Mini Mission Monday ~ Go against convention

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.

Last week I wrote a post called Be Open Minded. This post was about being open to changing your mindset about what you keep. We keep so many things because it is conventionally normal to do so. This week lets see if we can get rid of some things that we have because it is the norm whether we actually need them of not.

Monday – Declutter anything you have several of for no reason other than that variety is the spice of life. Is it, is it really? ~ crockery, towels, sheets, trinkets, jewellery, toiletry products…

Tuesday – Declutter a kitchen item that you have simply because everyone else does. If you don’t find it helpful on a regular basis then it isn’t necessary to you. ~ Garlic press, potato peeler, cake pans, blender, turkey baster, meat thermometer, deep fryer…

Wednesday – Declutter something from your pantry that isn’t healthy for you even though most people stock it. The best way to avoid unhealthy food is to not keep it in your home. ~ White sugar, pasta, sweet sauces, white rice, white flours, candy…

Thursday – Declutter something you only keep in your home for those rare visitors that drop by maybe once or twice a year. They can always bring their own or do without. ~ Hair dryer, spare toothbrush, a variety of soap, talcum powder, more linen and towels than necessary…

Friday – Declutter a piece of excess furniture such as bedside cabinet or a dressing table in a spare room. Guests don’t bring that much stuff that they require whole pieces of furniture to store it in. It is just something else you have to dust and vacuum around.

Saturday – Take a look at your cleaning products. Perhaps you could find some multipurpose ones so that you don’t need to carry such variety. I use vinegar and bicarb soda for so many things these days along with a little lemon juice and dish liquid. These three ingredients with or without water makes up my surface cleaner, shower cleaner, jewellery cleaner, fabric softener and drain cleaner. Also three of these ingredients were things I already carried in the pantry for cooking.

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. Hi Colleen. My email didn’t arrive but I found you on the web thank goodness! Love this week’s idea and I know that I’ve been influenced by convention (and advertising!) in the past – but no more! All those shiny new things in this seasons colours that make you want to add to your collection – or worse still get rid of the perfectly good version of them at home – no longer tempt me. The worlds of convention and advertsising have lost their power over me 🙂

    • Yes some sort of weird glitch with the blog post this morning. Not sure what happened there.
      Megan, I am so happy you no longer fold to convention. It is such a good feeling isn’t it not to be a slave to stuff.

  2. For cleaners – I have access to a 20 litre drum at work of citrus based cleaner that I can fill a container and take home whatever I want. As it gets diluted with water, I am very very slowly working my way thru that.
    However I recently learned about Soap Nuts which are the shell of a seeed from a tree. 5 or 6 of these shells get chucked in a little cotton bag with a draw string and go thru with the laundry or in the dishwasher. There are heaps of other uses for them ie can be made into shampoo or household cleaner etc but I’m just starting out. I’m thinking next Spring I might buy a seedling and although they take 3 years to start producing, it could be a very useful plant to have in the garden.

    • Moni, I have heard about Soap Nuts but did not know if they really work well. Have you tried them or just hear about them? Do they have a fragrance?

      • Deb J – no fragrance – which I kinda miss the soap scent but no complaints with the clean. Adrian likes the towells done with the soap nuts. Good for allergy sufferers. Yes we’re using them at the moment. I’m going to try the dishwasher tonight.
        When I get home I will grab the brochure that came with them and see if there is any other info. I was put onto them by someone who grows her own.

        • Hum! I may have to try these. It would be nice to have something better for me and for the environment. If you can grow it yourself that is even better. I will have to look into this more. Thanks so much for telling us about this.

    • Hi Moni, I have heard of these before but have never tried them. I have heard mixed reviews though. Perhaps you should try them first and see what you think before bothering to plant one. I wonder sometimes about the mixed reviews as to whether some peoples’ standard of clean is lower than others. I have no time for anything that doesn’t clean things to a high standard. This is possible with eco cleaners but some are not doubt better than others.

      Oops just started reading the other comments and didn’t realise you were already using them. You will have to keep us informed about how they are working out for you. I would certainly be willing to give them a try if you think the are good.

      • Colleen – have been using them, no complaints whether they actually do clean but I factored in that I have a big washing machine and so added extra soap nuts to the bag and have been warned on what to watch out for when they’re due to be composted. We have soft water where we live, but have been told not so good in the hard water areas (but most soaps under react to hard water). They do prefer a warm wash, whereas some people prefer to use cold water so that could be part of the mixed reviews.

