Mini Mission Monday ~ Habit Clutter

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.

I suppose you are wondering what I mean by habit clutter and of course I am going to tell you. Habit clutter is any clutter that you either keep out of habit, you collected out of habit in the first place, items relating to former bad habits, or a habit of not putting things away causing mess or causing you to have trouble finding them. So lets see if you can find something to declutter from each of the following scenarios.

Monday – A collection of something you lost interest long ago but keep out of habit.

Tuesday – Do you keep stocking a certain item in your pantry because you always have even though you find it rarely gets use these day. Like I have white sugar and caster (bakers) sugar even though I use low GI or raw sugar in my tea these days therefore I don’t need to keep two kinds of white sugar.

Wednesday – Storing enough towels or sheets or blankets or whatever to accommodate a family of six even though there are only the two of you living there these days.

Thursday – Same goes for pots, pans, trays, baking dishes etc that were necessary for that family of six mentioned above that have long since flown the coop.

Friday – What about the remnants of a unhealthy habit you once had like smoking ~ you have kept a couple of ashtrays just in case a smoker comes to visit. Why not make you home a smoke free zone it is your right to after all.

Saturday – How about decluttering an existing bad habit like eating too much sugary food. Get the last of it out of there (preferably not by eating it) so that you can start a fresh without the temptation sitting right under your nose.

Sunday – Do you have a habit of not putting things away after you use them. This can lead to a mess and/or an inability to find the things when you need them. Work on changing that bad habit into a good one. It might be putting your car keys on a hook whenever you walk in the door so you know where they are the next time you are rushing out the doore. Or perhaps putting your cell phone in a certain pocket in you handbag when you are out so when it rings you can find it before the call cuts out.

Good luck and happy decluttering

Today’s Declutter Item

Here are a collection of old badges that my husband was keeping out of habit. He kept passing over them while decluttering the keepsake box. I think he finally realised he didn’t need them to remind him of his early travels.

Collection of badges

Something I Am Grateful For Today

Two friends joining me for my usual Sunday roast dinner. I wouldn’t have bothered were I left to cook it just for myself (Liam doesn’t like roast dinner). Instead I had some wonderful company.

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. Okay! This speaks to me. Habits. Mother and I were talking the other day about this. We both found a couple of things that we have been doing out of habit and we asked ourselves why. I’m going to talk to her today about using these mini-missions to break these habits. I will let you know how it goes at the end of the week. Thanks Colleen.

    • Good for you Deb J. I hope you both have success with it. Do you find that you and your mother are strengthening your relationship through this decluttering process? Sometimes I get the feeling that you might be.

      • We have always had a pretty strong relationship but for some reason Mom seems to be listening to the words better or seeing the backscape or something. It’s been really interesting because I’m not sure what has really set her off. I have talked about why I am getting rid of things both to her and to others. Maybe that is what is finally resonating. We are closer in that she is talking about things more rather than just having a stuborn set to her face. The other day when she went through all the photos from over the years she would look at pictures and say why she didn’t think we needed a picture or why we did and even ask what I thought. I had told her to look through and let me know what she wanted to do so I would know what she wanted scrapped and what she wanted kept and IF there were any she wanted to get rid of. I expected her to keep most of them. Instead she got rid of 85%-90% of them. I was shocked to say the least but what was neat was that she talked it out. Something she has never been one to do before. To have her sharing her thoughts like that was big.

        • Wow Deb, perhaps you have also taught her to communicate better. How wonderful, it is really nice when you can properly discuss how you feel about things. I think that brings people together more than anything else. It ought to be a more naturally easy process but for some reason most people find it awkward. Communication isn’t just about listening and being open it is about learning to word what you are saying in such a way that the other person doesn’t feel judged or under pressure.

          I guess your mum now feels like she isn’t being railroaded even though she never was (perception is a funny thing) and this is giving her a more open mind.

          • I think it might be that she is realizing that I will actually listen to her thoughts. I’m not sure why but it has made a difference. I think in her growing up and in her 46 years with my dad that she thought she couldn’t share her thoughts so kept quiet. After 19 years she’s finally figured out that I won’t put her down or get mad or not listen. Weird but good.

