Moni’s mammoth declutter update – DVD or not to be

As part of my Mammoth Mission I sold my Balinese Dresser and found myself with a heap of DVD’s sitting in boxes on my garage floor.

I should back up and explain that the majority of the DVD’s dated back to my children’s earlier years and at that time in our suburb we had the choice of driving 10 minutes each way to rent a DVD for $15 overnight or buying one from TWH two minutes up the road for $21. Whatever Disney, Pixar or Dreamworks put out, made its way into our home under what seemed like good economics but ultimately ended up jam packed into the Balinese dresser. Now I’m not saying we didn’t get excellent value out of most of the DVD’s – I can recite Lion King ad verbatim – but at the time it never occured to me that one day I was going to want them gone.

In my last update the mission went topsy turvey with my husband wanted the dresser, the bookcase and some other bits and pieces out of the lounge that night. In the weeks that followed my focus had to switch from the contents of the dresser and bookcase to the pile of furniture that had relocated to my garage.

As I found a place for the bookcase, I decided to focus on the DVD’s as they were sitting in boxes, whereas the contents of the bookcase could remain in the bookcase. The dresser couldn’t easily be shifted to my garage so it took up temporary residence in my dining room while it was listed on trademe.

If you read my initial post on this mission, my youngest daughter was quite adamant that we were not going to part with our collection of DVD’s and put up some good arguments to support her stand. Recently I stumbled onto an article about breaking the sentimental attachment to books and although I initially read it with a view to my bookcase, I ended up applying the wisdom to our DVD collection.

Collection is the key word. Rather than viewing our DVD’s as a collection ie. one mass item to defend, we needed to look at them as individual items and decide if we wanted that particular one item or not. Seems obvious? Apparently many collectors trip on this issue. In the first sitting 40-odd DVD’s were boxed to be sent to the upcoming Lionesses Charity Sale, as nobody in the family had enjoyed these particular movies or were of a documentary nature that no one wanted to watch again.

A week or two later (so as not to make my daughter feel too pressured) I asked both of my daughters were there any DVD’s that they’d like to ‘long term borrow’ to their young cousins. We went through the collection one by one and many of the classics such as Bambi, Dumbo, Sleeping Beauty were put on the pile to go to my sis-in-laws (I had asked them beforehand). My younger daughter is free to borrow them back individually if she wants, though I doubt very much that will happen.

The remaining DVD’s are currently being stored into a cupboard and we are debating using rip software to copy onto an external hard drive or to use a filing box and sleeves to condence the remaining collection into something that can easily sit in the TV cabinet.

The rule of thumb for the last couple of years is that we rent movies. We have several rental stores in the area now and the prices are more reasonable, however occasionally there is a movie that you just know you want to watch again and again – a go-to movie for girls night in – or something to entertain a gathering of teens – then we opt to buy it via iTunes. Unfortunately in NZ we can’t purchase TV series via iTunes, so I do have to buy a new season’s DVD each year if there is something we particularly enjoy. Why there is the licensing restriction on TV shows here is beyond me but hopefully that will change in the future.

I will also apply the article by Robyn Devine that I mentioned above it to my book collection. I had a tendency in the past that if I liked a particular author I would collect all their books, even their books I didn’t particularly like, in some sort of honour to the author but its not how I roll these days.

Do any of the 365’ers have a collection of ??? which is your personal weakness?

Does anyone have any thoughts on Robyn’s article?

Can anyone guess what my favourite current TV series is? And what is the family’s favourite TV series is? Hint: Its a ’90’s show.

The Weekend’s Mini Missions

Saturday – Declutter something you rarely or never use these days because it has been superseded by the “latest and greatest(for now)” version.

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.

This Week’s Gratitude List

It is Friday afternoon as I write this and my day has been a bit of a shambles so I am really going to have to focus on the positive in order to remember what I am grateful for this week. It was only a couple of days ago that I was telling my volunteer workmates how fortunate in am in life so it shouldn’t take too much effort to recall why I felt that way.