        I do like the scent of the laundry power but the instructions suggest adding a couple of drops of essential oil to the water if you so desire. I did a load with soap nuts and then a load with powder, both were equally clean. Adrian prefers the towells done with the soap nuts as they came out feeling a bit softer. Our next house, Adrian wants to have a grey water system for the gardens and these would be great for such a system.

      • Colleen – also there are different varieties of Soap Nut trees which could make a difference. The place I bought ours from is across the city and the website was quite informative, perhaps if you googled soap nuts and your area name there might be someone similar.

  3. Hmmm. We don’t stock white rice because other people do. We stock it because we eat it. Often. Of all the unhealthy foods I have given up or could give up, white rice is not one of them. I could more easily do without pasta or bread – far more easily.

    I actually did Monday’s mission yesterday (it is currently Sunday here). I really pared down my bathroom stuff (and put the extra toothbrushes [free from the dentist] in a small container in my bedroom closet – doesn’t clutter my bathroom and I won’t have to buy new toothbrushes for a year). It looks so much better.

    I will be contemplating the kitchen gadget mini-mission. 😀

    • I thought I would never give up white rice either but then my husband did. We eat curry quite often but I just put in a lot of veggies and we don’t eat rice with it now. I will have rice occasionally but not often. I have in recent years only cooked with Basmati rice as it has a low GI rating which is better for you than other white rice.

      • I will give basmati rice a try. I do like wild rice which is supposed to be healthier than even brown rice. We rarely eat curry but we eat stews, gumbo, jambalayas, sauce piquantes, so on and so forth. Pretty much all served with rice. All part of growing up and living in southern Louisiana, I suppose. 😀

        • Ah yes Rachel W, it is hard to change old cultural habits but substituting with a similar but healthier ingredient is a step in the right direction. Rice is such a carb food, OK so long as eaten in moderation.

      • I like brown rice much better than white rice. We eat it quite often with stirfry

  4. This won’t be for everyone, but if you can stand the fumes, diluted Cloudy Ammonia is a fantastic grease cleaner and it will (really, truly) get soap scum of tiles and plastic baths (dilute 1 part CA to 9 parts water or thereabouts and wear gloves).

    I have accidentally spilled a little bit on my ceramic floor tiles in the kitchen and I can see that it is going to make a very good tile cleaner there too, when I get around to a full-on scrubbing job. So now I have no need for about five products for showers and floors etc that smell just about as bad, cost a bomb and don’t even work. As an added bonus, cloudy ammonia is as cheap as chips!

    (And, yes I know we should be super-disciplined and squeegee the shower after every use and/or do it all with microfibre clothes/vinegar/baking powder BUT every now and then I put my glasses on and discover that it has become the SHOWER FROM HELL and stronger measures are needed…)

    • I find turps is great to clean the shower with as well.

    • Hi Calico Ginger, I try to avoid anything the requires wearing rubber gloves. Anything that powerful and potentially harmful to shin, eyes etc can’t be good for you or the environment in my book.

      I do make an exception with the oven cleaner though because nothing else will get this hideous oven I have clean. To top that off it seems to get dirty so easily as well. Worst one I have ever had and I have had eight over 26 years of marriage.

      I also buy toilet bowl cleaner but use it sparingly. If I feel the grout in the shower needs some extra help I use a little of the toilet cleaner.

  5. I purchased soap nuts from the health food store, but never got around to using them. They have been Declutted a long time ago.
    On Saturday , we drove past a handmade sign advertising a ‘De-Hord Sale,for retro stuff.’ A more honest way of advertising the garage sale? Or a sign of the times?
    I am aiming to Declutter some plants this week, I am sure there are people who would enjoy them more than me. I think my plants are like other people’s craft supplies.
    How hard is it to go shopping for food now with all the Easter Chocolates on display! All those lovely little Lindt rabbits wrapped in gold foil waiting for you to buy them! I have made the pantry a little bit healthier, with no biscuits or white sugar, no Coca Cola etc. Slow progress , but its happening. 🙂

    • Hi Wendy, which health food store did you buy the soap nuts at. I might give them a try.

      Good for you getting some of that junk out of your pantry. I have no problem with the lindt bunnies because when I see all that Easter stuff in the store I just get annoyed with the marketing of it all and refuse to play their game. It is in the stores from practically the day after Christmas and that is ridiculous. We refuse even to buy a hot cross bun until the day before Good Friday and only eat them over the Easter weekend.

