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 takes the guess work out of decluttering and makes it easy and “fun” for you to achieve some quick decluttering.

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

Today’s Declutter Item

I don’t have any heirloom clutter that I can think of to add here today. Letting go of obligation clutter was one of the first lessons I learned way back at the beginning of my mission. Every now and again something surfaces but not too often these days. So I will document this craft decluttered item that I recently eliminated during the big craft room reshuffle.

Craft Clutter

Something I Am Grateful For Today

I love it when the sun is shining and streams into the living spaces at the back of my home all afternoon, warming it up. I saves me having to put on the heater and therefore saves electricity.

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

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  • 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. * creeps in * Hi Colleen & Cindy!!! Popped on for some inspiration!! Still pretty paired down round these parts but do need to have a little declutter. Off to catch up on previous posts!!

    Sharron x

    • Good luck Sharron, I hope you find the inspiration you are looking for among those posts. Just remember anything that isn’t loved, appreciated or useful is clutter so have at it.

  2. I’m going to be facing a lot of that at my parents house.. but I think it will be okay as I’m not incredibly sentimental about things. Keep a few of the best, give away the rest.

  3. Getting stuff back to people is my favourite ‘decluttering’ (though I always feel like I can’t put it on my ‘decluttered list’ I’m keeping!). I returned a drill and it’s bits last night, today I shall return silver cleaner and ipods+accessories, also have some returns to a store to make… Lots is outbound, yay!

    • You are right Snosie borrowed items don’t belong on the list of items decluttered because they never belonged to you. It still feels good when you get it all out of the house though so have fun with it.

  4. Unfortunately/fortunately I don’t have any family heirlooms – I would assume all of those still reside at my parent’s house. I have pre-decided that when the time comes there is only one item I would like.

    • Good for you Moni. I am now intrigued a to what that one item is. My family heirlooms are mostly in the form of jewellery which I love and wear so they will be staying.

      • Hi Colleen – it is quite uncharacteristic for me, but the one thing I want is a china tea set that has been passed down thru 5 generations. As I’m the only daughter and my brother has no girlfriend or wife or any children, I’d like it to stay in the family as I have two daughters. Yes I’m anti-china, silver & crystal, but sometimes you make exceptions to be part of something bigger than yourself. Hopefully it won’t be for many years and possibly will be able to hand it straight onto a daughter if she has her own home and the inclination.

  5. This week’s missions will be good ones for me… the adult children’s leftovers are mostly gone, the heirlooms–hmmm, we will need to delve into that quagmire.

    • Hi Willow, I was thinking about you yesterday as I was wearing your cowl scarf. In light of the post coming up on Thursday I was wondering if you would be wondering whether I had discreetly decluttered it. Well I haven’t, it is so handy to wear around the house when I don’t want to turn on the heating. It is the only scarf I have that doesn’t dangle in everything I am doing. Good luck with the quagmire.

      • Well, Colleen, I knew when I gave it to you that you had the right to do what you wanted–it was given with an open hand. However, I know how much I love my cowl and my girls love to wear theirs, so I was mostly confident that you would keep it at least through this winter season. I’m pleased that you like it and wear it 🙂

  6. Hmmm, I don’t have anything in any of those categories left!However, I do feel like the house needs a bit of freshening up in these cold, rainy winter days, so I’m going to move some stuff into the shed (big tub of dressups, tub of Lego, overnight bags) to make the rooms at least LOOK lighter!

    (PS Went to Melbourne with the family on the weekend and even though I was forced, FORCED I tell you! to go to Chadstone I bought nothing. (This is from the woman who spent at least one day a week there from babyhood till my early 30s!!) All I did was meet friends for brunch, and my husband and the kids spent a couple of hours in Intensity or whatever the games area is called).

    • Good for you Loretta, resisting temptation. I hope you had some nice brunch though.

      I understand where you are coming from about trying to freshen up the house during the cold months. We don’t get as cold here but seriously if it ever stopped raining it would be a miracle. I think two weeks of sunshine is the most we have managed to sting together since last October.

    • Loretta, you rock!!! You are sooo my hero! 🙂 Way to resist temptation. I’ve a similar situation on my side of the planet, too (USA).

  7. I think, I’ll turn all these “grown children” missions into “my own childhood” missions. While I don’t have children yet, I still own (too) many keepsakes from my own childhood. Stuffed animals, books, toys and such. I’ll have a look through these this week.

  8. Obligation clutter, uh-oh … I think, I’ll add papers to the mini missions for myself (and probably skip some others in favour of getting rid of the pesky paper … I have sorted papers so often already that I would love to make a real dent this time). A broken part on my washing machine triggered going through all the manuals I had and toss some (I somehow did not think of decluttering the manuals when I decluttered the devices – probably because I did not even think I had a manual for the egg boiler …). Then I borrowed a shredder to get rid of account informations that were up to fifteen years old but I had never taken the time to consider and decide how long you need to keep this kind of stuff and even when I knew I needed to get to it I did not for quite a while because I was scared I could toss something I would still need (and of course I did not want anyone to see these documents, thus the shredder).
    I am sooo relieved that I have finally given in to think it out and act upon it. One folder plus one shoebox of paper went out. But there is more sorting, deciding and hopefully shredding ahead and this time I don’t want to back out of it again.