  1. Having fresh healthy food on my table every day. This good fortune isn’t affordable or even available to everyone on the world.
  2. I am really enjoying the yoga classes that I began a month ago. Having my friend Jenny as company makes it all the more enjoyable.
  3. I am fortunate to have had some good reading material over the last couple of weeks. Mostly on the topic of meditating and mindful awareness which are both good practices.
  4. I am also grateful for daylight savings. It gives my husband and I  that extra daylight in the evening to get out and get some exercise together.
  5. And last but by no means the least, I am continually grateful for how well my son recovered from the brain injury he received two years ago. Just this week I was told that his recovery from such a serious injury is remarkable ~ A very small percentage of people recover to this extent. For this and all those who prayed for him and sent well wishes at the time, I am truly grateful.

Have a great weekend everyone!

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About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. I love the focus on looking at a collection as individual things. For a time in my past, I collected black amethyst glass (black glass that shows purple when held up to a light). The thrill of the hunt got to me as this was long enough ago that I could go through a dozen antique stores before finding one piece — so if I found it, I bought it. When I hit over 100 pieces, and then added kids to the mix, I had to cut back and I realized that my very favorite piece was still the first one, a shiny smooth urn vase. That was a revelation as I was able to purge pieces that were bumpy (by design) or had overlay decorations or were in shapes that did not appeal to me. I slipped up and acquired several of the vases I loved initially in different sizes (living in a huge house so plenty of room for them) but am now in a home 1/4 of the size and have gotten rid of most of the pieces except the original vase I loved, some small bowls and vases that I use to hold things and a set of dessert plates. Not minimalist by any means but certainly progress.

    I think we will soon be following your example with our 600+ CDs. We have a space issue and need to get cracking. But you are also so right to break it in stages — making all those decisions gets so tiring.

    Thanks for the great example you are setting.

    • 600+ CDs … oh Sabrina, I’m glad I am not the only one that has to wrestle down such a monster . I have attacked books, dvds and earbooks over the past years and come to reasonable turns with it (or what seem reasonable to me right now). But I have shyed away from the music collection. Can’t do that forever, I’m afraid.

    • Sabrina – I think you are right, the thrill of the hunt is part what contributed to my collecting books especially. I would scour second hand book stores and trawl Trademe. Interesting thought.

      We had a lot of CDs too but fortunately my kids are of the digital music era which slowed up that avenue. We loaded all our cd’s up to iTunes on our computer and now all we have to do is teach my husband how to use an iPod and we’ll be set.

      • The thrill of the hunt or the joy of gathering something “good” – either way I think these primative instincts, and decades of consumerism marketing, drive our collections to morbidly obese sizes.

  2. Moni, first let me say this is a great post. It really helps us to get past the point of seeing the entire collection rather than the individual items. This is what helped me with my book collection. I have 3 authors now that I still keep their books. Once I can afford to replace those books with Kindle versions I will do so and then share the actual books. I have been thinking of saving my Amazon gift cards at Christmas and buying Mom a Kindle. Then we can share books. If I do that I can basically declutter all the fiction books we have. I would gradually like to declutter the non-fiction ones also. Those will take longer to declutter as we will need to hunt to even see if they are on Kindle. But I have the goal of basically getting rid of as many as we can.

    I think Robyn’s article is great. It can be used for a “collection” of any kind or size. I like what Sabrina said about her collection of black amethyst glass. I did the same with my rabbit collection. I was given one and the next thing I know I got many more from people. I hung on to them for a long time because of who I received them from. Finally I let go of all but the first one and one other that I received from my best friend.

    Have no idea on the TV show as I don’t watch TV.

    Colleen, love the gratitude list. Every time I read about how well Liam is doing I have to praise God. It just gives me goose bumps because he is doing so well. God is so good.

