Mini Mission Monday ~ Why keep things YOU don’t really want.

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.

I guess it is about time again for a set of mini missions based on some of the psychological reasons we hold on to stuff.

Monday – Declutter some aspiration clutter. That is something you hold onto because you aspire to doing something with it. An aspiration that has gone unrealised for a long time.

Tuesday – Declutter something that you only keep out of obligation. These items are usually easy to identify because they are the most annoying.

Wednesday – Declutter something you keep out of financial guilt. Something you spent your hard earned money on that never realised its cost. So you cling on to it in the hope that one day you will finally get your money’s worth out of it or summon up the effort to resell it.

Thursday – Declutter something that you keep for sentimental reasons. Especially if those sentimental reasons are really more obligation than personal value.

Friday – Declutter something that you keep out of cultural habit. There are so many things that people own just because most households have one. The simple fact is that if you have no use for such an item then you don’t need to own one. No matter what others might think about that.

Saturday – Just declutter something that isn’t “you”. It could be another something that matches any of the missions above.

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. Many years ago I spent a stupid amount of money on little blocks of Fimo sculpting clay. Used them maybe twice and found I wasn’t particularly inspired. Still, they’re small and easy to store and I spend a LOT of money on them, and I MIGHT use them someday – I used every excuse in the book to hang onto them. I’m not sure the stuff is even usable after all this time. Today they went. One more albatross set free.

    • Well done Wendy. Did they turn out to be solid as a rock? They are expensive little suckers.

      • I thought they were pretty hard when I bought them, which is partly why I never used them! The community garage sale is coming up this weekend so I’ll be going through more craft stuff this week.

        Stopped in at an antique store a couple of days ago. The owner was away so we left a box with a few things and one piece of the china set we want to sell. If she calls and is willing to come see our stuff I might be able to nail all this week’s categories in one fell swoop. H-O-O-O-R-A-Y.

  2. Oh this should be fun! Cant wait to hear and share these Mini Mission findings!

  3. This should be fun. I too am looking forward to seeing what people come up with. I’m also hoping Mom feels good enough to start working on the things she wants to work on.

    • Hi Deb, the only thing I have decluttered so far this week is a glass serving bowl. It occurred to me that my glass mixing bowls would be enough along with the one cut glass bowl I keep. That was more of a “kept out of habit” declutter than any of this weeks categories though.

      • Good for you Colleen. I think Mom still has a couple of serving bowls and some platters we could get rid of.

  4. Every time I read this blog, it makes me pause and think. Sometimes happy thoughts with what we all have accomplished. Sometimes I just get frustrated with myself and what I have yet to accomplish. There is still so much to be done. Mostly I’ve been feeling disgruntled about projects left undone around the home. What are we waiting for? I took off work half-day on Friday and we had many outdoor tasks planned to be done. It absolutely poured down rain and then last night, snow. Colorado is whacky. I can’t wait to see what everyone does to complete this week’s missions! 🙂

    • Just chip away at it Michelle and you will get there in the end. When I feel like you do I just go and find something to declutter, a task that needs finishing or a project that has been waiting in the wings to accomplish. I feel better once something is done.

  5. I have some aspirational clutter, some T Shirts that Colleen turned into crochet-able strips. I will relinquish these this week.
    I de cluttered the dogs coats last week. They are obligational clutter. The floated around the house, without purpose but kept for the odd occasion until someone decided they needed to wear them.
    This week I’m delivering some kids Fox motorcycle gear to the thrift shop. Yes it was expensive fifteen years ago. Why haven’t I dealt with it sooner? Because it was boxed up in the cubby house,out of sight.
    Friday’s is a hard one I look forward to seeing what others decide to declutter.