      • I am so guilty of Easter/Spring marketing. I have a spring vase and went to Hobby Lobby (a craft/hobby store) and bought only what I needed for a spring flower arrangement, but as I was walking through the store, “oh, that’s cute!” came out of my mouth several times. I barely managed to escape! I already have lots of cute Easter things and got those out yesterday after (Colleen!!) dusting with my new micro fiber clothes. 😉 After putting out my spring decor items, I realized I actually do not have any room for any more – I have just enough. Guess I won’t be going back to Hobby Lobby anytime soon.

        • Michelle, Hobby Lobby is just too, too tempting. I try not to go there unless I have to for something I really, really need.

        • I am with Deb J on this, Hobby Lobby is just too tempting. Ever heard the line from The Lords Prayer “…lead us not into temptation..” I would suggest you don’t lead yourself into temptation. 😉

          Hope those microfibre clothes are working out well.

  6. Hi Colleen,

    I would love to have your insight on my spending addiction. I never went without as a kid, had some fairly ordinary ‘experiences’ which I won’t elaborate on (too personal), and also felt a fair bit of parental love was conditional, but nonetheless I had most needs met. I still can’t understand where my compulsive clothes shopping came from or more importantly why I do it. I racked up of 30k debt with this sort of caper, have started to get it under control, but I want to know what root cause it had. You seem so insightful, I was hoping you,or readers might have some ideas and suggestions.

    I blog about my clothes decluttering at and an attempt at living simpler at htrtp://

    • I am guessing that you have probably answered your own question there Francesca. “…some fairly ordinary ‘experiences’…” & “…felt a fair bit of parental love was conditional…” I dare say looking good made you feel special. The sort of special you felt you weren’t getting somewhere else. That is not to say you were justified in your actions or that your parents weren’t doing the best they could. It just sometimes works out that way. I am not the perfect parent either and I dare say I had some negative effects on my children through things I did that I thought was the right way to raise them. The same as my parents had on me.

      My children are both different even though they are raised by the same parents. Personalities rub differently on one another. I have four siblings all of who are different but from the same parents. Ultimately we have to be responsible for our own destinies in the end. Finding someone or something to blame for our mistakes is in itself a mistake. My two children are very different when it comes to finances, one pretty hopeless the other very good. Both opposite reactions to the same parenting. Life is just a funny old thing and it is also what we make of it.

    • Do you have identity and self-esteem issues? Sometimes people try to buy a personality, so to speak, by buying clothes (and other stuff, decor, hobbies and so on..) that will present a certain personality, image.. because their identity is not clear. They don’t know who they are, so they keep trying on roles. The self-esteem issue can be tied to this. You may think that you’d like yourself better and be happier, if you were more like someone else.. and you tried to make yourself more like someone else by dressing the part. Clothes are the most visible thing to other people around you, so they are often one of the worst areas of overspending and trying to create an image. If you can start to see clothes ad just something non-important that you wear to be modest and warm, it would really help break the attachment. It would still be okay to have preferences and like some styles and colors better. But if you could just separate the stuff you wear, own, drive and put in your face or spray on your body, from YOURSELF, that would be tremendously helpful. You are you, no matter if you wear the same pair of jeans and a t-shirt every single day. Let yourself shine, not the clothes. Hugs to you 🙂

    • I am not an expert and certainly you have already been given some great replies, but I thought I would reply too. After all, that is why most of us choose to be a part of communities like this one. We see an area in our lives that we would like to improve upon and with other people’s ideas and encouragement, we are able to keep our minds and eyes on what it is we would like to accomplish. Let me say that you were very honest not just here on this blog, but with yourself and that is so commendable. That is the first step, realizing that you want a change in your life and you are willing to take the steps to make that happen.
      Sometimes it is hard to pinpoint exactly what causes one to shop beyond necessity and into excess. I have shopped out of boredom or because whomever I was hanging out with wanted to go shopping and I found it hard to resist. Sometimes people shop because they are filling a void in their lives or because it has become a hobby instead of finding other things to occupy their time. Sometimes we shop because we like trendy, new things. The reasons are numerous and different for each person and are different each day of the week. Shopping can be an addiction for some people and it can be a habit that can get out of hand quickly. Knowing what triggers the desire to shop and ultimately purchase unnecessary items , also helps.
      Although many people like to judge others based on their appearances, clothing really does not make us who we are. Be true to yourself and know that clothing labels does not a person make. Congratulations on facing the issue, getting control over it, and not letting those clothes have control over you. Stay focused and good luck to you.

