My ten essential decluttering tips

  1. Start with the easy stuff then graduate emotionally into the things you may find harder to part with. The enthusiasm gained from purging the easy stuff should spur you on.
  2. Don’t reclutter while you declutter.
  3. Learn from your clutter. Don’t just get rid of it learn from you previous mistakes of acquiring stuff. If you don’t take the time to analyse your mistakes in this area you will soon have a repeat performance and be back to square one.
  4. KISS ~ Keep it simple stupid. There is no need to disrupt your entire house during the process of decluttering. Just select one small area at a time and then move on to another. There is nothing like a trail of disaster to put you off the task altogether. Don’t even think of it as one big mammoth task just think of it as a bunch of little tasks and only concentrate on one at a time.
  5. Do your research and have your strategy planned for how you are going to dispose of your items.
    • Where or how you can donate. (Drop off, pick up, other)
    • Your options for selling (eBay, garage sale, flea market etc)
    • The how, what and where of recycling in your area.
    • Your options for large trash that won’t fit in your curb side bin.
  6. Decide ahead of time where your departure points are going to be so you can quickly transfer the things you are decluttering to these areas and get them out of the way. The more organised the area is that you are working in the less likely you are to get stress out, throw your hands in the air and give up.
  7. Don’t feel obligated to keep things just because someone gave them to you either as a gift, in remembrance or an heirloom. It is your home and you have the right to decide what stays and what goes.
  8. If you can spend hours watching TV, logged on to your computer reading blogs etc, talking on the phone, reading book, magazines or newspapers… then you can surely put aside at least 1 ten minutes a day to declutter. Find a space in your day for that ten minutes and make it a routine.
  9. Have an open mind. If you even think an item may need decluttering it is worth consideration. Sometimes an item appears in our declutter radar but we reject the idea because of one reason or another. Maybe this is because the item has been very useful over the years, maybe because at one point you loved this item, maybe because it holds sentimental value. There is usually a reason it appeared in your radar in the first place so give it some second thought, maybe the time has past when it was useful, loved or held sentiment and now you are just keeping it out of habit.
  10. Unless you have true hoarding tendencies and need to enlist outside help to assist you in making the decision about what is a reasonable level of stuff I would suggest that you decide for yourself what level of possessions is right for you. The only guide you should use to decided when enough decluttering is enough is your own comfort level. There are many variables at play here and only you know what is right for you and you shouldn’t be railroaded into what is reasonable and what isn’t by someone else’s standards.

Today’s Declutter Item

Once again today’s declutter item is in line with the mini missions set for this week. I made this bracelet but have only worn it once or twice.

An unused piece of jewellery


My Gratitude List

  • Something that made be laugh ~ My husbands silly jokes.
  • Something Awesome ~ Miniscule
  • Something to be grateful for ~ My balcony is finally repaired so no more tradesmen waltzing through my house.
  • Something that made me happy ~ Taking it easy today. It only means I will have to do more tomorrow but I am satisfied with that.
  • Something I found fascinating ~ My friend’s grandson’s Lego creations.

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

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About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. This is a great summary of tips – a refresher course so to speak for some of us, and a good guide for those newer to the job. As I read them I kept thinking, yes! THAT is the one I use most! except I had that reaction to every one of them…haha! Thanks for getting these all onto a list that is easy to refer to.

    Mini-mission for today – toiletry item – I already have discarded anything that was “off” and the rest of the things I am steadily using up. The advice you have given on these, to use them for a different purpose if you can’t use them for the intended purpose, has been very helpful. I am using a facewash as a hand cleaner, for instance. It is really good for when I have lotion on my hands that I want to get off; it works better than soap. It almost makes me want to buy more of it when I run out, just for that purpose. Who’d have guessed?

    • It’s still Monday here, I’m not late 🙂

    • Thanks Jo,
      I am glad you liked the list. These tips are scattered all through the last 13 months of my blog post but I think this is the first time I have listed them all together.
      I am also glad you have had success with using things “outside the box” so to speak. I love it outside the box, it is my favourite place to be.

  2. I absolutely love tip number 8 and I apply this to any situation in life.

    We all find time to do the things we really want to (such as watch TV and tweet) but we have to remember that we have choices in every moment of every day.

    I’m afraid the excuse ‘I don’t have time’ pretty much wears thin with me now, because there will nearly always be a window during the day when you are frittering time. That’s great if it’s what you WANT to do, but if you feel you could be tackling something else, then turn off that screen and go ahead and do that decluttering or other ‘should’ job.

    If all else fails you can get up 10 minutes earlier and do it then. Great post with lots of useful hints; thanks !

    • Somewhere I read the statement that, in the end, people really do do what they want no matter what they say. Whenever I’m tempted to say, I don’t have time, I can’t, etc, I remind myself that if it were important enough, I’d make time or find a way for the can’t to turn to can. Ten minutes a day isn’t much at all. I CAN spend ten minutes decluttering.