        • oh, this almost made me cry. what a lovely change. it seems that your mother gets comfortable to think out loud. And just as colleen writes, she isnt afraid of being judged by you or anyone. I love if people can do that, it is so much easier to talk to people who are able to articulate their thoughts to other people.

          This is probably the best story to prove that leading by example is the best and easiest method to convince people. your mum could just pick her time and pace and now that she is comfortable with it, she can give it a go herself. congrats, Deb J!

          • Lena, you are right. It’s so neat to see her blossoming in a way that she never has before.

  2. Hi – this is a challenging set of mini missions! Will really have to put my thinking cap on.

    I think, sometimes some items achieve a longevity status and almost seem to earn tenure in the household. Sometimes these items would fetch so little being sold on ebay/trademe. Sometimes they have such a nice uncluttered spot in the house, it is easy to leave them be. They have no obvious ‘expiry’ date, they don’t go out of fashion or are outgrown or wear out. They just sit tucked away quietly minding their own business. And they are not obvious!

    • Moni, I know what you mean. Those are the kinds of things Mom and I have been talking about. They are just automatically there as part of the landscape. We have had them so long that we habitually put them out wherever we live without giving it thought. I like the “no obvious expiry day.”

      • Hi Deb J – yes part of the landscape is exactly it, our eyes go straight over them. And that’s probably why we don’t even notice them.

        Yes I use expiry dates a lot. Some things, unfortunately, still have a potential use where I could possibly end up having to replace if I eliminate them, but my evil eye has ‘marked’ them!

    • That sounds a lot like habit clutter to me Moni, but you put it so nicely that I might just want to keep the ones you describe. They sound like quietly loved clutter.

  3. I hear you on the sugar! I used to have about 7 different kinds (icing, caster, raw, dark muscovado, light muscovado, golden caster, dark brown sugar), but I’m trying to cut down on the family’s sugar consumption so I’m slowly phasing most of them out, and only buying a certain kind if it’s required for baking (I don’t do much of it any more, but my husband and daughter have taken it on). Recently discovered coconut sugar (low GI I think?) and use it in my tea, very nice!

    • I haven’t heard of some of those sugars! I have dextrose, my pretend healthy sugar, white caster and brown. Never really understood raw. Oh and I have icing sugar too….

    • Hi Loretta I haven’t heard of most of those, I have Icing Sugar, White Sugar, Raw Sugar (for the kid’s Wheetbix) and Soft Brown Sugar for porridge and milos.

      Have never heard of coconut sugar but it would be worth looking into.

      • I used to bake a lot and am a big fan of Nigella Lawson (who adores her sugar, she’s always writing about muscovado sugar – the health food stores stock it)

        • I love NIgella too – and she does mention it – I’ve obviously just been ignoring her and substituting… Perhaps I can get rid of white for one of her fancy sugars :p

      • Moni try real maple syrup on your porridge you’ll never go back.

      • We have white sugar for some things Mom bakes but I use Stevia because I am diabetic and it doesn’t raise my blood sugar. Mom uses some Splenda (sucralose).

    • I was having a conversation about sugar with a friend the other day and she had coconut sugar at her house. I had never heard of it before. I don’t think I would like it in my cup of tea though.

      • You’d be surprised Colleen. It doesn’t taste horrible or artificial, and you need a little bit more than your normal amount as it isn’t very sweet. I really like it! It’s bloody expensive though 🙂

        • Hi Loretta, the word expensive scares me enough to give it a miss. I have actually made the decision to stop putting sugar in my tea for the week and see how I warm to the idea. So far so good.