    • Francesca – I have waited to see what the other 365’ers put up – all great advice – I was a comfort shopper and a comfort eater – the gratification from either was to fill a small void in my life. I am reading a book at the moment and the author encourages us to search for the trigger moment that prompts the desire to go and buy something – and then when the moment occurs, yank the reins so to speak, but have Plan B already in mind. Plan B might not give the ‘high’ that a purchase does – though we should be honest that the ‘high’ from a purchase never lasts long – but if it gives a distraction and fills the gap a bit until the feeling has passed. Plan B to a comfort eater would be keeping a museli bar in the handbag or buying a tasty salad instead of something calorie laden. Shopping. The best bet is to stay away from the shopping malls but inevitably you are going to have to go shopping at some stage. Figuring out the triggers is important – it can be as simple as the time of the day you are most likely to trigger ie if it is late afternoon, only go to the shops in the morning if you have to go, is it when you’re feeling tired or stressed? Avoid going to the shops in those modes. I have a friend and she identified her trigger as when she isn’t feeling pretty, rather than heading off to the shops, she gives herself a home job pedicure and manicure, by time the nail polish has dried she feels quite pleased with the results and the trigger moment has passed.

  7. Going against convention, I like it. Just like going against the thoughts that I must acquire more and more stuff to justify myself and that I must be like everyone else who has bought into this notion. We have to be individuals and not become what society has told us we should be. I am glad that my thinking is turning around and I am moving away from that mindset. Monday’s mini mission is a good one. I need to sort out my jewelry because it is just like clothing, 20% of the pieces are worn 80% of the time. I am in the use it up mode for my toiletry items. I will not buy anymore of that stuff until I run out. I finally had to go buy a bottle of lotion the other day because I no longer had any in the house. It was the first one that have bought in months because I wanted to use up what I had first. It was such a liberating feeling :). For Thursday’s mission, I only purchase items for specific visitors when I know for sure they are visiting. No need to have something waiting around “just in case”.

    • Jen – it is funny that you mention jewellery as I have decided to go thru mine too – it may sound extravagent but I sometimes buy cheap jewellery to compliment specific outfits that I have realise that I have recently packed in a box to go to Goodwill, so I will be adding these pieces in the box too. There is one piece that I never got to wear and I found myself doing a bit of a stalling dither – just when I thought I was thru with that old behaviour!

      I am also planning to declutter a jewellery box too that has been hiding up on the top shelf of the wardrobe.

      • I wish that I did buy all my pieces do go with certain outfits, that would make it easier. They could go out the door as an outfit leaves. Unfortunately I bought most pieces just because they caught my eye or because they were cute and I thought I would wear them some day. I have many that I have never worn and most of it is cheap costume jewelry so it won’t be hard to let go of it.

        • Jen – the majority of my clothes comes from chain stores that are at the cheaper end of the scale, generally not very good quality but cute – and then I wear them to death! And if it needs something, I buy something cheap from eQuip or similar. I’m not a fashionista but when I want to go out or look nice, I’m all for quick results, I’m not good at pulling an outfit together under pressure! So that’s why I went that way. Dressing up for Dummies! LOL

          • I don’t spend a lot on clothes either and I don’t like things too complicated. I like the idea of keeping it simple and comfortable :).

    • Sounds like you have your missions all planned for the week and at least one you don’t need to deal with at all Jen, good for you. I am glad your starting to see that you don’t need new stuff to make you happy. It is much more satisfying to get good use out of the stuff you have.

    • Friday morning I went through my jewelry box and I failed to come up with a single thing and there’s a lot of stuff in there! This is perhaps not an area I am prepared to tackle just yet. 🙁

  8. Love this weeks “mini missions”. Awhile back, I read this quote…”Other people really need what you don’t use”. So simple. So profound. Everything you give away is like a gift that keeps on giving. That is incentive enough!

  9. Great ideas, Colleen! Thanks for this. Hope you had a great weekend.

  10. Took a load to the thrift store last week; felt good to get it out of the home. I did rescue a spatula from the donation pile before the donation. I think it works for me to let the donation pile linger for a few weeks so that I can rescue the occasional thing I rethink. This allows me to be more ruthless in putting things in the donation pile.

    I decluttered a vase and a basket today. One item on my mind now is our iron – we rarely dress up and try to avoid owning clothes that need ironing so we don’t use it often. But it is just one of those things that it seems an adult should own, and not easy to substitute when we do need to get wrinkles out.