    • Hi Deb J – I have a Kobo and I love it. I bought one for my husband last New Year’s but it was taken over by my youngest daughter who up until then wasn’t interested in reading a book. Now that she is an e-book-worm I suggested a book we have on the shelf but that isn’t available as an e-book. Apparently it is the actual physical book she doesn’t like reading and unless it is on the kobo she’s not going to read it. This is the reverse of what I hear from some adults ie they like to physically hold the book. My older daughter has my original kobo which isn’t a touch screen model.

      I don’t know how well kindle share an account but with kobo you can have up to six e-readers off the one account called an e-library which is on kobo’s site, I can download to my computer if I want to but I prefer this method. So we all feed off the same digital e-library. There are options in the e-library so that if I don’t want a particular book to download onto my daughter’s kobo I can arrange that too.

      I don’t know if kindle has that option but I’d be interested to hear from anyone who is a kindle fan.

      Having an e-reader was a revolutionary step forward for me and I am slowly replacing my absolute favourites onto my kobo. I just tell friends and family that kobo vouchers are my preferred gift. This isn’t as wasteful as it might sound ie replacing books with e-books, as many of my books had been re-read so many times that they were very tatty and worn and I would probably have begun replacing in them with new editions. I re-read my favourites every year you see.

      • Kindles do not have a limit on the number of devices you can have on an account (they must be the same account so there is trust involved). I have 5 kindles and 3 kindle apps on mine and we can all read the books. Some books it depends on the publisher how many devices can have it at the same time but most are 6 or unlimited.

        • Debra F – that’s good to know – the advantage of Kobo is that you can get books from places other than but I understand that kindle e-books only take books from Amazon, is that correct?

          At the outset I went Kobo because they had the anti-glare screens first and it was the lightest at the time. Kobo has just brought out a mini model about the size of a iPod touch which I am super keen to see as I cart my kobo everywhere with me.

          • It seems there is a free software available that helps convert all kinds of e-book-formats. (kindle to epub and vice versa)
            However, I got a kobo myself and like it really much. It is a lovely little thing and with my boyfriend helping me to find easy shortcuts through that format jungle, I’m really quite happy. I still don’t use it exclusively and don’t think I ever will, as you can’t pick up rather recent second hand epubs for just 1€ as you can with paper copies. 😉 (Classics are even cheaper though – nothing beats “free download”) On the other hand, it allows me to read self-written texts and other primarly electronical texts when out and about without having to print them out, which I love.

        • Debra F – just an extra thought in the kobo vs kindle – kobo you don’t have to have a kobo e-reader, you can use whatever brand e-reader, iphone, ipad you want. I use a kobo brand kobo reader as I liked the anti glare screen and the weight of it. My friend has a sony e-reader which does all sorts of other things including photos and playing music but it is a lot heavier.
          I have to admit I have actually considered having a kindle as well as occaisionally there is a book that is on amazon but hasn’t appeared on kobo yet though when it happens they’re not usually too far behind, but patience isn’t my virtue.

  3. One thing to keep in mind about the Kindle–not all books can be shared–in fact, very few can be shared.

  4. As to collections, I realized quite early, that I wouldn’t be able to collect everything I deem beautiful. I always had a love for books, to some extent for music, for pottery and porcelain etc.
    I remember I once saw a documentation about a woman who had a “shop” that consisted of her flat. She continually bought new stuff to her taste and had customers come to her apartment to buy decorative items and the like with which she lived and which she used in the meanwhile. Strange as it sounds, it seemed to have worked. Those customers relied on her “style” and that she would do all the hunting down of fun and individual objects and she got to buy all those “treasures” and live amongst them without ever accumulating masses of them as she continually sold them. I was intrigued by this idea of “temporary ownership”.
    I started swapping and passing on at least parts of my collections (books in particular) on a continuous basis.
    I still have too much of some things, but I still think, I’m on a good way. I still might cry (or be near to crying) over a broken vase if it was one of my “treasures”, but I re-evaluate continually, if something is still a treasure or just part of a “collection”. I don’t buy “fillers” for collections (like disappointing books of favourite authors and such) and get rid of things that became fillers over time quite easily. So, maybe, I am still in some way a “treasure hunter”, but I am no “collector” and think I’ve never really been. I try to get over this attachment to some “treasure” items as well, but that’s another story.

