My latest decision making

You might be wondering what could Colleen possibly have left to declutter after three and a half years of downsizing. Well let me tell you, the decision making becomes a lot easier when limited space is immanent.

With only two bedrooms it becomes easy to decide to let go of a few more towels and a couple of pillows. Visitor space is limited therefore catering for them requires less stuff.

With only a single car space and a small lock up cage what used to be stored in our spacious two car garage also needs to be limited. Couple that with no yard to care for and I was able to declutter most of my gardening tools. Leaving only enough to dig around in the odd potted plant. Also as this move is intended to be more permanent we no longer feel it necessary to store the original boxes and packing for our large electrical items. That will make a big gap post moving day.

There a some items of furniture that are too big or just won’t have a place in the new apartment. They are going to my daughter.  These are items that we would have kept under different circumstances.

We also have limited closet space so in future will be storing the winter items in plastic storage bins on high shelving in the laundry. While packing up my winter clothes I decided to declutter a few less-loved items from my closet. Along the same lines I also decluttered a couple of pairs of shoes. One to the thrift shop the other to the bin as they had so little sole left that water was starting to seep through on wet days. I got a good eight years out of those shoes so I have got my money’s worth.

There has also been the odd thing that belonged to the children show up during my move prep. These items have or will soon be returned to them.

I have also been doing a use it up challenge on items in the pantry and fridge. I stock far fewer items in both places these days but still there was a few things that I no longer have a need for now that the kids aren’t living at home. I have been having fun improvising and exploring new recipes to use these items up. has been visited by me several times recently.

My point is that even though many of the items mentioned above have survived the cut in the past there is no space for them in my future. This has made the decision to finally let them go easier. The goal to fit into a smaller dwelling has been my inspiration from the start. However anyone can create their own goals to help them make the decision to let go of items easier. Here are a few to think about…

  1. Having a guest room the is always ready to receive guests.
  2. To clear enough room in a garage where all vehicles can be parked out of the weather. This is better for the car and to lowers insurance premiums.
  3. Wanting your kitchen to be more user friendly.
  4. You have been through the arduous task of sorting out after a lost loved one and don’t want to inflict the same torment on your loved ones.
  5. Simply to make your home less oppressive…

Basically give yourself a greater goal than I might need it someday.

Today’s Mini Mission

Question: Do I need to waste space storing these salad dressings (mixed spices, sauces etc) or could I quickly and easily whip up delicious fresh alternatives when needed from ingredients that I usually stock in my pantry anyway.

Mission: Don’t double stock your pantry. Get on line and find simple easy recipes for spice mixes, salad dressing etc and do a use it up challenge on items you have no need to stock.

Eco Tip for the Day

Keep a jug in your kitchen sink to save the water that would otherwise go to waste when waiting for the hot water to come through. This water can be used as drinking water, to fill the kettle, rinse dishes, water plants, rinse the sink etc.

For a full list of my eco tips so far click here

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

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Continue reading with these posts:

  • Mini Mission ~ Friday 22Dec2017 Declutter a couple of old shabby shoes that you no long choose to use.
  • Mini Mission ~ Thursday 21Dec2017 Declutter your fridge of out of date items or by using up as much as possible before adding more. With the holiday season here you will likely need every inch of spare space.
  • How little we really need Every time I go on a long vacation I am reminded of how little one really needs to live a comfortable and functional lifestyle. My husband and I often stay in Airbnb places when on […]
About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. Good morning everyone. I am often considering our guest room. We might have one guest every 18 months or so. I am sure the space could be better utilized. Usually it ends up being the “catch-all” place until we take things up to the attic, which is finished space, but we don’t really go up there every day. Last night while restacking the Christmas bins, I was able to find some more items that I put in a donation box as well as some other little decorator things that I don’t want anymore. I didn’t make my goal of getting rid of an entire bin, but some is better than none, and I reorganized some of the bins to a more logical system.

    I keep a large water bottle next to the sink that Il fill up with the leftovers from my husband’s work water jug and then I water the plants with that. 🙂

    • Michelle we have a guest room at our condo and it gets used about as much as you say yours does. That’s why we decided that when we bought a house it could be a 2 bedroom because 3 bedrooms obviously isn’t necessary for us. The spare room always became a catch all for us too. When going on vacation or whatever, our suitcases would be laid out on the extra bed for a few weeks.

      Congratulations on sending a few more Christmas decorations that you don’t like or use to the donation pile! I don’t really think we’ll be decorating for Christmas this year. It just doesn’t make sense with our move coming up. I bought a few Christmas printed paper napkins. That may be the exent of it for this year. lol.

    • Hi Michelle, I know exactly what you mean about the guest room Michelle. We have some ideas for the one in our new apartment but until we get in there it is hard to visual what plan will work best for us. It isn’t a very big room but it may need to house my husbands desk and will also be my craft space. At the same time I want it to look pleasant for guests.