    There is an ad on TV at the moment where the husband is extolling the virtues of oats to his wife. Of course the wife already knows about oats. Well , I feel I’m in a similar situation with my husband as he cleans out his various storage spots around the yard. There has been a considerable amount removed by him which I have applauded. I suppose as this blog is frequented more by females than males the explanations and emotions involved by males in parting with their stuff is a mystery. The reason behind my husbands drastic de clutter was the need to repair the house. Most of the items are work related and have no general appeal. I’m glad he is dealing with it now.

    • And that is why I donated the rest of the old t-shirts for rag Wendy because I guessed if you hadn’t done that rug by now you were never going to.

      So is hubby decluttering in a bid to ignore the rest of the work that needs doing around the house or is he decluttering so he feels like he has achieved something and that will spur him on to greater things. Either way, YAY!

  6. For the aspirational I have a shirt that I took apart 10 years ago to use as a pattern. Yep you guessed it, it was never taken out of the bag. Way past time to let it go!

  7. Since it’s the middle of Spring in my part of the world, I’ve been busy decluttering the garden areas of weeds… I decided that in recent years I hadn’t really been keeping up with the weeds very well… I had 5 garden areas that I was responsible for initially… We retired one of them in 2012 when our younger daughter graduated from college, thinking that it would be her parking spot… But I still wasn’t keeping up… So this year, I “weeded” most of our veggie garden area then asked my husband to finish the job & smooth out the dirt, plant grass seed, and retire this area… I really want to be able to keep the 3 remaining areas tidy… If I can’t, next Spring we may see another garden declutter! I love love love gardening AND weeding but I work at a very physical job (massage) 4 days per week… I need to let my body rest on my off days…

    I finally got my winter comforter and duvet cover and extra flannel sheet put away (They had been lingering – clean and folded – on top of my armoire in my bedroom for a few weeks).

    Another hand cream has been left in the Ladies Room of our favorite coffee shop. We finally used up the last of the foaming hand soap refills and I chucked the foam dispenser. I hated that thing – when the pump was pushed down, it had to be manually pulled back up if you wanted another squirt, because the spring was so lackluster. Good riddance!

    My husband is working on further decluttering his bureau top so that he can make use of the special pottery piece we received as a wedding gift 33 years ago & have recently identified the potter for. I have agreed to put his colognes in the linen closet as part of a use it up challenge. We use them as “bathroom fresheners”… It takes a long time to use them up that way but at least they get used…

    I will be reading over the above missions a few times… I am contemplating whether I have any of these types of clutter… I haven’t been able to think of anything in my first 2 readings (other than my old calendar project, which has an “expiration” date, as Moni says)… On the other hand, I am quite forgetful so it may turn out that I have 10 of each category LOL

  8. Hi Peggy, I had a massage today and wondered how they manage to sustain the effort over a 30 minute massage, never mind an hour one. So I am not surprised that you need recuperation time on your days off. And being realistic about those gardens makes sense to me. You can always turn them back into gardens again when you retire.
    Well done with the way you are using up unwanted toiletries too. And that you have your husband in on the act.
    It could be a good thing that nothing springs to mind for this week’s missions. At least then you obviously don’t have some really annoying clutter that is driving you nuts on a regular basis.

  9. A couple of years ago, in an organizing frenzy I purchased a large number of cheap clear plastic ‘shoeboxes’ for storing my craft supplies in place of the cardboard shoeboxes I had always used. In a classic case of ‘you get what you paid for’ these stupid things have been the bane of my existence. It’s nice to be able to see what I have but the tops don’t snap on so any time you move one container the rest of them fall apart. Now as I sort and declutter craft supplies, the survivors get packed into the boxes that previously held slide carousels and those nasty plastic boxes go to the garage sale to be someone else’s nemesis. One major irritation factor decluttered.

    • That sounds like a good decision to me Wendy. Do you wonder why you put up with them for so long. My craft supplies aren’t exactly in the best organisation at the moment, but that is mainly because the idea is to continue reducing them so I make do with whatever containers etc I already have rather than buy new. Unless of course I can upcycle containers like the butter containers that I have been using to organise spools of ribbon and small items. The beauty of them is that if they don’t work out they can go into the recycling bin that they were destined for in the first place. It is much easier to declutter free stuff than stuff that cost money I find.