    • Sanna – I like that term “fillers”, yes, I don’t know why I did that, perhaps I was meant to be a librarian. I like the idea of temporary ownership. I have a friend who is a fabulous clothes person. She mostly shops at second hand stores but she only keeps most items for a couple of months at the most. As a bag of clothes comes in, one goes out and because they were so cheap it doesn’t matter. Clothes are her hobby and I do admire her style. I’m more of a buy something I really like but then wear it to death kind of person.

  5. The joy of borrowing rather than owning. Moni’s post reminded me of my once-large book collection. The problem was that I sometimes bought a book and then decided I didn’t really care for it. I had books that I kept for years but never finished reading. But I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of a book that I had purchased and not read. Now I borrow all my books from the library. If I start reading something and don’t like it, I just return it. No guilt at all. I love the freedom that not owning those books brings me.

    • Hi Anita – I have a library card, but until recently we had a 15 minute drive to our nearest library and I had an abysmal habbit of not returning books on time or continuously getting it re-issued because I didn’t want to part with them.

      You have just given me an idea, my daughter has an assignment due next week on the chemical and physical process of manufacturing pvc material ie raincoats, and google seems to be letting us down, I might send her to the library.

  6. AMEN to this:
    “And last but by no means the least, I am continually grateful for how well my son recovered from the brain injury he received two years ago. Just this week I was told that his recovery from such a serious injury is remarkable ~ A very small percentage of people recover to this extent. For this and all those who prayed for him and sent well wishes at the time, I am truly grateful. “

  7. Colleen, I was not aware that you are doing yoga as well! I started this some 9 month ago with a DVD (yes…. DVD…) of Ralf Bauer and meanwhile joined a yoga class as well. I try to start each day with “5 Tibeter”. Yoga is perfect sport & relax for nascent minimalists… isn’t it?

  8. I guess if somebody saw my books, they would consider me a collector. Only I collect the books I love. The ones I enjoy reading again and again (and there are plenty). I loan them out to friends and family but I miss the books when they are gone. There have been times where I’ve wanted to read one particular story only to remember my niece in Memphis, TN has my copy. And it is 11:00 pm on Saturday night.

    And there I am like a drug addict in need of hit. I don’t know if that is just me but there you go. I can purge DVDs and CDs pretty easily. Books I love, not so much. The books I have (and let us not count them) are all “desert island” books.

    Congratulations on getting your family in on the DVD purging. Good luck with the books!

    • Rachael W – only a true book lover would understand your feelings exactly. I’ll suddenly get an inclination late in the evening to re-read something in particular and that is my idea of recreation. And if I hear a new installment is due out on a series of books, then I have to re-read the whole series again. Just because I want to.

      I was sort of like a library of good books to my friends & family, now that I have a kobo my books are always with me but I can’t obviously lend out a good book if it is in digital form. Having said that I kind of got the impression towards the end that everyone just waited until I got the book so they could borrow it after I read it, because they were complaining the other day that they had to buy their own or wait until it came available in the library. If technology hadn’t of invented e-readers, I would still have many of my favourites and probably wouldn’t have budged on the issue.

      • I have so done the re-reading a whole series in preparation for the next installment.

        Nobody waits for me to get a book so they can borrow it. Most of the people in my life are equally voracious readers so there is pretty constant swapping going on between us. Food and books: that’s how we show our love. LOL. I don’t currently have an e-reader (did have one but…long story). And I rarely found myself reaching for it. Maybe one day I’ll be partially converted to e-books. For now I just haven’t managed it.

        • Rachel W – you are true book worm! I got all in a bit of a tizz recently because not one but three books from different series were coming out within a week, boy that was some fast reading!

  9. Thanks for this and for the link which I have just read. I will try the approach of considering a collection as being individual items – far less daunting. In our case it is mainly CDs.

