Mini Mission Monday ~ Declutter the easy stuff first

Mini 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.

Hi everyone, happy new year to you all. Welcome to any new readers who has found their way here because they have made a resolution to get decluttered this year. When it comes to getting started on a decluttering mission the key to success is to begin with the easy stuff. Easy stuff to part with and easy stuff to find new homes for or dispose of. For those who have been decluttering for a while what started out seeming hard has usually by now become the easy stuff. So for the missions this week the theme is simplicity.

Monday – Declutter an item of clothing that no longer fits, you no longer like or you bought for a special occasion years ago and is now out of fashion.

Tuesday – Declutter a gadget that you no longer use. Maybe something from the kitchen that you thought would make food preparation easier but fell short of your expectations.

Wednesday – Declutter something that you have way to many of than you really need. This could be cutlery, crockery, glassware, craft supplies, stationery items etc.

Thursday – Declutter a pair of shoes that you no longer wear. Perhaps ones that are pretty but a torture to wear. Ones that are old favourites but are really so shabby you never, or shouldn’t, choose to wear them anymore. Or maybe a pair that are so ugly you wonder why you ever bought them in the first place.

Friday – Declutter something that your children or grandchildren have grown out of. This could be clothes, toys, shoes, eating utensils, books, games etc.

Who loves to dust? Not me!

Who loves to dust? Not me!

Saturday – Declutter some trinkets that you don’t care much about, that are just collecting dust and causing you unnecessary work. This was one of my priorities when I first began decluttering. I wanted my home to be easier to maintain and one of the most arduous tasks is dusting nicknacks.

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

Eco Tip for the Day

Don’t accept free promotional products that you have no use for. Accepting these just encourages the continuation of this practice while the environment would be healthier without the manufacture of cheap throwaway or needless items like these usually are.

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About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. Welcome back Colleen. Have missed our daily talks but am glad you had some time off. I like the new look and all that Steve has done.

  2. Happy New Year to you too!
    Your Eco-tip today really resonates with me. I recently stopped accepting the freebies that come along with purchases, but it’s so hard sometimes! We’re so conditioned to be excited about getting free gifts that it’s inconceivable for most of us to leave a promotional item behind. It feels like leaving money on the table! Of course, these items are usually junk and end up collecting dust in the back of a drawer somewhere. Thanks for the reminder.

    • Hi Kimberly and a happy New Year to you to.
      I know what you are saying, turning down something free is a challenge ~ at least to begin with. Now I simply look at what is being offered, assess how worthless it is to me and its impact on the environment and usually have no problems walking away ~ sometimes in disgust. I get enough free coffees using loyalty cards to make up for any other junk I don’t really want. I saw, on the Google Play yesterday, an ap that replaces loyalty cards. I am going to have to check with the cafes I use to see if they support this ap. Less cards in my wallet and less wasted cardboard would be a good thing for sure.

  3. Glad to have you back. I hope you had a wonderful holiday season with your family. I love the new look of the site. The eco tip of the day really hits home. My husband works in the food industry and every year we go to the national restaurant association food show for ideas. I always come home with freebies, mostly cloth bags. Since I have been following your site I’ve realized I don’t need 30 cloth bags. Last year I came home with one. I have used it a lot and don’t miss all the extra ones at all. Thanks again

    • Hi colleen, as Kimberly said above, it is hard to resist accepting something for free. So often we feel ripped of or duped into spending our hard earned money on things that turn out to be a disappointment that when someone is offering something for nothing it is hard to say no. On closer inspection the free something is usually nothing we need or really want.

      Well done you learning to turn down the offering at the food show. Mind you, free food samples are a free treat that I rarely walk away from.

    • Hi, “Other Colleen”, I have been accepting the giveaway bags – I pass them on to other shoppers if they want them – especially at the start of the university year, when a lot of the students will accept and reuse them (save more plastic rubbish, I figure).

  4. Welcome back! I missed you – and the bunch!
    Decluttering on my own (which I did over the holidays as I had some days home alone and there are still a ton of things I want to get done/decluttered before the little one will shake up our lives in a couple of weeks): Well, it’s possible – but it’s certainly not the same! I’m so glad to have the nagging/cheerleading crowd back 🙂
    I wish a good and successful (and relaxed and healthy) 2013 to all of us here.