    • Keep up the good work. It’s nice to have less paper, even though it might not make as much of an impact as say getting rid of a wardrobe, it’s a mental weight that also lifts (esp when you next need a manual etc)

      • Snosie, I already got rid of the wardrobe 😉
        (Well, my boyfriend moved in and brought his that we now share … but living in LONC aka land of no closets, one wardrobe for two people is pretty okay I guess)
        Thanks for cheering! I appreciate it (and you are so right, nobody comes along and says “wow, your folders are thinned out, how cute, it even is one less than it used to be and I reckon the shoebox of papers you hid under the bed is gone, too. Amazing!”. So it is REALLY nice to have someone besides me recognizing the hard work behind these little changes.)

        • A shared wardrobe with my boyfriend would be a goal for me as well, but I’m far from it, as I don’t want to give away mine, which is a 90-year old smallish one. However, maybe we can combine it with a little dresser one day and get rid of his (ugly) wardrobe.

        • Oh, I forgot:
          Congrats on getting rid of that paper!
          For me, paper is the hardest clutter, so I cheer for every single sheet that leaves the house!

        • Ideealistin, AWESOME!!! You said it allright you did!!! “wow, your folders are thinned out, how cute,…”!!!! Here’s a hug and a wonderful pat on your back for getting to the point that you have!!! That is such a huge step and I’m very proud of you! 😉 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Well done Ideealistin. Pace yourself and that paper will be all sorted and reduced even further in no time. It is amazing how little of it we really need and of the ones we should keep how little we ever refer back to. I guess they are one of those Just In Case items that we are stuck with. The best thing is to be realistic about how long and which pieces we really need to keep.

      • One good tip when it comes to manuals: look for it online RIGHT AWAY.
        I found some instructions for IKEA-assembly but other pieces I have are discontinued so I will need to scan those instructions … what a nuisance. Same with technic items (I save the manuals for those in case I ever would like to sell the device or pass it on in other ways, however, I’d like to have all the information in one place on my computer and some of it just can’t be found, so more scanning ahead … later. At the moment I am happy/busy enough with gutting my folders.)

  9. Having a perfectly nice stepmom at one point, who gave me alot of perfectly nice but very not-very-me things, I got over what litle problem I had left of getting rid of gifts. “Sentimental” items are still hard though; those things I felt I should keep (cards, pictures, mementos), and now have kept so long that it’s hard to untangle if I have an attachment to them, or just a whole lot of inertia.

    • Just assess one item at a time Whisper. Ask yourself what real value are they to you, how often do you bother to look at them, will you forget those good time if this reminder item is gone, could you group them together and take a photo or scan them and throw away the originals, do you feel you need the tangible object… Just done one object every now and again and it won’t seem like such an emotional roller coaster. I get out our keepsake box every now and again and go through it, each time I find more things that I am willing to let go of.

      • I have successfully used the trick of taking a photo of something I thought I could not bear to give away, and discovered I didn’t need the thing or the picture. That works well for things, but the paper bits and pictures… A few months ago I did scan the fronts of all the programs for plays and such I’d been keeping for years (which makes a wonderful slideshow screensaver), and last month threw out all my old yearly paper calenders. When I can bring my self to toss, it feels good, at least after I get over the feeling I’m betraying my past self. 🙂

  10. I have this small box of stuff that Mom thinks will have some value. I’ve had the box for ages and it just sits there because I know there isn’t much there worth anything. I have decided to do something about it this week. There are bits and pieces in it that will fit each of this week’s declutter categories. It will feel good to have it all gone.

    • Quite often the value is only sentimental and if that isn’t even the case anymore then why keep it. These sorts of items are often the ones that you feel the most relief once they are gone.

  11. Sentimental clutter – I have kept clothes that fitted my girls when they were 3 and 6 MONTHS old. They are now nearly 13 and 8. I just loved having my babies and I have found it very difficult to let go of the clothes which were representative of those times. However, …. deep breath … they will be more beneficial out in the world than being stuck, however lovingly wrapped, in a suitacase in my loft. So today they left the building! I am proud of myself and I hope you all are too.

    • Well done Kay!

    • Very proud of you Kay.

      • Good for you Kay. I am sure you have plenty of wonderful photos of your little girls when they were that age and that is more important than the clothes themselves. As slow as it seems sometimes they do grow up fast and it always looks faster when you are looking back not forward. Enjoy them!

    • Oh Kay, I’M SOOO PROUD OF YOU!!! I know how big a step that was to take! Bravo girl, you go! Mine are now 7 & 8 (one of each); and the one keepsake I’ve hung onto is now a top for my daughter’s (7) baby doll. My daughter loves when I tell her that she used to be so tiny that she fit into this cute little top! Now she is so happy to let her baby-doll ‘wear’ it! 🙂

  12. Well for me the Wednesday ‘guilt item’ hit home…and lasted all week. It consisted of a designer thing I thought I had to have along with a ton of accessories to glorify it even more. Well, I’m over that (had to go through it to learn my lesson on this one), so I’ve been selling those items and today I finally got rid of the last bit of it (gotta LOVE e-bay).

    Overall I think I have one more thing of ‘guilt item’ to try and sell (not related to a designer thing). So back to the listing and checking and etc that goes along with it.

    Basically it was just a week long event of Wednesdays (kind of like Groundhogs Day – that movie where the day just repeats itself until the lesson is not only LEARNED but executed and lived day to day (or in the case of that cute movie, day over and day over and day over!).