  10. We, as well, have a DVD collection. I opted years ago to go with a sleeve/zippered case. I got tired of them taking up so much room. At the time, because our children were younger, we were buying them a lot. Now we rent movies as well, and only on rare occasion, do we buy a DVD or actually go see a movie in the theater. I can say though, that the movies we have bought over the years, have definitely gotten a lot of use. Good luck on figuring out which system works best for you.

    I enjoyed the article by Robyn. I have always loved reading, but life sometimes gets in the way, and my ability to get a lot of reading done comes and goes. I have set a goal with my reading so that I can rid myself of that clutter too, and for now it seems to be working. I did in the past, keep books from my favorite authors because I loved them so much. I rarely ever read a book more than once though, so I let go of the ones I was collecting, and now when I am done with any book, I pass it on right away.

    Colleen, so glad that your son is doing well.

  11. Wonderful news regarding your boy Colleen! We take for granted what we can do, but when it is taken away or jeopardized, then we appreciate its value so much more.
    Congrats Moni! Will be expecting photo updates soon! I had to google 90’s TV shows, the list was long. My family used to love Hercules and Xena, which were filmed in New Zealand , of course!
    I have an ipad, which I can download most of my favorite House magazines, books etc onto and take anywhere. Because there is no time limit to purchasing such items, most hardcopy House magazines are sold monthly, I am less inclined to feel I need to”collect” them.

    • Wendy F – I’d forgotten about Hercules and Xena, but no it is an American sitcom and and the main character has gone onto have a very successful film career.

      We can’t download magazines here yet, but its coming. My guess is that because NZ is major producer of paper pulp its in the countries best interest to keep using paper.

      • 21 jump street? Do you also have a crush on Johnny Depp… oh no wait, that was not a sitcom. I know I know, its the prince of Bel Air. I have this crush on Will Smith too 😉

        • Lena – OMG yes I remember 21 Jump Street and wasn’t he just a hottie!

          Yes Fresh Prince of Bel Air is the family favourite, if there’s a bad weather weekend or over the holiday break its a guaranteed crowd pleaser. And it is such a laugh seeing the fashions.

          We have other favourites, but I can only think of one or two other series currently on tv that we all enjoy, aside from that, there are other series where a few of us are fans but not the others in the house.

  12. Moni, excellent post. this is amazing. I never really thought about “the collection as one item” vs “a collection of many items”. that indeed makes a difference. to be honest I never fully understood the purpose of collecting things, for me that has a fetish taste to it… Except for music, and I am proud that I got that one under control. I will never ever get things in, just for collections sake. it needs to be used or loved, nothing more and nothing less.
    My mum though has a collection of champagne glasses, the collection grew until she said stop to everyone. I guess we have around 50 now… crazy really. but accidental decluttering will take care of that one. now she collects antique walking sticks. She made a start with few inherited ones, and her friends who love to go to antique markets are always getting her new ones. I actually like that collection of sticks as she has some seriously cool ones (like a long shotglass inside the stick, or a compass in the head, or all sorts of animal heads) and whenever someone, like a theater group needs one for requisites, she lends them out. I guess that one day she will stop that one too…

    Colleen, I am glad, Liam recovered so well. you are a blessed family and I love the fact that you are so very aware of the luck you are experiencing.

    Another thing that I need to mention: you know my friends kitchen I have been declutter-fantasizing about? Today he asked me to help him declutter the pantry. we had a conversation about rotten food the other day and he mentioned that their pantry might need a closer look to it. and when I offered (not for the first time) that I would help immediately, including cleaning and getting rid of the excess, I was allowed in today. We had so much fun doing that, and he said that whenever we have time on our hands, we will get our hands on other areas. yay – their place is heaven for me…

    • Lena – I’m glad you’ve finally got to do your friend’s pantry.

      I am fascinated with the idea of a stick collection and can’t picture how these ones you have described would look like.

      Hey did you watch The Dukes of Haszard back in the day too?