    • Hi Ideealistin, my goodness your baby is due so soon. How time flies and how exciting for you. I just became a great-aunt for the third time a week ago and what a cute little bundle she is.

      I wish you success with the last minute decluttering/organising. The more ready you are the more relaxed you can be to tackle motherhood. And relaxed is the only way to go.

    • Hey Ideealistin, happy new year to you too, you will get the most precious gift soon. I wish you all the best. and yeah, its good to have the crowd back, I need a serious kick, because I have been getting more stuff in lately than out… I need you guys. for a new year and a new start.

  5. Hi Colleen!!! Welcome back! It is good to be with everyone again. I have made some progress over the holiday and I was anxious to share with with you. I decluttered with my husband 44 pieces of clothing. And 3 glasses. I am very smug with myself 😀 . I wish the very best for all of us in 2013.

    • Good for you Andréia and well done getting your husband in on the task. I am glad you are feeling smug about it as that feeling will inspire you to continue on joyfully decluttering.
      I wish you all the best for 2013 also.

  6. I like the new look. Very classy and pretty.

  7. Welcome back! Over the last two weeks I have managed to get the kids involved with letting go of some books and games that are not being used anymore and a few more holiday decorations did not make it back into the boxes. Instead they will be heading out the door. Mostly I took a break from the declutering process and it gave me time to think on some things. As a result I will be sending some more things out the door this week. I am excited for the decluttering prospects for the new year!

    • Hi Jen, it is nice to have you back to chat with us and share your successes again this year. I am pleased also that you took a break over the holiday season but spent a little time assessing some things and are now ready to declutter them. The thing I most need to declutter now that the break is over is the 4lb I gained due to all the Christmas cheer. That won’t be a problem though, all I have to do is go back to my usual eating behaviours with a whole lot less treats. It is just another form of decluttering really and I will achieve it in no time.

      • We all need to indulge on occasion and the holidays are a perfect time for that. It sounds like you know exactly what you need to do to get back where you want to be, though. It is strange, isn’t it, how decluttering can come in many forms? Sometimes, once you tackle one area, the others come to light easily and do not have dominion over us like before.

        • One does have to vigilant though. I have to say my resistance to stuff is much stronger than my resistance to food. You wouldn’t know that from looking at me but it is true. After being so naughty over Christmas I have to deploy some very heavy resistance especially if I get board. The trick is to stay occupied.

      • lol Colleen, you are not alone… I am also hoping that my normal lifestyle will lead to the weight I had before december again. there is nothing better than to declutter those extra kilos.

  8. Meant to say, great new photo Colleen. Your hair looks amazing! Hope you had a great time in Melb. My husband ALWAYS brings home the mini bottles of product in his hotel bathroom, and every pen he lays his hands on. I’ve been using up all the shampoos, etc and I’m doing my best to at least corral the pens in one spot (and how come I can still NEVER find one when I want it??!!)

    On another note, have had family staying for the last month, and while it’s been wonderful, I’m looking forward to doing my regular holiday declutter: going through every room in the house and being ruthless!

    • Thanks Loretta, I was having a particularly good hair day which is why I laboured so hard over taking a photo of myself. It was quite a production trying to hold the cell phone out far enough to get a good shot without straining my face. It took about twenty attempts to get it right, changing angles and facial expressions and finally removing my glasses. With a photo major in the family and thousands of dollars worth of camera gear in the house you would think I could time my good hair days for when he was around to help. 😆

      We had a good time in Melbourne and although the motel had a nice selection of toiletries and the pen wrote very nicely I resisted to temptation to bring any of it home.

      There is always at least one pen on my husbands desk upstairs and there is a small drawer dedicated to pens in my spice chest off from the kitchen. So I never have a problem finding one. You just need to dedicate a couple of places for them and be disciplined about putting them back. Of course the requires training the rest of the family as well.