  4. now thats challenging mini-missions. funny enough, I just came across todays topic. I used to (still do actually) collect pretty stones on beaches that I have spent some time at. I have a collection of I guess 30 little stones, the biggest is as big as my palm. I had stored them in a glass with those tiny clutter items, you know, those dices, hourglasses, whistles, pearls and buttons… I could not part with my stones, because they are reminders of travels and are also just really beautiful items. So I placed them into my jewellery box, because that was getting really big and empty after rounds and rounds of decluttering… So I am happy with the outcome, because I can now enjoy those stones again every time I get a necklace. I need to get this glass with tiny clutter out though.

    tuesdays mission is in progress: I just decided to empty all of my pantry again to see what I really need. so I will just use things up without replacing them.

    wednesday: nothing to declutter – I am fine with this category.

    Thursday: I will try to sell this perfectly new, unused baking tray, which, guess what – my mum gave me. Now I really have to say this now to all of you ladies who are also mothers, and I will say it to mine soon – again: PLEASE dont give your children stuff that you think is absolutely gorgeous, practical or a must in a new household. They will end up with stuff that is not used. and that covers irons (no – I am not ironing my clothes, never have, hopefully never will), baking trays with holes (with holes you ask? its obviously made for frozen food, I just found out), pretty decoration objects, or worst: Furniture… If your children ASK for those items, then its ok to give it to them, of course. its also great if you come and sew curtains, and help with arranging, do all those motherly great things that mothers do… But please dont bring stuff in, even if you think “they will need this”. If they do, they ask.

    for fridays mini mission – I will declutter a beautiful ashtray. I think I will give it to my friend, who is smoking inside her flat and enjoying a nice ashtray more than me (I go outside for smokes, so I use one that is water-/wind-proof). I am not planning to stop smoking however 😉

    all this talk about sugar made me declutter my grandmothers sugar bowl… I dont use sugar, except for some cooking or baking, so I really dont need to have this little thing there. although it is beautiful. I dont need this to remember her, and I will try to sell it.

    on sunday: I am actually having my things and habits under control. so I made my own new habit: I started sorting my digital music again. each day a couple of minutes…

    I found myself highly motivated yesterday, when I saw the pictures of the minimalists apartment tour. and yeah, I make that a goal. just as colleens decluttered craft area. how inspiring you guys are.

  5. Going through old medicine can also be wise and get rid of the ones you don’t use any more or that have expired. Replace the ones you currently need. I recently went through my make up and all the other personal care items and got rid of ones I don’t use any more or ones that expired or have been around way too long and I don’t use them any more.

  6. Thanks so much for the “Habit” mission, I call those items my “Just in Case,” things. I have little storage in my small apartment, but I have managed to squirrel away many “Just In Case” items for exactly the reasons you pointed out. My next hurdle, and the one I keep avoiding the most, is the holiday ornaments I have amassed over many years. I used to be a collector of valuable ornaments for my tree. I have distributed almost even piece of my collection, but tucked away in a foot locker that serves as a coffee table, are the remnants that remind me of the past. That foot locker is packed like a professional traveler packs a suitcase. Not a nook or cranny is missed. That would be okay if I had a Christmas Tree any more. I don’t. I have pictures; close ups of those important ones. Meanwhile these sit in disuse. This year, this summer, they go on Craig’s list. If they don’t sell, I think I will donate them to a women’s shelter. Knowing that they are used will actually be a big relief and very satisfying. I only need a few decorations for a small apartment and those would fit nicely in a small drawer that also stands in need of decluttering. Solving two problems with one action, now that would feel really satisfying……Thanks again, Judith

  7. For some reason (does my house smell bad), my friends are always giving me candles. I love the scent of them at first but after a while, the scent diminishes and I don’t like it anymore. So, I am gathering up all of the candles (except the tapers for the candlesticks on the piano) and donating them to the thrift store. I know there are lots of people who will burn them and enjoy them but they are just not for me anymore. The other thing I will be doing this week is cleaning out the medicine chest in our upstairs bathroom. I did a mini-decluttering this weekend, tossing old makeup and mouthwash but really need to take a look at the expiration dates and some of the things I don’t really see anymore.
    I know I am making progress because I am beginning to look at every cabinet or drawer with an eye to “what can I get rid of in here” instead of just shoving into it the item in my hand and closing it. I love the suggestions for each day of the week. It reminds me to look at different things.