Mini Mission Monday ~ Digitise

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.

This week we are going to declutter some items that we could digitise rather than keep the tangible form of. This should free up some space without actually getting rid of the item altogether.

Monday – Declutter some household appliance manuals. Choose a couple and google the item to see if there is a copy of the manual on line. If so throw away the paper copy.

Tuesday – If you have a file of paper bank statements declutter some, if not all, of them today. All of this information can be accessed by online banking. Set yours up and begin getting rid of all that redundant paperwork. It is so unlikely that you will ever need any of it, digital or tangible, so stop hoarding it in your filing cabinet. Before you know it you may find you can declutter the filing cabinet as well.

Wednesday – Digitise receipts for things you either need for insurance or warranty purposes. Chances are you will also never need them in either in digital or original form. Check with your insurance company if it makes you feel better about decluttering them.

Thursday – Digitise some keepsake items by either scanning or taking a digital photo of them and saving it to your computer, or better still a cloud. Items that you rarely or never look at should be easier to convince yourself to let go of, so begin with a couple of them.

Friday – If you have any bills that could be switched to online billing do that today. This will reduce the paperwork coming into your home and also cuts down on paper waste and transportation which is good for the environment.

Saturday – If you still have a home phone take some time today to consider switching to purely cellular. Why have extra big clunking phones taking up electricity and valuable space in your home when smaller more versatile cellular phones can more than suffice. (This isn’t really a digital tip but close enough)

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

Save electricity by not turning on electrical appliances, like irons, hair straighteners etc, too long before you use them and by not leaving them on while you decide to take a break during the task.

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. Colleen, these are great ideas. I am trying to get as much digitised as possible. It’s slow going at times but it will be worth it in the end.

  2. I have actually got these mini missions under control, however I do need to follow up getting the whole family’s electoral registrations changed from paper to login, ironically it seemed to have a lot of paperwork involved. I will wade thru that with each family member this week.

    I will also continue with the upstairs storage room, I had people coming to look at pieces of furniture I have listed on trademe, so fingers crossed those sell this week.

    Im trying to aim for one thing, at least per day and appealing to my analytical side by keeping records, and doing ‘advance’ enquiries of some places that may be interested in items.

    • Good for you Moni. Both with the digital and your progress with the storage room. You efforts have inspired me to get off my bum right now and choose a wad a paper from my craft supplies to declutter. Perhaps this week I will focus on decluttering something every day from that area. It does still overwhelm me at times but like you it isn’t because it is getting worse it is just that I want it to be less.

      • I figure 30 things in 30 days is an oldie but a good challenge.

        There are some things which are earmarked to go need to wait until it is the right season to get the best price or even generate the interest on trademe, but it would be nice to clear as much as possible.

        My plan is to clear as much ‘lower fruit’ during this challenge and then look at what is left over in a more analytical manner.

        The other thing that I would like to see an end of is all the clear plastic storage bins. Yes they have their place but the P in plastic is also P for permanent. They seem to stay hanging around even when they’re empty. I try to utilise cardboard banana boxes when I need to organise something temporary, because the box can be broken down and put in the recycling bin or given to someone looking for them on the local Facebook page ie for shifting house. So I will have a secondary goal to gather those up.

        • Hi Moni, you are sounding very positive. Good for you. I think your challenge in very doable. After reading your first comment this morning I go in a set aside for decluttering about 20 pages of scrapbook paper. Going through that made it obvious what papers I have and like but don’t seem to be making much inroads into. Metallics especially. I will now base any upcoming card making on using up some of those supplies. I also followed my mission on manuals. Even though in the past I only keep what we have still got the appliance for, it is time I digitised what is left. Even little bit of space in precious, especially in a two bedroom apartment. Onwards and upwards to us both.

          • Colleen – good idea for the metalics, maybe prepare a Xmas line ready for October? I was going to suggest a Matariki line, but wrong country and already passed.

            I just had a LOL moment. I have hung on for years to a course set that I attended when I worked for a District Council once upon a time. I found it very inspiring. I have pulled it out and had a flick thru the personal evaluation, goal and aspirations section. It kind of made me feel a bit down because not a lot has changed or been achieved from my list – EXCEPT “survive this wedding business” – yes this must date back to 23 years ago. I have decided that I’d rather watch a TedX video on Youtube. As I was rummaging thru the pack I came across another pack within the pack, and yes there are cassettes! I don’t even own a cassette player. I can assume that this is my aspirational clutter.