      Glad you mentioned the post holiday declutter. Next week once our guest is living on base and Steve is back at work I think I will finally do an actual declutter sweep through our house. In three years I have never done this as I have been happily randomly decluttering all this time. Now that I feel pretty much done I think it is time for a proper sweep through. I wonder how much more stuff I will find.

    • Hi Loretta! My husband went to a work related trip and brought a 100 pens back home (yes, I did write right, 100, a hundred) and I kind if freaked out. He said I should calm down because he only brought them to give to his coleagues. I told him to take them out of the house or I would trash them (they stayed a month in his desk). He was very reluctant to take those pens, so I guess he meant that they were already at ” home”. But he took them and I said no more ” freebies” . 😀

  9. Welcome back Colleen! Love the new website design/layout/colors – nice improvement!
    Hope you & yours had a nice holday season & hope everyone here at 365LT also had a nice holiday too!
    It’s a new year & I’m about as busy as I can be with gusts of even more busy in the forecast – but it’s all for the greater good!
    Anyways, glad you are back & again, love the new website design!

    • Thank you Jane, welcome back and happy New Year to you too. I hope you holiday season was special and you are ready and raring to go with your plans for 2013. I wish you success in all your endeavours and especially the you just enjoy the process.

  10. Welcome back, Colleen! I hope you enjoyed your break from us, and are ready to “keep us charged” for another year. I have been “half following” for quite some time – a fire in my kitchen and lounge and the resulting damage kept us out of the house and in a motel for four months in 2012, and replacing items, and sorting items, took up most of my remaining year. It was, however, a forced opportunity not to replace the unnecessary from the kitchen, and to avoid plastic (wasteful stuff, poisonous stuff, and oh, so toxic when it burns!!!) with wood, stainless steel or cloth.
    So now I am “back” (except in and out for summer holidays just now), and will take more part in discussions again this year. Have a happy year, to you and your family.

    • Hi Ann and welcome back and a happy new year to you also. I am looking forward to hearing more about the lessons you have learned through your probortunity. I am excited at the thought of your kitchen minus plastic.

  11. Welcome to 2013. Love the new look website.
    I Managed to avoid pre Christmas shopping madness and post Christmas sales, by staying away from the local Westfield shopping centre.
    There was a couple of comments about me getting rid of the large dining table that would have comfortably accommodated the eight of us for Christmas dinner, but a large foldaway picnic table came to the rescue.
    This year we exchanged gifts late on Chritsmas Eve, I wish we had done this years ago instead of waiting until Christmas morning.
    Looking forward to a great year here at 365 less things.

    • Hi Wendy, happy new year to you my friend. We will have to do coffee soon.
      I had reason to go the Westfield just to do grocery shopping and even that was a pain. It was nice to rock up there yesterday, for the usual Sunday coffee and grocery shop, to find no shortage of car parks.

      I fell short for a couple of things for the holiday dining too. It turned out that I had either decluttered my nut cracker or it has broken and I hadn’t replaced it. I also made Steve an ice-cream cake for his birthday (his favourite) and required a spring form pan which I no longer owned. Also something that I think I got rid of years ago. No worries though, my neighbour was happy to loan me both. I must take her and her husband to dinner at the club one night to thank them for all their help over the year.

  12. Love this site. I’m actually becoming slightly claustrophobic as i observe all my “stuff” that i’ve accumulated over the years. Made quite a dent this new yrs weekend and my husband actually participated by taking a car load of stuff over to Goodwill. Big stuff that had been floating around our current smaller home for two years. Xmas stuff, oh my! That went too. No more scuttling like a crab into the crawlspace for bins and bins. What I have left of xmas fit in the holes in my closet. Tree, nativity, mantel decorations, that’s it. Working on spare bedroom which is all more STUFF. I would like to be able to fit our inflatable bed in there one day for someone who really wants to visit, but we have no place for her to sleep. Wish me luck!

    • I do wish you luck NF and am sure you will achieve your objectives. One thing at a time is all it takes to reach your goals in the end. Enjoy the process by rejoicing every thing that heads out the door. Having your husband on board with the process is great too. I look forward to hearing about your future successes so please drop in regularly to share where you are up to.