      Good job with todays Eco Tip too!

  2. We too are soon moving into a smaller space. Actually, the new house is technically a few more square feet than our current condo but it has one less bedroom. I too have been weeding through items that worked at the condo that will not work at the house, and I’m sure I will do a lot more weeding when it comes time to unpack. In 2013 my goal was to make more use of our public library, and I have done really well by this goal. It has greatly reduced the number of books and dvds that we have bought. It’s very nice to be able to return the item after we are done enjoying it. I’m excited because the new house is less than a half mile from a public library. This will make going to the library even easier!

    • Hi Melissa, we’ll have to compare notes when we both have moved in. Like you I am sure I will have a certain amount of tweaking to do once we are moved in.

      I was about to write that unfortunately my new library, although bigger, is going to be further away than my current little local one. After doing a google directions search I have discovered that it is only further away by 50 metres. I can handle that, especially since I could also visit the art gallery next door while I am at it. I am so going to love living down town.

  3. Hi Melissa – congrats on the upcoming move! I have finally smartened up re: buying books. When a new one comes out that I’m interested in, I wait until the library has it. I check it out and then decide if I want to actually buy it. I did that a couple of weeks ago for a cookbook that I thought my husband might like. He did, so now I’ve ordered a copy for a Christmas gift. Last year I bought him one just by reading the reviews on Amazon. When we opened it up, we realized we would probably never make any of the meals and . . . sad, to say, we haven’t. That book is going in the donation box. I hope all goes well with your move. 🙂

    • Thanks Michelle! I can’t wait until the move. There’s a few things that still have to be done to the house but then we’ll be moving. Yay!

      I do the same thing with cookbooks now, because like you, I discovered that going by reviews online I ended up ordering books I never used. Not only does the library save me a ton of space, but a lot of money too! I don’t know about your library, but ours has a program where they carry free tickets to certain museums. My husband and I use this program a lot and have been able to visit local art museums, the botanical garden, the science center and the zoo all for free! I think the program has saved us atleast $200 this year alone. It’s neat to be able to have a free date night once in awhile.

      When we do move in I will be going through my cookbooks again. I really don’t know how I got so many of them! I’ve been purging them all along, but probably could spare to part with a few more.

      • Hi Michelle and Melissa, I find the flipping through recipes at online recipes sites is mentally the same as flipping through a book so aside from my old family recipe folder I no longer own any cookbooks. I then just put my laptop on the kitchen bench to follow recipes I am trying out. If the recipe works well for us I just bookmark the page.

        • I can understand how online cookbooks work for some people, but they just don’t work for me. I sit infront of a computer all day at work so the amount of time I’m willing to spend online at home is very small. I much prefer a physical cookbook.

  4. Colleen, I think it is wonderful that you are making the move you have been aiming for. I think it is wonderful when you can declutter more because of a move. My goal is to have my “stuff” down to where I can easily move into something smaller. I’m right now looking at my laptop and printer. My printer is old and huge. I no longer use it as much as I did when I was scrapbooking so I am looking into smaller alternatives. I can do a lot with my Kindle Fire so am looking at what I might be able to add to it so I no longer need the laptop. We will see.

    • Hi Deb and thank you. I still get anxious at times wondering if we are making the right move but that is only because I have never bought a house to actually live in before. Buying homes is much less stressful when you don’t have to live there. But then I think of all the wonderful things nearby my new place and I get excited at the prospect. I am about to meet with one of my local 365 readers who lives in an apartment near to mine next Monday. She love her new neighbourhood and I am sure I will too.

      I know what you are saying about your printer. That is one thing I am wonder where ours will fit into the new place. Inevitably it will be going in the guest room but I don’t think I am going to love it there. Like yours it is very bulky. Maybe one day, like you, we will find one that is up for the task but smaller.

      • I so get you on the printer! Ours was huge and when it broke I was thinking oh well, at least we can replace it now with something smaller. Or do without? Go to the copy shop? But the man actually replaced it with something BIGGER. Argh! I like the performance but I hate the thing.

        • I’ve been eyeing our printer too. It is big and I certainly don’t want to move it. But we do have an occasional need to print something out, and I have used quite a bit this year as a scanner. I think for now, its convenience justifies the space it takes up, but that equation should change as our phones take over it’s role.

          I cleaned out my office at school in preparation for turning in my keys this week. I’ve been trying to mostly give away / trash / recycle the stuff in there rather than take it home, but some things hitched a ride and moved into my home desk. Tsk!

          • Hi Rebecca J, I fear you are right, the convenience of having a printer justifies the space it takes up. Running to the copy shop every time we need something printed doesn’t sound very convenient.