  13. Good ideas, all of them. From garage sales & thrift shops it is easy to get caught up in collections. Most stuff doesn’t appeal to me, but old items–especially if handmade–not necessarily antique, were a temptation. Early on though I read that “three is a collection” so if you de-clutter or de-own to three you still have your collection. So that could be a temporary solution. I doubt if I have 3 of anything anymore. I was struck by the statement that the first item acquired remained her favorite. I think that was true in my case, too. The idea of a “collection” makes a person acquire items that would not have been considered except as an addition to the collection. Also there is the very real danger of receiving more–not necessarily to your taste–as gifts. So the idea of forgetting the collection and considering each item by itself is great. Books are a problem, and after finding out the library no longer has books of several favorite authors, I guess I will hang on to those books, since I do reread them. Photos are the absolute hardest thing for me to de-own though.

    • Nana – my mum was really buzzed over a gift of an ornamental elephant once upon a time and ever since everyone has gifted her with more ornamental elephants, pictures of elephants, soft toy elephants etc etc and she is totally over elephants. Its this mish-mash collection of elephants, everyone meant well and possibly thought it was a guaranteed successful gift idea for her, but I feel that items that are going to be on display should be the home owners preference as everyone has their own taste.

      Interesting idea that 3 is a collection. I’m going to give that idea a lot more thought.

  14. Wonderful to hear of your progress Moni!
    I was just talking to a friend about CD’s & DVD’s (as well as albums, 8-tracks, cassettes, VHS tapes, etc) & he said he long since got rid of them all & only stores his movie & song collection via digitally.
    He was actually kinda surprised to hear that folks still keep actual discs laying around. I asked what about his kids & he said they have been dvd-free as well since they got Apple TV & have streaming movies (Netflix) & said his kids can’t understand why the grandparents keep actual DVD’s in their own home other than…..get this….to remind them of the old days. bwhahaha!

    • Jane – there is nothing like the younger generation to make us feel like fossils. I think they’re very fortunate to grow up in the digital age because they won’t have to deal with photo albums, cd’s, dvd’s etc.

      We have a tivo for recording stuff off tv which works really well for us, I haven’t looked into Apple TV yet – I have heard about it but don’t really know what it does.

      • Moni, I’ve had a Mac computer before it the hip thing to do, but I still have no idea what Apple TV does. We almost bought one but then realized we would be buying it for no valid reason.
        By the way, my fav TV show growing up was The Love Boat.
        Lately, the husband & I have been watching old episodes of The Rockford Files on Netflix. So fun!

        • Jane – oh I’m so glad I’m not the only one who isn’t i-up-to-the-minute!
          I remember The Love Boat! Recently the theme music (“Believe it or not I’m walking on air”) from The Greatest American Hero was used in an ad over here, our kids couldn’t get how we knew the words straight off.

          • Years & years ago, I walked by the guy from GAM (I believe his name was William Katt) when I was meandering through a airport waiting for my connecting flight. Anyways, as I’m walking towards him & I realized who he was the best I could muster was “Hey how’s it going” & kept on walking before he could answer because I’m so cool & sauve like that. LOL

        • Jane you are just too cool for school!