  13. Oh, and i immediately donated any xmas gifts that we did not like and could not return. I felt very guilty at first, but then i realized i did not have to deal with more floating stuff. I recovered quickly.

    • Good for you NF. Too often we feel obliged to keep things simply because someone else gave them to us but if we have no need or love of the items then they can just become a drag and I am sure the giver would not wish that on us. I am glad your recovered quickly.

  14. Hau’oli Makahiki Hou (Happy New Year) from Hawaii! Your new website is beautiful. You and your husband make a great team 🙂

    • Hi Kimberley,
      thank you for that lovely happy New Year message and the same to you. I think it is fair to say that my husband and I make a great team since we have been married for almost 26 years now.

  15. Hi everyone – I’m back too – have been meaning all day to put up a comment but first day back at work and have been swamped. Looking forward to the year ahead!

    • Hi Moni and welcome back. No one has gone back to work here yet so although I am back at the helm of 365 Less Things there is still a holiday atmosphere lingering in our house.

  16. Happy New Year Colleen! I, too, love the new website – it looks gorgeous. Your husband has done a fantastic job!

    I’ve lurked for most of last year – but decided that this year, I’m going to jump in boots and all!

    So many people give me useless gifts (apparently I’m hard to buy for!). So this year, I’m requesting donations for OxFam.

    • Hi Tasha, thank you, I am very happy with the web site too. If you look really closely you will see that there are gum leaves and flowers in the title band. That is my favourite part. I love the bright pink flowers and leaves of this type of eucalyptus plant.

      I am glad you have come out of the shadows to join us in conversation. I look forward to hearing more from you.

      Join the club, I am sure I am hard to buy for too. I want for very little but when I do want something I tend to have exact ideas about what that is. Luckily I have convinced most everyone I know not to buy for me. I love that you are requesting people give donations to OxFam rather than give you gifts. What a lovely thing to do.

  17. So good to see you back here and I love the new look of your blog! This week’s mini missions are great and just right for jumping back into the decluttering. I gave away quite a few Christmas decorations early in December and loved how easy it was to put everything away this week. It all fitted in the boxes with room to spare, and I was in such a good mood about it! It was also great when my dad came to visit for the holidays and the guest room was ready with empty drawers and space in the closet for his things. In the past I have had to spend a good long time moving piles of stuff out of the closet so that it can be used by visitors.

    • Hi Christine, thank you for joining us again. It is good to see so many familiar readers are still with me. I loved my decluttered Christmas as well. It took me about half and hour to my decorations away.
      Unfortunately even with empty drawers and plenty of closet space in my guest room there still wasn’t enough space to house all the stuff my daughter and her boyfriend landed on the doorstep with. Never mind, once the men are back at work we will get things in order.

  18. hello all and a happy new 2013. I dont know how about you guys, but I wish for a calm and quiet year. I had enough stress in every dimension and I could be very content with a boring 2013. steady progress of decluttering included of course.

    I have to say I did not declutter a lot in the last couple of months, because there was no obvious clutter, and I have been busy going out a lot. but my party time is over now and I have to find my way into the real world now… I got serious and made a start by renting a shelf in the fleamarket shop, I filled it up before christmas, and I will call today if I sold anything and if I can refill it again.

    My new years resolution, (besides losing the 2 christmas kilos), is to follow the mini missions. I can identify the first weeks items quickly, mostly because of replacement. I have been finally shopping for clothes: I did take advantage of the post christmas sales, and got only bargains – for things I needed badly. feels really cool. I can replace the old and worn pieces – I guess I can do that for the next weeks, because it feels as if I had doubled the amount of clothes. a new pair of leather boots will replace the old ones. same with kitchen stuff, like pots and glasses, a new beautiful tea pot will replace the old one. monday, tuesday, thursday and also friday (its my own childhood game that I will get rid of) are safe already so far. uh, I am excited again. new year, new start.