          • Wow Moni, that is funny. And you have read Marie Kondo’s book. She has a whole amusing (well to me anyway) paragraph on course papers. It is a wonder you didn’t find it then and recycle it.

  3. Most of these I’m good on, other than the utility that won’t let me use a credit card to pay, so I have to get a paper statement to pay with a check. If electronic payment is so awesome for them, they can let me pay my preferred electronic method that has more protections for me when their system gets hacked! A few months ago we decluttered 20ish years of old financial records. Shredded and mixed with coffee grounds they made very good mulch!

    The one I disagree with is going cell only. My landline always works (no battery), 911 gets an accurate location, it’s easier to teach the kid emergency calling, and I can have handsets throughout the house–without carrying the cell around. Not always being beholden to holding the cell phone makes it much easier to pay attention to the rest of my life! have a handset in the basement in case I fall. (It is, in fact, right at the base of the steps on the floor because I decluttered the shelf it used to sit on. :)) It gets dropped on a charge station with my purse when I come in, and it stays there until I next leave the house. I Easier to sleep with the cell not being tempting in the bedroom, but with a landline I can still get calls and make calls if needed (which is hopefully never!)

    • Hi Kayote, if your phone handsets can be moved all over the house and put on a charge station then it most certainly does have a battery. But if it makes you feel more secure then keep it. I don’t find it a nuisance to fetch my phone when it rings and if I miss the call my phone will identify who it is and I can just phone them back. No problem. If I am expecting a call I will just carry it around with me. I used to have a landline phone but gave it up a long time back. The only issue I had was my parents and in-laws being concerned about it costing them more to call me. I just told them to text me and I would phone them back so the cost would all be on me. I have a larger plan than them but I also don’t have the expense of a landline and we have naked broadband for the internet.

      • The cell gets dropped on a charge station and left there when I come home. I was ambiguous there, sorry. Some of the landlines do have batteries–we have some cordless. But some don’t, specifically. My cell plan is fairly cheap; if I were to use it for phone calls I’d have to up it considerably, which would wipe out the savings for dropping the landline. We did digitize in one way–we do our long distance calling through google voice (which connects to our home line), so we don’t have that cost.

        • When we first returned to Australia the cost of cell phone plans was outrageous so the thought of getting rid of the home phone was not for consideration. Luckily phone plans here have gotten far more reasonable over time. As a result we made considerable saving by bundling all our phone/online needs into one deal. With that we could even up the plan on my husbands cell phone and still come out better off. With two cell phones in the home we most certainly don’t have need for a land line anymore.

  4. Planning ahead for our summer in temporary quarters, I brought along a lot of papers to go through. Many of these missions are on my to-do list.

    I happen to be a paper person so I keep manuals I think I will need. For example, it is much easier to take a manual out to the car to install the bike rack than it is to try and use the itty-bitty diagrams we might upload onto the tablet or cell phone. I minimize the paper for those manuals I do keep — today I reduced a 60-page booklet to 14 pages simply by removing the French, Spanish and Italian parts — and I toss installation instructions for things that are installed once (ie dishwasher).

    For household inventory I scan the receipt and the front page of the manual (whether I keep it or not) as it usually has a picture of the item and the model number, which can be difficult to find or non-existent on the receipt. The picture also helps avoid confusion if you have more than one of something similar.

    I keep a few original receipts, particularly for large ticket items, and those with long warranties.

    We are getting better at going digital for banking and billing but I’m not really comfortable with it yet. I don’t mind for those bills that are automatically withdrawn but I do fear missing a credit card bill. We are pretty new to having a cell phone so we have paper bills for the moment and will go paperless when we’re comfortable with it. On the other hand, I’ve tried repeatedly to get the power company to switch me over and have had no luck. They thank me for switching to e-billing, and then send me a paper statement anyway! Going to have to tackle that one.

    We discussed going landline free in the new house but can’t quite bring ourselves to do it. Our internet comes in through the same line so there’s nothing to be gained. The other internet options simply aren’t as good. Besides, Ian can’t lose a landline phone!

    • Hello long time reader and lurker popping in finally to thank Wendy for the excellent idea of taking out the other language instructions. This will help me get the manuals I decided to keep to finally all fit nicely in one binder! Thanks. 😀

    • Hi Wendy B, it seems you are doing a pretty good job of reducing your manuals while still keeping what you “need”. Old habits can die hard sometimes when we have been doing things a certain way all our lives. I guess my 28 years of living with someone in the military and moving around or expecting to be moved at any moment can make one far more embracing of change.