    Over the weekend, I heard a radio story about the US troops working on a massive effort to get their stuff out of Afghanistan. Apparently over the years a bunch of junk has been saved like broken tents and unusable vehicles. Now they have to sort through it all. My laboratory at the university is cluttered up with decades old broken equipment too – our advisor wants to keep it in case we can trade it in for a discount or fix it sometime. The lab would feel so much bigger and more productive if it wasn’t full of junk, but I should focus on the areas I do control.

    • RebeccaJ – wow, never considered how much would be involved breaking camp from Afghanistan, I guess 10 years is a long time to set down roots and establish a fairly permanent camp. I always assumed the military would have the mobile base thing sussed – all this is based on me watching MASH as a kid – but yes ammo would have to be stored carefully, technology. medical and just the numbers of people and housing and feeding them.

    • Hi Rebecca, I didn’t bother reading the article because I figure this junk is a small issue in the big scheme of things, such as the number of fallen soldiers, other deaths and injuries and the damage from bombings etc. Clearing this mess a small duty in comparison, but a necessary one to take all the rubbish home and dispose of it there rather than leave it behind for someone else to deal with. The US military, I am sure, are very proficient at this and will get the job done.

      I think the lingering of your donation pile seems to be working quite well even if you do fish the odd thing out every now and again. As for that iron, I am sure it is possible to live without one although I can’t see that happening for me any time soon. You could always borrow one from a neighbour or take the odd thing to a Laundromat to tidy it up for a special occasion.

  11. Monday’s mission is very timely as over the weekend I came realize that I have 10 casserole dishes. Surely this is too many! I didn’t set out to own ten, but before I was married I had 3 or 4, my husband had some from before we were married and then his grandmother passed away and we were given hers…and voila, like that I find myself with 10 of them. My husband and I were in our thirties when we got married and had both lived on our own for a long time before we met or married so when we did marry and combine our households we found that we had duplicates of just about everything. I thought I had pared back most of the kitchen items pretty well until I went digging in the cabinet where the casserole dishes are kept. I haven’t tackled this one yet, as our weekend was already very full, but it is in the front of my mind as the next place that could use a purge. I’m not sure yet how many make sense for our family to keep, but surely it won’t be all 10! I like to cook, but that’s a bit much!

    • Melissa – wow 10 casserole dishes! What an excellent opportunity to do a big declutter! I personally have one but I also have the slow cooker – how many are you going to declutter?

      • Hi Moni. I am not sure yet. You’re right. There is definitely an opportunity here. I need to look at each piece before deciding on a number as they are not identical. Before I get on this task I am working on shipping off the mountain of stuff my husband and I identified to get rid of over the past week (we’ve been focusing on decluttering our garage). I loaded up my entire trunk and back seat with those things last night and dropped it off at Goodwill, but another car load still remains. My plan is to get this cleared out before making a new mountain to ship off! 🙂 I do have those dishes on the brain though and it will be the next area to be tackled.

    • Hi Melissa, I am guessing you are correct, you do not need 10 casserole dishes. You most certainly don’t need more than can fit in your over together at any given time. When I started my declutter mission I would have owned five I am sure. Now I have a nesting set of three. In the cupboard they only take up the space of the biggest one.

      • Hi Colleen,

        I’m happy to say I got this task complete this weekend. I decluttered the whole cabinet, not just the casserole dishes and washed the whole thing out while I was at it. I kept 3 of the casserole dishes- two that nest and a third little round one with a cover that I use most frequently for steaming veggies in the microwave. I also got rid of some metal baking pans and a metal roaster because I just don’t use them (even if it is ‘normal’ to have them) I prefer to cook in glass or ceramic as I think it gives the food better flavor. This is why I wanted to save this task for the weekend- I knew I couldn’t devote proper time to it during the week to get the whole thing cleared out correctly. 🙂 The whole project took about 3 hours, but it’s so much easier to use this cabinet now and I know everything is nice and clean as I washed and dried each piece that got kept.

        • Well done Melissa, only three hours to achieve a fresh clean cabinet which now holds only the things you use. While everything is now much easier to get at because the cabinet isn’t filled with clutter. I bet it is a please to enjoy every time you cook.

          Every time I decluttered something from my kitchen I was able to rearrange a few things to make it more functional. Now it is a joy to use. I would like to tweak it just a little more but that will happen once my daughter has left home and taken a few things out of it with her.


  1. […] us an update on her decluttering efforts with the ten casserole […]