  19. The donation truck arrived and took 2 large bags and a box from my house yesterday morning along with 4 boxes and other sundry items from a neighbor. We tried to send off the old microwave (the kids gave us a new one for Christmas) but they didn’t take it. My husband is putting it by the curb today and I’m sure it will go quickly.
    I love the eco mission today. My company gives away “goodies” at company events/shows. Whenever I attend a show, I have been picking up pens and bringing them home but have started bringing into the office anything that has my company name on it and putting it in the “show boxes”. That way, they will be used or given away, just not cluttering up my house. Can’t believe how many pens and pencils I am finding. Every drawer has one or two and some have even more than that. Guess I am a closet hoarder of pens. Anyway, I am putting them in a box and plan to drop them at one of the schools in the area. There’s always a child who forgot their pencil.
    Happy New Year Everyone. Look forward to our ongoing conversations and sharing of ideas.

    • Hi Maggie, well done you. The charity I work for don’t accept microwaves either. Just another one of those cases where everyone suffers for the stupidity of others. I dare say some fools in the past caused harm to an innocent person by tampering with their microwave before donating it which set a precedence for not accepting them in the future. I hope yours disappears from the curb to someone who needs it.

      Donating your pens and pencils to a school is a good more. I have done this in the past myself. As you say there is aways some child who has forgotten theirs and by donating some spares you save the school one small expense they can do without.

  20. Hello!

    I’m a relatively new reader of your site (about three weeks) but I’ve found it very useful. I just spent a weekend decluttering with lots of large bags going to the charity shop and recycling. My housemate is going to be really pleased at how clean and tidy the place is when she comes home from holiday!

    I love the colours and typeface of the new site. Could I request the tag cloud is returned though? It was very useful for finding posts on particular topics e.g. presents. The archive is only by date so it can’t help much that way, and the search didn’t work as well as I hoped. Also, there’s an awful lot of white space between boxes, paragraphs and comments; maybe if that was lessened there would be more text on the page, requiring less scrolling while reading! It’s definitely pretty though – thumbs up 🙂

    Katie (London, UK)

    • Hi Cakey and welcome to 365 Less Things. I am excited for both you and your room mate, especially if she is a neat freak. Well done you.

      I love the new look too. My husband worked hard on that while he has been on his Christmas break and before hand. As for the tag clould I have always found the search bar infinitely more useful because you can really refine the subject you are looking for. What is it that you find lacking with it. Please let me know because I am always open to the idea of bringing the tag cloud back.

      • Hi Colleen,

        Sorry for the slow reply! My room mate isn’t a neat freak, but I hope to make her one. It’s ME that gets antsy with too many things lying around 🙂 I just gave a lot of items from that clearout to a friend, which I’m sure you’ve done plenty times too. She was very pleased with the books and pretty boxes. Back to the search bar: I couldn’t remember what I didn’t like, and so I tried again. I put “presents” in the search box as a test but it just wouldn’t search (either by clicking the magnifying glass symbol or hitting the enter button). I’m using Firefox as a web browser; is it that, maybe? I’m sure your tech-whiz man can sort it!

        Katie 🙂

        • Hi Cakey,
          lets hope your good example rubs off on your room mate over time. Don’t expect miracles my example has never rubbed off on my daughter in fact quite the opposite I think.

          As you have noticed hubby put the tag cloud back for you. He was happy to oblige. There is plenty of room in the right margin after all. As for the problem you had with the search bar ~ I also found that the arrow cursor didn’t appear so I couldn’t click on the magnifying glass but hitting enter did work for me. I am glad you brought these issues to our attention. You help in ironing out the kinks in the new design is much appreciated. I will get him to look into that.

      • Oh, I just saw you put the tags back! Thank you! 🙂

  21. I just found your site tonight and feel like I have found my soulmates. I am a firm believer in getting rid of the unnecessary. This weekend, I reclaimed a large corner of my kitchen counter space and my husband has recently accepted that almost nothing makes me happier than letting me throw things away, or recycle, donate to Goodwill, etc. 🙂 Just get that stuff out of my house!!!

    • Hi csamom and welcome to 365 Less Things. We are certainly a community of like minded people here, all at different stages of course but all with similar goals. I hope that you will feel at home here and that we can encourage you to reach you declutter goals. All in good time of course.