      • Colleen – it isn’t as exciting as being a military family, but in our early years Adrian and I rented but unfortunately we had a run of bad luck with rental houses being sold or owners returning from overseas or landlords wanting their houses back for adult children etc etc – the thing was that rental properties were so hard to get at the time, usually the deal was that you had to be able to move in that night (I’m guessing to prevent vandals or squatters) so we had to get really fast at shifting. Fortunately it was only him, myself and our son who was a tot and we didn’t have a lot of stuff or furniture, but we got really fast, I think our record was four hours from signing the tenancy papers to plugging in the kettle.

        • Hi Moni, I bet while writing that you were thinking “Those were the good old days.” So much less stuff and just being prepared soon goes by the wayside when it fails to be a necessity. I certainly couldn’t claim to be anywhere near that minimalist. I would like to be more so and will keep plugging away at it.

          • Colleen – yes and no. While we didn’t have much, what we did was a typical young family mix – the too-good to use wedding gifts (and when would we use?) china tea set sitting in the cupboard along side my son’s sippy cups, the Battenburg lace napkins (that never got used) along the tea towels I got from K-Mart. I think obligational clutter was more of a problem back then, whereas no one would expect me to have their gift to me on display at this stage.

            Books were paper, music was on cd’s and cassettes, photos were in albums, tv’s were big, cumbersome and heavy boxes – heck even our stereo was a one man lift! So I do appreciate the streamline and digital options that are availalbe these days.

            But yes there is something to be said for not having a lot and not having to cater to a household of adult size people, but that will come along again.

    • Hi Wendy B, We have the same reason for keeping a landline – there are other but not better options for the internet connection yet – but I keep my eyes & ears open for one. Also, we use the landline as our answering service for those annoying telemarketing and “cross-marketing” calls, etc. We don’t want to give our cell numbers out to any of those callers 🙂

  5. Hi, Colleen. These are good tips to retain important information without the paper clutter. I also make sure that files go in labelled folders right from the start, as well as deleting unnecessary files, so that there’s no need to go back and sort out clutter on the computer later.

    • Good points Nicole V. I am always surprised when I encounter people who don’t know where certain files are kept on their computers. They just throw them somewhere in the documents folder and don’t bother making any logical sub-folders. I have no such problem. Mind you I am also surprised at the number of people my age and sometimes younger who can barely use a computer at all. Though perhaps I would be the same if my husband wasn’t so into it when home computers first became a thing. We got one pretty early on. Although I had already been using on in my families business before we got married. The first thing I did with it was set up a spreadsheet and database for pricing. So I guess I had a bit of a head start too.

  6. Colleen – yes it occured to me that Marie Kondo wouldn’t have been happy. It was sitting in the bookshelf area all nice and neat and looking all un-obvious. But at least I can check one thing off the “to-do” list in the course booklet – yes, I survived my wedding!

    Mind you, I don’t think Marie would be happy with my sausage roll socks either.

    • I have actually managed to borrow Marie Kondo’s book from a perfect stranger recently. I assured her she would get it back because I wouldn’t want it cluttering up my house once it was read. From the get go I have found a lot on inconsistencies with her claims and philosophy and particularly her claim of it being the only method that works. A bit pretentious I would say. And sorting the janitors closet instead of playing with kids in primary school, well that is just plain odd. And yes, my socks seem “happy” enough as sausage rolls as well. In fact I have written before how elastic seems to perish faster when not being used ie. in my sewing kit, than on clothes that get worn all the time. So I feel the stretching elastic is essential to a longer life. I can’t back this up with any real evidence but I am most certainly not going to get all airy fairy suggesting that my socks have any sort of feelings what so ever. I did however like her take on course materials, photographs and keepsakes. Mind you I suppose that is because unsubstantiated claims and airy fairy aside the rest of what she writes is pretty much the same stuff I have been writing here for years. Minus of course being conscientious about passing the unwanted items on or recycling them. She doesn’t seem to waste much mention on that, it seems a little too easy come easy go for my liking.

      • I also just read her book. Because Ian and I are sharing one dresser this summer I tried Kondo-folding socks and dang it works slick to fit them all neatly into the reduced space. Only problem…Ian coming to me with a hangdog expression and saying, “I feel like I’m destroying a work of art whenever I get a pair of socks”. I have no idea how the socks feel about it, but it works for me!

        • Wendy B – I would love to be able to do that folding but I dont seem to have the origami gene.