        • I can’t imagine going bigger. Ugh! Mine could be used in an office as a shared printer it is so big. Heavy thing too. I can’t wait to get rid of it.

      • Colleen, I think you will really like your new location. One reason I hate to move from where we are is because we are so close to everything but our church. Just a quarter mile from is at the crossroads of two major streets is about everything we need on a regular basis. The bank and the Post Office are just a little further. the same with most of Mom’s doctors. So we are well located and comfortable. It is amazing how having all of that so convenient really helps. Plus you will have a view and so much less to deal with.

        I have seen some smaller printers that do pretty much the same things my old one does. I was really surprised at how far they have come with reducing the size. I’m also going to try to find a wireless one because then I can print from my Kindle. If I can do that then I can do pretty much what I want from my Kindle. I LOVE THAT.

    • Deb J – I think from a further down comment you’re already heading down that path, but my next printer will be a wireless one. A friend had the foresight to have a power point in her hall cupboard and the printer lives in there out of sight. Another friend has a power point and phone plug in her pantry and keeps the docking station for her telephone in there, she has two handsets and just swaps them over as the battery needs re-charging.

      • You friend has a great idea. My mother will have a fit but I hope to eventually get rid of this big desk top and the drawers that hold it up. I would like to have a small cabinet with the printer, paper for it, and any other office stuff in it. All neatly behind closed doors. I see no reason for all this mess now that I am no longer doing so much scrapbooking.

        • We got rid of our desktop (computer and desk) a couple years ago, and it was so wonderful to regain the space. I wondered that we kept it so long. From what I know of you, you’ll be very pleased too!

      • Hi Moni, our printer is wifi and it is great. Aside from the size that is but it is also a scanner and photocopier so comes in very handy. Especially for reducing paper clutter. I know I would rather the printer/scanner than paper clutter any day.

  5. Hi Colleen! I am very happy for you! You are doing two good things at once: moving to a smaller place and decluttering a whole lot more for it! I, for one, think that only the shortage of space can force us to look deeply into some areas of our home for decluttering purposes. As I am eliminating storage places in the house I see that the less space I set for a certain purpose, the more likely I am to have less stuff stored for that (it is so obvious, but it never occurred to me before…) :D.
    Best of luck in your move!

    • Thanks Andréia. Every time you leave a comment lately you mention a realisation that you have just come to. I am glad you are experiencing so many ah ha moments. The clutter must be flying out your door with all this wisdom you are gaining instead.

      • Hi Colleen! I went from a reluctant declutterer to a “do I really need this?” sort of declutterer. So every time I come across something that I am not using, I don’t care about, or that I just kept for “someday reasons”, out the door it goes. I stopped the “I will think about it latter”. I think about it now and decide now.
        I also encouraged my children to donate toys they did not play with anymore. They were a lot more ruthless than I am in donating. Toys I would not consider, that I might have kept, they just ditched without a second look. And I left the box in their full sight for some days before donating. They showed no regrets and there was no retrieving anything back from the box. They just looked and said “that is for those children who are not as lucky as us. Santa is taking these toys to them.” My goal is to reduce the amount of toys, to a point where fit in two big (60 litters) plastic boxes. One in, one out rule.

        • Hi Andréia, you are a fine example of the success of 365lessthings and of how persistence at a difficult task can really pay off in the end. This was not easy for you to begin with but over time you have become a champion declutterer. I am proud of you Andréia. Good for you.

          And well done teaching the boy to donate their toys to others that aren’t so lucky as they. You are doing a good thing.

        • Really impressed with your children’s de-cluttering – all thanks to you!

  6. Another good website if you want to use down your pantry is You list your ingredients and it finds recipes that use them up .

  7. Colleen, I’m really looking forward to your move! 😉 (from a reader’s perspective)
    I also hope that you will have a great time in your new apartment!
    Our decluttering big style has stopped as well, but as you say, there are still things left that get decluttered because certain circumstances change or other things that just aren’t replaced when they break or are used up. I always had a little stack of christmas cards as far as I can remember, but this year I finally ran out and am writing the last few ones along with christmas cards from the thrift store (I love that you can find really cute vintage pieces there) and some handmade ones using only craft supplies at hand. I just write cards to family, but somehow this means 16 cards now nonetheless. Our stationary use-up is slowly coming to an end now, there’s not much left, though we may still have too many pens and pencils.
    My boyfriend is big in decluttering glasses and cups by dropping them at the moment. Oh well, I’d prefer him to drop different ones, but we still have quite a lot of drink ware for our needs, so I don’t really mind the loss.
    The biggest clutter problems now are really maintenance problems, like piling paperwork, piling laundry or piling dirty dishes in busy weeks. I will have to look into how to streamline these three areas more so that piles stay low and I on track most of the time. However, as this is not on top of a too-much-of-everything anymore, but takes place in an otherwise relatively neat household with no shadows of the past lurking in the basement or other dark corners, it takes at most about two to three hours to have everything (and I mean everything) sparkling again. Somehow to know that everything’s in order inside the cupboards and on the shelves makes me a lot more relaxed with that superficial clutter of the last few days. It doesn’t hurt when visitors are coming and there are a few dishes in the sink or a washing mashine running.