  15. I guess I’ve never thought of myself as a collector but I think the collection/item point of view made kind of starts to change my thinking. I do have an emotional attachment to books as physical items. To begin with, I love bookstores: seeing books, feeling books, leafing through books, yes, smelling books – even in countries where I can’t understand a word -in- the books! (for example, Taiwan) I do have an emotional attachment to my “collection” of mostly Indian women’s writing (Jhumpa Lahiri, Manju Kapur,…) and other books about and around India (for example) and I do think that I view them as a kind of a collection. They are a kind of symbol for what I think of as “me” and “my interests”, what I enjoy and love, what I’d like to be and enjoy and love if I had all the time in the world and didn’t have -too- many interests! My bookshelf gives the impression that I’m a keen cook and crafter… not! (I need to declutter some of my interests and the clutter attached to them!) When I visit people, I’m always drawn to their bookselves. My “collection” also reminds me of India, and the many travels and friends there. They lend me a piece in the lifelong puzzle of identity, security, stability, love? Actually, I have relatively few books, I try to prefer the library, but even the books that I have are squabbling for space on my small, ready-to-sigh-and-collapse bookshelf. I haven’t even read some of the books, many of the books, I have to admit – even in my “collections”! (And some of my books are in dusty boxes in the basement. *shame*) I’ve given away many books outside “the collections” – and in the basement! – and that may be the way to go for me. But trying to look at the books as (physical) items (that I do love) instead of a “collection” or a symbol of “me” (that I am harboring in my mind) helps me. As much joy as my books give me, a warm and fuzzy feeling, the sight of those unread, untouched, and yes, dusty, books makes me feel a bit of guilt and sadness too – and let’s remember the shame lurking in the basement! Or spending the money, and not reading, using the book. Because I do feel books should be read and enjoyed and worked and travelled with, books should create joy, thoughts, … They need loving hands and curious eyes to breathe and be truly alive.

    • Mari, you have raised an interesting point about having books about subjects that we don’t actually have an active involvement with. I recently discovered I had a Yates Garden Guide which is bizarre as I do not have a green thumb, I have a toxic black thumb so no vege patch, fruit trees or herb garden here. I had a copy of Toddler Tamer, whereas all my kids are teenagers and a book on mountain safety skills, which I have no idea why on earth I would have (or where it had come from) as I don’t live near the mountains and I’m not the hiking or mountain climbing or anything remotely outdoorsey type at all.

      I think, as book lovers, our books are almost like pets and we want them to go to good homes and be enjoyed as much as we enjoyed them. Recently I had a set of the Heidi books that I knew probably wouldn’t sell in a hurry if I listed them on Trademe, and if they did, they probably would go for very little. I decided to list them on Freecycle and see what happened. I had nearly a dozen requests and each had their own reason why they would love to re-read the books, whether for themselves or children, grandchildren etc. As I got to pick the recipient I found this was quite a nice way to find someone who really did want them.
      We recently found yet another box of books in the ceiling storage, which I will be working thru in the near future, and I will probably use this method again if there are books which I feel a bit disloyal sending to the charity 2nd hand book sale.

  16. Hmmmm, I was once visiting the home of someone who I knew only slightly as a social acquaintance and could see that the walls of their lounge were lined with shelves of DVDs. She proudly told me that she owned over 500. My immediate reaction was to want to know why, but my mother raised me to be polite. Now, I like a movie as much as the next person but struggle to think that anyone could have so many favourite movies they wanted to keep at home for repeated viewing.

    On the subject of collections, this is a common problem. A friend of a friend purchased, separately, two kitsch ceramic wall-vases secondhand. Because they amused her. She displayed them on her lounge wall. Family and friends saw them. Because there were two, and they were not a pair, it was obvious (but untrue) that this was A Collection.

    That poor woman received kitsch wall-vases from everyone who knew her on every possible gifting occasion for the next several years. She dutifully displayed them, getting more and more irritated, until she finally cracked and decluttered every last one of them.

    I have also come across owl and frog trinket-infested homes where things started as innocently.

    • GreyQueen – I think what happens is that it can be very difficult to buy a gift for an adult, and others around them pounce when they see how delighted the person was with the original elephant/owl/frog/etc and think they’re onto a winner of an idea.

      I read an article recently, but unfortunately the copy and paste of the link was lost due to an unexpected power outage, but it had findings that people found an experience a more memoriable gift than an item. Experience could be a restaurant voucher or as exciting as say a hot air balloon ride or anything in between. My kids ask for vouchers to iTunes, favourite stores, phone credit etc but I’m thinking it might be fun to think of something they would enjoy doing.

  17. I recently just finished selling of my magic DVDs & tricks collection.

    I am a self taught magician, mainly through DVDs.

    When clearing through my collection, I didn’t realise at the time, but I was using the individual item idea mentioned in this article. And it took me a long time to get rid of them because I viewed as a collection, also as mentioned.

