Mini Mission Monday ~ Obligation Clutter (From the Archives)

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.

Sorry folks I thought I had set a post up for today but alas I did not. Fortunately there are plenty in the archives to rehash. I thought this one was a good one as it is a category of clutter that most people struggle with to some degree. I hope you find it helpful.

I think it is time to take care of some more obligation clutter. That would be those things that you keep not because you want to but because you feel obligated to keep for one reason or another. This is not a good reason to keep anything because these items weigh you down emotionally. I will give you an example of a different kind of obligation clutter each day and you see if you can identify something in your home that matches and declutter it.

Monday – A family heirloom that you don’t appreciate.  Do your best to find someone else in the family to take it on otherwise it may be time to sell or donate it or perhaps loan it to a museum. Just remember heirlooms can be tricky as they may not technically be yours to give away. Do your research first to make sure they don’t actually belong to someone else in the family.

TuesdayGrown children clutter ~ This is something long ago left behind by your grown child. Your home is not a storage unit, ask them to collect it and let them know you are going to get rid of it otherwise. With a little diplomacy this is possible without alienating them.

Wednesday - A guilt item ~ Don’t feel obliged to keep something just because you shouldn’t have wasted the money on it in the first place. Try to sell it to recoup some money or just find a way to pass it on. Forgive yourself and move on.

Thursday – An unwanted gift ~ No explanation necessary, sell, donate or regift it.

FridayAnything that was given to you by someone else. If you no longer want or need it offer it back to the person who gave it to you, sell or donate it. You don’t have to keep things just because they came from someone else. I might seem a little repetitive on this advice but that is because people get very stuck on keeping this kind of stuff.

SaturdaySomething you keep for another’s benefit. This often happens with grown children. For example Dad has a bunch of useful tools that he no longer uses but his three sons often come over to borrow them ~ In this case divvy them up between the sons and let them borrow from one another. If they don’t want to do that then feel free to sell them or give them to someone who does want them. Once again your home isn’t a storage unit or a free hiring service.

SundayAn item you keep out of tradition that you never care to use. This might be the usual stuff like the good china and crystal but it could be like my old BBQ ~ It is almost an Aussie tradition to cook lots of BBQ meals but if you don’t you don’t need to have a BBQ just because everyone else in the neighbourhood does. This also goes for a collection of tools when you really aren’t much of an handyman or a sewing machine when you send all your clothes out to be altered or mended. (Personally, judging from the price my friend was recently quoted to have the hem sewn up on an apron, I would suggest you learn to use it and save your money but that is just my opinion.) Some of these items actually seem to double up as aspiration clutter.

Good luck and happy decluttering

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

Please follow and like us:
Pin Share

Continue reading with these posts:

  • Mini Mission Monday ~ Obligation 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 […]
  • Mini Mission Monday ~ Memorabilia Items 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 […]
  • Mini Mission Monday 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 […]
About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. I can handle this weeks missions. I can declutter almost anything but I have an item which I am not yet ready to declutter. When my eldest son was 12 years old ( he is 24 now) he gave me an award statue , like the Oscar ones. It had’ Awarded to the Best Mum’ . It’s kitschy and collects dust, and I could live without it, but I could not toss it. It will stay on the shelf in the kitchen and keep the white china Buddha with his hands in the air company, along with the little silver wizard and two small brass Buddhas.
    Awards or trophies have a short life in my house, but this one, he stays.
    I can ditch family heirlooms in a flash, luckily I have a sister who will take anything and everything family related .
    I have just moved ten boxes of assorted kitchen/house stuff to the back yard shed. It would have gone to the thrift shop but my daughter has put dibs on it for when she leaves home. I would say two boxes contain useful stuff, the rest will be her very own clutter collection.

  2. Okay Colleen! You must have been listening to my conversation with Mom. She has finally come to the conclusion that we need to get rid of some of the things she has been hanging onto since Dad died 20 years ago. I think it meets the criteria for all of the mini-missions except the Grown Children Clutter. We are first going to offer it to my brother in case he really wants something out of it. If he doesn’t then most of it will go to the Goodwill. A few things like our grandfathers pocket watch will be sold. I was looking around the house an have come to realize that we are to the point where getting rid of anything else will mean some deep thinking. What is left are things Mom will struggle with. While they are things I see no need for they still have some meaning to her. Some are sentimental things. Some are things to decorate with. Some are things she would use if she were still able to do things she used to do. I am going to leave these for her to let go of in her own timing whenever that is. There are still a few things here or there too that I know she will see as she has time. I will continue to work on a few things of my own that she still struggles with. I feel good about where we are because we have some so far in the last year.

    • It really sounds like you and your mom have made a ton of progress! That’s fantastic. I’m sure you both feel more comfortable in your home now. I know I have an easier time now that a lot of the easy to get rid of clutter is gone. I’m not through everything either, but our home is noticably lighter now.

