One readers decluttering success story

With Andréia’s permission I am sharing with you today an edited excerpt from an email she sent me last week. I know how you all love to read about your fellow declutterers successes. Last week Andréia had reason to appreciating what difference she had made in her home over the last three years. Since these improvements take place over time it sometimes isn’t so clearly obvious how much difference we have made until an event happens that brings things into clear perspective. So without further adieu here is Andréia’s story.

Last Saturday I had a party at my house. My two kids’ joint birthday party and I decided to do a small gathering of family and friends. It was tiresome, because, even though I had someone to help me clean, there is the cooking and last minute details that all parties entail. But that is not the point of my story.

As I was welcoming two friends, that arrived early to give me some help (putting up balloons putting some dishes away…), they said it was all great and were glad the bigger things were ready. I looked at them and said: “Oh girls where were you four years ago?”. They looked puzzled  and I said that four years ago, at my oldest’s first birthday party, I was overwhelmed with shuffling stuff around the house. This time around all I had to was make food with a lot of help from the family.  I had a very busy Friday but I was not so overwhelmed as I had been last time around when I did not cook (bought everything ready) but had three days dedicated to just cleaning and putting stuff away because my home was so cluttered and disorganised.

This time as I was walking around putting stuff away before the party I was so pleased to know that whatever I was putting away was staying away because it was in its proper place. No cramming, no hiding stuff that would flow right back into the house afterwards, just getting it tidied up like a NORMAL house. No rooms that were “No go zones”, “Forbidden entrance because this-is-where-I-threw-all-the-stuff-people-were-not-supposed-to-see”, “Clutter spaces”, nothing like this…

…All in all I am writing to you to say that I am a very happy with my progress so far.

Well done Andréia. I am so glad you have had this occasion to help you realise the fruits of your labour. How wonderful! And for any of you who feel like you are getting nowhere, you may be surprised at the slow but sure difference you are making.

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter some craft materials that you are unlikely to use. This will not only reduce your clutter but also make it easy to find the good stuff you intend to use.

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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.
  • Mini Mission ~ Wednesday 20Dec2017 Declutter by recycling some items. That mound ofused takeout containers, old newspapers and magazines, paperwork that needs shredding, glass jars you set aside in case you have a use for […]
About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. Good for you Andreia!! Doesn’t it feel wonderful?! I’m so glad your friend could tell something was different. Way to go girl!!

    • Hi Deb J! Just to clarify, I had not met these two friends 4 years ago. They have seen my house a little more cluttered and messy than it is today, but they had not seen what a awful cluttered place I had 4 years ago…The question I asked them was a rhetorical one, as to were where they 4 years ago when I needed a lot more help. Thank you for all your encouragement! I have made more and more progress and I am very pleased that I am seeing the results in my everyday life.

  2. Truly fantastic! Congratulations Andreia! I still have some “don’t want people to see that” zones. LOL I’m working on it though. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • Hi Michelle! I think we all have some places in our house that need more attention than others. I have some places that are still cluttered and that I have not managed to leave spotless. But as I have learned it is an ongoing project. The party was an eyeopener for me. It made me realize (finally!!! 😀 ) how far I had really come. I love socializing, but I did not know how much until I was free to ask people to drop at my house whenever…I am glad that I can help! Good luck!

  3. Hooray andreia!
    Having the feeling People could look everywhere is great, isn’t it? Not that I have reached this State yet but the areas that are okay are growing. I try to apply this to Inside cabinets As well. Would I Be embarrassed if someone opened it? Not tthat I want People to rummage through my stuff but I like the thought that they could.

    • Hi Ideealistin! I still have my dark corners too! 😀 😀 😀 As I said above, it is an ongoing project. It is like after the party I relaxed. I finally said “Hey, it is working!!! Decluttering is happening and my house looks great.” I think that when we declutter and organize cabinets, wardrobes and closets we don’t really care about people or what they will think.We are doing it to open that place and feel good. I believe this, because I have been going through clothing since January. And the good feeling I had of looking at a tidy organized closet is all for me (but I did show my friends how nice it looked 😀 😀 😀 ). I am not saying it is easy, but it will worth it in the end (I am working on it… :D).

  4. Andreia, Good for you. I know you are feeling great. I’m not there yet, still have lots of places that have clutter but making progress. I’ve only been in this program about 1 year so hope by year 3 (where you are) that I will have a much emptier house. Last fall I wanted to have some friends over so had a picnic in the backyard. The basement (my husband’s domain) was really clean and we have a basement bathroom so no one had to come in the main part of the house. It was fun and we had a very good time. But next time, I want to have a party where guests can be inside if they want.

    • Hi Maggie! I am sure you will attain your goal way before you imagine. The key for success is consistence, as Colleen wisely says. Even if you organize one shelf, a tiny corner, declutter one item, at a time, you will see results after a while. It was not easy for me to see those results. Hang in there and keep up the good work and soon enough you will have your house the way you aim.

  5. Thank you for sharing your story Andreia. To be able to experience the same event ‘before’ and ‘after’ puts all your decluttering into perspective. Great stuff!

    • Hi Wendy F! Yes, I think perspective was what was missing in my approach and what left me so amazed. Thanks!