    Thanks for helping me to understand myself better.

    One element that I definitely found helpful was writing a list of this individual items. This helped in multiple ways: it separated them into individual items; it was a way of counting the size of the declutter (550 items – I was a little obsessed); it helped in the selling process (to other magicians, through Facebook/email groups & eBay); and it really helped with tracking my progress as I got to cross off the items as they were decluttered. It was great to watch it dwindle this way.

    Thanks again for a great article.

    • Hi Mark – this idea on collections was an eye opener for me too, I was so happy to have stumbled on Robyn Devine’s article. The right information always seems to pop up at the right time. I noticed quickly that our “collection” actually had a number of sub-categories ie early Disney Classics, modern Disney cartoons, Pixar animated movies etc and almost without fail a whole sub-category was culled from the collection.

      I love crossing things off lists, if I have my to-do list beside my bed when I wake up in the morning I get a lot done but if I don’t, its a wishy washy day. I even go back and add extra items to my to-do list even if they have already been done just for the satisifaction of crossing them off! Weird I know!

      • I too have noticed the sub-categories in my collections. And agree that culling certain sub categories helps. This has definitely been true of my books and my DVDs.

        In regard to to-do lists, I am in two minds. I like them at times, as mentioned above. But I have to be careful that they don’t become too big and overwhelming. I have had the habit of collecting lists of to-do lists. Not a good collection to have. Very tough for the mental clutter.

        • Mark – when my grandmother passed away we discovered she had dozens and dozens of notebooks of to do lists with items crossed off, we’re not sure why she kept the collection of notebooks, maybe it gave her a sense of accomplishment or maybe it is some sort of genetic leaning to collections and list writing.

          • I had a bunch of electronic ones and realized that many of them weren’t important so I purged them all. It was so nice letting them all go.

            I still have a bunch of books with lists and project ideas and will eventually work my way through them to devise if they’re important. I know many of them will just be purged, and I look forward to the relief that comes from that purging.

  18. Hi colleen..this is the first time i leave a comment,just want to let you know im the big fan of your blog since long time ago(since you counting the days of declutter)..however i stopped reading your blog coz something that maybe consider silly for many people. There’s two times i found you attach snake pictures in your posts that made me throwed my tablet and asked my husband to close it,silly huh..yup i have phobia about it,and just see the picture enough to make me shaking…..but today..i decide starting to read your blog again,.how i wish i can browse to older articles and read all of them , but i am just too scare to find that kind of pictures again…haha…

    • Hi Nola and thank you so much for your comment. I am very pleased you have come forward to introduce yourself at last. I am so sorry that those pictures you mentioned (I am not even going to say the S word) frightened you so. You are not alone in this sort of phobia. I promise I will avoid that kind of photo in the future. If you would like to look back through the archives here are the dates to avoid ~ July 23 2011 and June 23 2012.

      I hope you will stick with a now and join in with the commenting on a regular basis.

  19. Sanna – I have a couple of friends who have talked about converting software but I haven’t gone any further with the idea. The frustration I have is that some books have licensing restrictions outside the USA for English versions. It has gotten a lot better over the last two years but there is still some that haven’t come available yet, so I just keep reminding the kobo help desk that I’d love to read whatever it is and they keep telling me that they’ll refer it to their acquisition team.

  20. Moni…this puts EVERYTHING in perspective…the rest, it’s all STUFF!
    May God continue to bless you and your ‘ohana (family) 🙂

    “And last but by no means the least, I am continually grateful for how well my son recovered from the brain injury he received two years ago. Just this week I was told that his recovery from such a serious injury is remarkable ~ A very small percentage of people recover to this extent. For this and all those who prayed for him and sent well wishes at the time, I am truly grateful. “

  21. My home contents insurance has a limit to the dollar amount you can claim as general before it becomes a “collection” and has to be listed (and paid for) separately. When I found that out I was surprised at how many collections I actually have.