    • Thanks Mrs Green,
      sometimes we need the advice of #8 for it to sink in that we are constantly making a habit of shirking our responsibilities. There are many reasons we do this but mostly it is a psychological battle we are having with ourselves on several levels 1.) Feeling tired more out of frustration rather than physical exhaustion. 2.) Procrastination because one is afraid to begin because they feel it is a bigger job than it really is. 3.) Not knowing where to begin ~ which is why I always say begin with the easy stuff and don’t bow to the idea that you have to follow a systematic approach. Begin with whatever and wherever makes you feel the most like you are making progress.
      I like your idea of getting up 10 minutes earlier. Have a cuppa to wake you up and dive right in before the rest of the house starts to stir.

  3. Excellent summary of all the highlights of successful decluttering. Good job Colleen.

  4. Well expressed, Colleen.

  5. Great list. I just came from spending the day with a friend who has a bit of a tendency toward hoarding. She and her husband are both bad about hanging on to things and have a chock full 4 bedroom and office and 2 car garage home to prove it. I was trying to help her get a handle on her scrapbook supplies. I wish I could get them to declutter but am happy to just have her start organizing something.

    • Hi Deb J,
      sometime the power of suggestion is the best approach in this situation. Start talking to her about the freedom from stuff you are experiencing as you declutter your home. This way it doesn’t sound judgemental or pushy but puts the seed of thought into her head that this might be a good idea.

      • I’ve tried things like that. It hasn’t worked. But after being friends for almost 40 years I can be blunt. I told her she needed to do something as it was getting to where she can’t open the doors to ANY room because she is embarassed by them. The problem is that she is lazy (her word) and would rather read a book or go shopping. I think that the only way anything will get done is if I go over and help her. So I may have to do that. We will see.

  6. essential

    • Hi Snosie,
      At first I wondered if that was an agreement or a question mark then I thought oh crap have I been spelling things wrong again. Thanks for the hint.

      • Tee hee – I thought it was just really, really condensed praise until I read your reply – and I love your reaction!

  7. Hi Colleen! I was cleaning the walls of the backyard yesterday with a pressure water machine, and I was thinking exactly about a list like this! I totally agree with every item and for someone who is starting it is a good list. If you don’t break a big task in parts, you will likely not do it at all. I read at another blog about a “designated space for everything”. if you don’t have anywhere to put an item, or it is stored somewhere and it has been for years without being used, it is time to let go. Of course sometimes we don’t follow our own advice (that would be me 😀 )

    • Hi Andréia,
      you are following your own advice you just haven’t worked your way to some of those unused items yet. One thing at a time remember, you will get to them in your own good time.

      • You know Colleen I have been thinking about my purchases lately (item 2). I only have been bringing home groceries, consumables (things that are used up – like cleaning products an hygiene products). I feel great because I have been valuing the stuff that comes into the house. And other thing: I am letting go of cracked dishes, not broken but almost there ;-D . I had saved one for 5 years (it was my grandmothers, but she never cared about this one), and today I decided to use it and it had a big crack, so it was about to break. It could break in a three year old little boy’s hands or a one year old. I decided it wouldn’t break in my house. I just tossed it, with all due care, in the reciclying bin. Another thougth: I was looking at my house, the backyard and the garage and thinking how much easier it would be to have my boys’ partys two years ago had the house been decluttered like this. It did make me feel happy. So you telling me I did declutter, reminds me that I did and keeps me going. 😀 😀

        • Hi Andréia,
          I am glad for you. The entire effort would have been a waste of time had you not learned these lessons. They are very easy to miss if you focus on the clutter alone instead of the reasons why it occurred, the reasons why in some cases it keeps coming back and how much better it feels to be clutter free.

  8. Hi Colleen
    I just wanted to tell you how much I love your gratitude lists. I confess that sometime’s I even scroll down just to have a dip into your day instead of reading your post ;P Such a great idea and such interesting sentiments, thanks:)
    pamela xxx

    • Hi Pamela,
      I really ought to keep track of what happens in my day as it happens instead of having to recap in my head at the last minute. Sometimes it is a bit of a scramble to fill out the five things. i like my new format though with five categories. I hope you like it too. I also must admit that some days it can be a struggle to come up with five things especially when the day doesn’t end well. The point of it is to remember to be grateful even in the face of adversity. 😉

  9. An awesome list.

    And this just in from our coorespondent in a small German village, “Under sunny skies (two in a row, lucky for Germany!) Tuesday’s mini-mission has officially been completed! Annabelle reports that two necklaces (ahhh hum, that she only wore a few times and should have never IMPULSED purchased in the first place) are being recycled (aka: on their way to a local thrift store for someone else to enjoy). Ahhhh, such a relief to have them OUT of my possession! What freedom! Now Annabelle, enjoy this sunny day AND DON’T GO SHOPPING!!!! 😉

    • Way to go Annabelle! But if our correspondent in a small Germany village DOES feel the urge to go shopping, she should remember all that CLUTTER coming back to haunt her again. Just a thought from the other side of the ocean. 😀

    • Hi Annabelle,
      are you in training as an on the spot reporter this week. You are doing a fine job I must say. And you make sure you heed your own advice there. 😉 No going shopping, drop the necklaces and run. 😆 The weather has been fabulous here in sunny Newcastle Australia too.

  10. Just watched Miniscule…very cute AND a happy ending 🙂