      • Melissa, I am finding that we are both breathing lighter and feel like a heavy weight is off our shoulders. Mom said this morning that she thinks she wants to get rid of some more that is in her dresser. YES!!

    • That is really terrific, Deb J! I still have more to consider and most of my things are getting the second look these days. Once you get started and start noticing the benefits, you really gain momentum.

      • Gaining momentum is right Jen. I have some furniture pieces in craft room I wish I could get rid of but first I have to find a better way to house what is in them.

  3. I think it is worth considering what constitutes an ‘heirloom’. I just gave away a tiny blown glass dish – pretty but useless. Just because my Great Aunt brought it back from a holiday in Venice in 1965, does that mean I have to keep it? I asked my uncle about the set of antique china he gave me. Turns out his mother-in-law got it from someone in payment of a debt. Again, no family history. Not an heirloom, just old stuff (however nice). The pieces have been cleaned, inventoried and photographed and I’ll soon be looking for a buyer. I feel no need to be weighed down by it.

    • Wendy B, you are right. So many people think of things as heirloom that in reality are either guilt clutter or life circle clutter.

  4. A few years ago, when my stepgrandfather’s mother died, my grandmother sent me some beautiful doilies from her estate. I had them framed and on display when my grandmother and stepgrandfather came to visit. They noticed the doilies, and asked me where I’d gotten them! I am continuing to use the doilies as art because they really are beautiful, but that event struck me as proof that even lovely handmade items passed down through families become devoid of meaning most of the time. It is still hard to avoid feeling guilty about passing on handmade items, but I tell myself that the item and its maker would rather see it used than folded up in storage.

  5. Hello….I have been following your website for almost six months now and although I do not post comments, I now have a question. My husband, through the years for different occasions(mostly Valentine’s Day) has given me a stuffed toy along with a card and candy. I started keeping these toys in storage containers. They were a romantic and sweet gesture but now they are just clutter. How do I get rid of these toys and not hurt his feelings? He is a pack rat and thinks everything that you ever get should be kept. Luckily , he does not tell me what I should do with my own stuff but these toys are different, if you know what I mean…..

    I want to tell you how much I enjoy your website and all the comments posted….I read them everyday.

    • Hi Connie. While getting my husband on board for decluttering I used a lot of different strategies. My advice for this one would be to try and find a recipient that your husband feels good about – a children’s hospital cancer ward, church mission, foster kids program… He’s much more likely to go along if he feels he still has some sort of connection to the items as opposed to being just given away to the universe at large. If this approach works you might be able to use it in future to nudge him to get rid of some of his stuff too. It makes the process a bit more time-consuming but it has worked for us. Good luck. WB

      • Hi Wendy….thank you so much for the great advice…appeal to his softer side….we have a Ronald McDonald House here at the Children’s hospital…that might work….thanks again for the advice

  6. I was sitting here thinking I didn’t have anything to fit most of these categories, and then it hit me, yes I do! Thank you for making me think a moment about this.

    Monday – A family heirloom that you don’t appreciate. I was given a costume jewelry piece that belonged to my deceased aunt. Let’s just say, it’s not my style. I should call my mom and sister and ask if they’d like it. I could mail it to them if they do.
    Tuesday – Grown children clutter. Okay, I know I don’t have any of this as I have no children, grown or otherwise.
    Wednesday – A guilt item. It’s always shoes that fit this category for me! I just put a pair of cute sandals in the pile. They are cute, I would wear them, but no matter how many times I wash the straps these things give me horrible chemical burn on the tops of my feet. My skin just doesn’t agree with whatever finishing chemical was used on them. It’s time to give up on them.
    Thursday – An unwanted gift. We just got given a ‘fart detector’ last week. LOL!
    Friday – Anything that was given to you by someone else. Hmm, I’m sure I have something left that fits this category. I’ll have to think. I’ve been doing pretty well getting rid of stuff like this.

    • Hi Melissa. I haven’t birthed any children but I do know that two grown children live in this house – my spouse and myself. Even in our grand old age (ok, late middle age) we both still have stuff from our childhoods. He recently tossed his swimming badge. Wonder what I can dig up that I’ve been hanging onto for half a century…

      • 🙂 I have moved enough times in both my adult life and childhood that I don’t really have very much from my childhood. All I can think of is a stuffed dog who sits in my bedroom that was hand made for me by my grandmother that I am pretty sure I’ll never get rid of and a small blanket with teddy bears on it also hand made for me by my grandmother. I guess I have a few Christmas ornaments from my childhood as well, but I put those out on the tree every year. I had some honor society certificates from high school that I tried to throw out that my husband ‘rescued’ and keeps them with his papers for some reason. Good luck with your dig! 🙂

  7. Great mini missions as always this week, Colleen!