the freezer. After the storms in April and we were without power for 6 days, I decided not to turn the upright freezer back on in the garage. We haven’t missed it. I only buy enough things for the fortnight now and they fit well the freezer section of the fridge.

    • Hi Mich, no need to struggle over the mini missions. The intention of them is to prompt my readers into ideas of things to declutter when perhaps they have nothing else in mind to let go. I don’t usually follow them myself so don’t feel obliged to. I am glad you can declutter independently and especially that pantry of yours. Keep using that stuff up and your pantry will be better for it. And I dare say you are probably making good electricity savings on not running that second freezer.

  13. Mon-don’t care to maintain-very large stack of recipes I have printed out as I’ve collected new recipes for our new way of eating (for 4 years now). My stack is big enough that I don’t go through it looking for a recipe…instead I just prop my iPad up on my countertop because I have all my current recipes saved in the Pages app. To actually maintain my printed stack I would have to keep them filed alphabetically. Not!

    Tuesday – sporting equipment that you no longer enjoy to use-I have a thought on this (bicycle) but I’m not ready yet. My baton is already gone…even my mandolin is gone. Maybe a reason to give my bicycle will come along???

    Wed-keepsakes that you never bother to look at-pictures-I haven’t really jumped into this yet, but I found one whole drawer of printed pics that I didn’t remember I had…a good place to start. When my mom died, my brother did the most wonderful thing. He took Mother’s pics, scanned them all in, made CD’s for all of us. A huge effort but I think it was healing for him. He also included a tribute to his twin, my other brother…he dedicated it to him…still makes me cry. Now he is gone too…only me…but I have nieces and nephews and cousins…so thankful.

    BTW, I’ve read a lot of info on decluttering pictures on the 365 archives. Otherwise I’m not sure I would have realized that it’s ok at times to destroy pictures :))

    Thurs-something you keep just because most people have one-I changed this one to a gift that I didn’t like, want, need, etc: a fancy glass wine stopper (initialed). It’s taken me a number of years to let it go because it was a gift. Happy that it’s in my thrift shop box. (I prefer plain utilitarian wine stoppers.)

    Fri-everyday stuff that you have too much of-1 spoon rest…I have 3…I use both the other two

    Sat-use-it-up mission on excess gift wrap and cards-I already did this the last couple of years…a good thing…I’m not good at using it up. When I’m done, I’m done…I gave it away.