  10. Oh, the “obligation” items… I am getting rid of a few tops this week that were gifted to me by someone who is meaningless these days. It helped that this person is no longer in my life.

    • Hi Lorena, I don’t allow gifts to clutter up my life whether they were from a loved one or not. People need to realise that the love is not in the object it is in the desire to give. Once the object is received there should be no more expectation.
      I have subverted this issue by making sure all my loved ones know that I would prefer consumable gifts. For mother’s day I got a voucher for a massage.

      • Amen! I always graciously accept the gift and the thoughtfulness and effort they put into selecting it, but if it isn’t something I like or would ever use, I don’t any longer feel obligated to keep it. I still keep the sentiment in my heart though 🙂

  11. It happened! I think I have mentioned several times on 365 that my childhood home is in overdue need of a declutter. All of the mini-missions today reminded me of the categories that I encountered in my parent’s home about a month ago now.
    What happened was 1) there was a family crisis, and 2) it required the house being seriously decluttered.
    My dad put his back out and was unable to walk and was hospitalized for a week and then went to rehab for two weeks. I traveled there to lend a hand for a week. My dad was told he’d be going home with a walker and would need 30″ (about a meter) clearance for all walking areas in the house before he could return home. Most walking areas in the home did not have 30″ clearance.
    A tough conversation with my mom ensued and finally she was inspired to start getting rid of things. She was pretty upset at me from the beginning but she seemed to channel that energy into decluttering by the next day. Long, long story short, we got rid of about a whole dumpster’s worth of furniture and misc. My sister is disabled and pitched in a little bit but mostly it was my elderly mom and I moving furniture, hauling boxes, delivering to the Goodwill and hazardous waste etc. It was a lot of very physical work all while my dad was in the hospital and rehab. We took breaks to spend time with him and then back to decluttering.
    Thankfully by the end of the week there was a noticeable difference in the house and all of the hallways. The most traveled areas have a 30″ wide clearance. There is still more to be done but now I think the ball got rolling a little. I’ve heard of smaller projects they’ve been working on since I left.
    I had the feeling that it would take some kind of crisis to get them started, and it did. It was not an ideal working situation though. Because it was so sudden we didn’t have others we could call on to help and we had to leave some furniture outside because we could not get rid of them and my parents thought they were too good to toss. It also cost me quite a bit of $ because I ordered the dumpster and insisted on paying, not wanting to burden them more. I am a wholehearted proponent of decluttering as you go and over time because then you have a lot more choices about where your stuff goes. When you have to declutter in a hurry or emergency you just have to toss your stuff using the easiest ways. Sometimes pretty expensive and often not the best outcome for lots of the stuff.
    It has taken me several weeks just to write about this experience because I was so exhausted from it I couldn’t even relive it by writing. But after reading all of Colleen’s mini-missions I felt inspired because we truly decluttered many things from all of those categories! Thanks so much for being an inspiration Colleen and all here!

    • Claire – I had wondered if anything had come of your parents situation. Yes unfortunately, it often seems to be a crisis that instigates change. I was wondering if there were any funded organisations that could assist your parents, in New Zealand there are agencies that are attached to the District Health Board that can provide assistance while people rehabilitate, especially as they are elderly and there was criteria put in place for access. It could be worth looking into.

      • Hi Moni!
        Thanks so much for your suggestions! I think that there are probably resources for them but at the time it all happened so suddenly and I needed to just get started on things before I had to leave. I have some friends in the area but they all work full time. In the future if I have a bit of notice I can most likely gather several people to help out happily. I also didn’t know how much my family was going to be willing to part with until we were in the middle of it. In the past I could never get them to part with any furniture. I was happy they could let so much go but then I had the problem of where would it go?! It was mostly all from their damp basement and the first charity to come by was overwhelmed and left all of it. I couldn’t blame them! But I had been counting on it so I had to work out several more ways to get rid of the stuff.
        I have made some notes for the future of the different charity shops in the area and the ones who pick up, what they accept, etc. Your reply here reminded me that I should probably take that a bit further and plan for the next time with details of some more specific resources. Because there will be a “next time”!