          • Hi Moni. I didn’t quite understand her instructions. To achieve her number of folds you would have to be working with socks ten feet long. I simply put anklet socks together and fold them once, toe to top of sock. Athletic socks are put together and folded once at the heel (toe to top of sock) and then once more. The ‘tidy’ part is simply standing them on end with the fat end of the fold on top. They pack in the drawer neatly and make good use of space. I think it is worth the effort and probably takes less time than potatoe-ing them (which I have always hated).

          • I fold my t-shirts the way she suggest, but I have been doing that for years. I also file socks but I am happy to potato them and they still have managed to give us years of service. So I guess they aren’t unhappy about it. I was reading the section about storing all like items together. Although I am not as stringent about it as she is I still am in agreement for the most part. I have written posts about rounding up things around the house in the past. It is hard to know how many of certain items one owns until you see them all together.

  7. I thought of a digital mini mission I should undertake this week – the external hard-drives and flash drives need a good tidy up.

  8. I would have thought music and DVDs would benefit most from being digitalised and reducing clutter. Being able to purchase movies online and using Netflix has reduced the need for having hard copies and DVD players.
    I don’t have a phone attached to my landline, even by placing my number on the ‘do not call ‘ register we still received too many unwanted calls, so I use the phone as an intercom to contact my son who lives in the converted garage.
    My husband has previously saved photos to a hard drive for me, at the time I though I couldn’t live without them hence asking him to save them. If I never saw that hard drive and its contents again I don’t think I would be too worried.
    Our finances are all online and very much paperless.
    Our bills are received online. If a bill is unpaid you soon receive a paper copy in the mail.
    I needed a receipt for a phone I purchased a few years ago for insurance purposes. I couldn’t find the receipt so I went into the shop and they were able to print up a new receipt. It was an iPhone. Dick Smith electronics in Australia will email a copy of your receipt if you make a purchase.
    Maybe you can ask companies to email you the receipt as well.
    I know I may have mentioned this before but I use the same chemist to buy all our prescription medication and health products from. I can go to the chemist and they will print up a list of my purchases. The chemist also keeps the paperwork for my prescriptions behind the counter, eliminating me losing them at home and allowing me to call ahead and have the medication ready to collect.
    Having access to my digital world is made easy with my iPad. I know some people have Kindles, but what do most of you use to access your digital world?

    • Hi Wendy I would be happy to get rid of CDs and DVDs altogether from our house but that’s because I don’t listen to or watch them. And then there is the proof of ownership thing. We did declutter quite a few some time back though and minimised the space the CDs take up.
      It is great that companies keep your receipt details on their records. I discovered this myself recently. Although I have known for a while the Apple do it. Also registering you warranty online to avoid the problem of keeping receipts too. I got my washing machine fixed last week by LG even though it was two months out of warranty. No receipts were necessary because they had all the information at their finger tips.
      As for the chemist/drugstore loyalty. I used to do the same in America and they have an even better system than we do. They have codes on the medication bottles that relate to your prescription records and all you have to do is call them with the code and they know exactly what and when you are due for a refill. And then, like your chemist, you just have to go down and pick them up. At one point Cindy was telling us about coloured rings that fit the medication bottles to identify one persons pills from another in the family so it is easy to grab the bottles from the medicine cabinet that are yours.

  9. I use my kindle fire hdx to access the digital world on a daily basis. I have a laptop that I turn on once a week to backup the data. The reason I have a laptop at all is so I do my taxes using the yearly disks and also to load music from CD to iTunes & iPod. Occasionally I use it to watch DVD movies. I love the size of my fire, being able to drop it in my purse works out great for me. Not only can I access the internet, but I have my books on it.

    • Hi Calla, tablets are handy little gadgets, that’s for sure. We have an iPad but my husband uses that mostly. I hate typing on the tiny keyboard so rarely ever use it unless it is the only thing we take on vacation. Which is why I usually get my blog posts in place before I go on vacation and then don’t involve myself in the comment much. That and because a vacation is meant to be a vacation. We will however be setting my husbands MacBook Air up with me as a user to take on vacation later this year because we will be away for so long. The iPad will go too but I will mostly use the MacBook. Actually when you think about it it seems crazy the along with two smart phones we will also be taking two other internet ready devices on vacation with us. Sounds a little over kill. But I will be blogging and trying to finish my ebook and my husband will be writing. And we are going for three months so it is like living overseas rather than just going on vacation.

  10. Forgot to say that at times I watch Netflix on my fire.