    By the way we encountered a problem in the area of “inherited” clutter in an association we are in. The president/chairman (I don’t know the correct word, sorry) got severe health problems and resigned, leaving a big mess for the successors. The folder he passed on is incomplete and obviously he’s not able to find the missing documents in his home office or work office either, which makes me assume that both must be in a hot mess as well. Sadly he wouldn’t take any help, so we will have to deal with that mess of a folder and see what problems that may bring. It’s also sad, because the formerly really good relationship between him and some members suffers, as he is avoiding contact, to avoid questions, while those in charge now of course complain that he left them such a mess and didn’t even have a “catch-all-box” for the association work, which would of course take some work to sort, but at least would be complete.

    • Hi Sanna thanks for the catch up on where you are at with your decluttering. I had to laugh about your glass and cup decluttering. In the house we are in right now all but the bedrooms are tile. Tile is very unforgiving when things get dropped. I had a set of 8 cups for twenty years prior to living here but have broken several of them over the last six. Luckily other people must dislike them as much as my mother-in-law does because we often have the same ones donated to the thrift shop, so I just replace them from there.

      As for the piling items. Why not challenge yourself to keep on top of these things for two weeks no matter how busy you are. Then at the end of the week make an assessment as to whether the effort to keep up is worth it. More effort = less stress, or whether more effort is just too much effort at the time.

      I am sorry to hear about your troubles left behind by the previous president of your association. This is a fine example of how not having a good system for paperwork can cause a lot of bother in the long run.

      • That’s a good idea to assess whether that order is really worth the effort or not. I think, I’ll do that. A new challenge for me! 🙂

        • Sanna, I’m a piler too, but I’ve found something that works for me! I have as few flat surfaces as possible-for example, I don’t have a coffee table or end tables. Instead I have a big fluffy ottoman we put our feet up on, and when I need it to be a coffee table, I keep a flat try to put on it. The tray lives on top of the fridge, which prevents me from piling anything up there. Where flat surfaces are built in, I either put a beautiful easy to clean decoration or a sign that says, “STOP!” etc. The signs are flat and only visible when you come right up to the surface; so they don’t look messy. My family laughed about the signs, and they worked; so I took them off, but if piles start happening again, I put a new sign there. We are a family of pilers; so this has really helped. I finally got everything off the kitchen counters this year and made other places for them, and I love it! This makes cleaning so easy and prevents piles too because the kitchen gets wiped down after every meal, and if someone leaves something there, I say they must not care for it, and they hop quickly! 🙂 Now that we decorated for Christmas, some of the flat spaces opened a bit (the strategically placed wide items no longer there), and someone put one small thing there, then as they day went on, more clutter appeared next to our pretty Christmas decoration, and I couldn’t believe it, but we had a good laugh about how easy it is to snowball once a messy spot begins, and we are aware not to do it…but it takes continual effort once spots open up. Another thing that helps is to have a file cabinet or other container for putting those piles in need of filing; so they are contained and orderly piles in waiting. 🙂 I hope you find a way that helps you.

          • Angela, I’m proud of you. What a great idea to put the signs on the suface too. We aren’t pilers except in one place and that is where we collect things to be taken somewhere. I’m working on changing where that place is. No matter how hard we try we seem to have so much we end up taking to church each week. Different things. That seems to be our worst pile. I have decided to use one of the squares in our Expedit 5 by 5 square bookcase to nicely put things. It looks better than on the kitchen bar.

          • Hi Angela, this is great out of the box thinking to help keep uncluttered. You have come up with a plan that works for you even if others my think it is a little unothodox. I like it.

        • Good for you Sanna and good luck.

    • ooh, sanna – I am just a year behind you – I too have been using up Christmas cards and not buying new ones for the last 3 yrs (I now send very few, mainly elderly relatives and a few housebound ill friends and always include a proper letter of news). This year I will definitely finish them all off. Hurrah!

  8. I would like to downsize since we have more space than we need due to getting rid of lots of stuff through the past couple of years, but my husband wants a garden and fruit trees and that eliminates a lot of choices.

    • Hi marianne, I can understand your husband wanting a garden. I only have a small one in the townhouse we are in right now. I dare say I will miss it a little when I go. I plan on trying to grow the herbs I like in pots on my balcony at the new apartment. I never was very successful growing plants in pots in the past so I am not expecting great results. We are also on the shady side of the building so it remains to be seen whether I will even get enough sun to grow anything much.