    • Hi Claire, thank you for sharing your story with us. I can imagine why you couldn’t write about it for a periods long enough to recover from the experience a little. I imagine that, aside from the exhaustion, there must have been a certain degree of anger lingering inside you for having to deal with the clutter this way. I keep trying to convey the message of decluttering now to both my parents and in-laws before this happens or one is left alone to deal with the stuff. Both have made a start but there is still so much to be done. Your parents were so lucky to have you to help them. Well done you.

      • Hi Colleen!
        Thanks so much! I knew I was doing the right thing by helping them declutter but I got a lot of push back at the start. I don’t know who was more angry! Thankfully there were no cameras to record me muttering under my breath as I hauled dusty piles of stuff that hadn’t been used in eons out to the dumpster. I took out my frustration on the junk while alone outside dumping it. I collected more than six boxes of hazardous waste (bottles, cans, jars, tubes etc.) for the hazardous waste disposal. Boxing that stuff up I got powders on me, stuff leaking, goodness only knows what concoctions I was touching from the 1960s! At one point my finger turned white for several hours from something that spilled on me! My mom also tripped and fell during this and I had some kind of stomach virus that I didn’t even mention because I knew she would shut the whole project down if I said I wasn’t well. Thankfully no permanent damage to anyone. I figure that there are at least several more of these weeks in my future. Now I kind of know what to expect so maybe, maybe the next time will be a little better. Hopefully!

  12. This is a great list, Colleen, thank you! I just started this year in trying to de-clutter and become more minimalist. I am going to print out your weekly list and post it on the fridge to hopefully get my husband on board with getting rid of more items!

  13. Good for you, Claire. I would not be surprised to find that everyone who comes to this site knows someone in a situation like yours and is on their personal declutter mission to avoid the same event unfolding in their own life. Change is so much easier when we embrace it rather than having it forced upon us. Your parents are fortunate to have your support. W

    • Hi Wendy B, I really like your comment “Change is so much easier when we embrace it rather than having it forced upon us.” I had to read it a few times 🙂

    • Thanks Wendy!
      Some day my parents might realize they are fortunate to have a declutterer for a daughter, maybe! They have not moved in so many decades that they do not realize how much stuff they have. Last year I helped empty my uncle’s apartment when he passed away and I moved the year before that. So the amount of work there is to do at their place is shockingly clear to me. I hope that with this small scale declutter we just did they will start to understand how much work there is to do in the future and keep working on it a little at a time now.

  14. I have my item for financial guilt. I have one of those expanding hoses….which I love that they are lightweight & easy to handle. What I don’t love is all the leaking on paved areas. I bought the more expensive hose thinking they would be better right…wrong. added to the drought & water restrictions I decided to get rid of the $40 hose & use one that actually got the water where it would do some good.

  15. Ok, day three & have a cultural item (several pieces actually). I got a juicer when it seemed like everyone I knew was getting one. I haven’t used it at all for 18 months.
    I decided it was better to eat the veggie or fruit instead of throwing so much gunk away that was generated.
    I’ll have to put on my thinking cap for the rest of the items.
    I’m going to have an awesome garage sale thanks to the mini missions. Thanks Colleen for the inspiration.

    • Hi Calla, you wouldn’t be the first 365 reader to declutter a juicer that had barely been used. I used to have a juicer attachment for my kenwood and it hardly got used either. Like you say eating the piece of fruit of veg is better for you and less waste.

  16. Lynn D Rosser

    Nearing 4000. Congratulations. Enjoy following you and your 365 blog.