  6. Well done Andreia! Adrian used to have this habit of telling me around lunch time Saturday that he’d invited guests earlier in the week which sent me into an absolute tailspin, full nervous breakdown. Stuff would get hiffed into cupboards, I’d throw myself against the cupboard door to get them shut and hope like hell that it didn’t burst open, frantically shoving stuff into baskets and thrown out in the garage, hoping like hang that they didn’t go out there. Baskets of unfolded washing – it was the end of the week afterall – stacked in my room – and hoping like anything they didn’t ask for a tour of the house. Stressing because I hadn’t done the groceries and stressing because I was cateringly challenged. Eventually Adrian learnt that springing such a surprise wasn’t a good idea in general and if he wanted guests then he’d have spend the day helping me to tidy and clean and shop and cook and keep handing me glasses of wine to soothe my nervous state.

    On Thursday about 10pm he mentioned that he’d invited someone for dinner on Saturday and without missing a beat asked if he’d like a Moroccan dish or something like Italian pesto chicken. (BTW He chose Moroccan – I finally overcame my Cateringly Challenged title this year) I had a quick flick thru the recipe but knew I had most of the ingredients because my pantry is better stocked for cooking from scratch these days and I’ve learnt to improvise quite confidently (and all this happened since Jan 1st of this year), he asked me did I need a hand with anything today as he is working and apart from a quick vacuum and dust, things are looking pretty good, nothing I can’t manage.

    Of course, the garage could do with a little bit of a trick up as “Decluttering Depot” has been working hard this week but I don’t mind this being a conversation piece.

    Yes, life has changed for the good.

    • Hi Moni! Guests? I could never, ever have guests without a 3 day advance!!!! Yes, I totally relate to you. However my husband never was one to like guests so he didn’t spring these “surprises” at me. I was the one who had relatives coming over. It was always nightmarish. Same story as yours. When I was having the party, 4 years ago, the guests were arriving and I had not finished putting stuff away!!! And to this day I can’t recall what was all that stuff I kept putting “away”… And congratulations on overcoming your Cateringly Challenge title! 😀 I am sure it must be great to be able to cook those exotic recipes (Moroccan Food? Is it exotic or I am just being prejudiced??? 😀 ). Don’t mind about the Garage. We all have our spots to place stuff before it walks out of the house. My garage serves this purpose for outside stuff and my closet for inside stuff. We will get there in the end! 😉

      • Andreia – ironically we did all end up in the garage as that is where Courtney’s digital piano is and she has a couple of songs our guests wanted to hear. As I said, it was a good conversation piece.

        • Moni, at least you were not ashamed and could tell everyone of your remarkable progress. 😉

          • Andreia – one of our guests is actually the lady who inspired me to start decluttering/minimalise so there was a part of me that would have loved the garage to be fabulous too, but we’d had a big week sorting stuff – most had already left, but some is awaiting sale or collection and it was kinda cool to tell her my plans and know that she could understand the process. The rest of the house looked great (if I may say so myself) and she commented on how large and roomy the rooms look now. It occured to me, that she probably used to think we were pack rats or hoarders!

    • GracefromBrazil

      Fantastic Moni, I need to work on my reaction, not so much for having the house in order (thanks to 365less things) but the well stocked pantry for whipping up lovely dinners. Good for you! You have challenged me to think about 3 or 4 meals to have handy for guests. Great idea.

      • Grace from Brazil – yes that’s my strategy, it takes all the panic and stress out of it (that’s how us Kitchen Challenged people deal with dinner guests) – I have even gone so far as to work out a time-line of what needs to be done by what time and what can be prepared in advance. Entertaining For Dummies I know but it works for me.

  7. Andreia, that is so inspiring! A huge accomplishment, one thing at a time. I hope to be there some day (soon). Hearing your story reminds me to keep going.

    • Hi Jo H.! You will get there. We have to change habits and if you are already worked on your goals you will see results, just as I did.

  8. This is awesome, Andreia, way to go! I used to dread having people come over and would always want to be told ahead of time, plenty of time, if they were coming. How much easier it is now that so much stuff has been cleared out. There is less to deal with, move and shuffle around, and less to clean. Now people stop in a moment’s notice, with or without letting me know, and that is fine. I takes all of ten minutes or so to spruce things up to where I feel that it is good to go. It takes longer than that for a thorough cleaning obviously, but tidying up takes no time at all these days.

    I have been a little frustrated lately as I have started a new job, so I have not been able to devote the amount of time I would like on my continual decluttering goals. Of course that does not mean that I am giving up, it will just take longer than I would like it to. This story just lets me know that since it didn’t get cluttered overnight, then it will take more than overnight to get to where I want to be. I did have a decluttering opportunity that landed practically in my lap today. A coworker is in need of clothing since losing weight. I offered to look through my things and I think that will be the push I need to get rid of even more. On the flip side, I found it interesting when talking with another person today as we were talking about our children. This person informed me that their grown child was a minimalist and can pack just about everything he owns in one bag. I am not a minimalist, but would certainly like to live with considerably less than I already live with. I just thought that it was so refreshing that people who embrace change will find the happy medium that works for them as an individual,and will be better for it.

    • Hi Jen! Your comment was a reflection of what I have been thinking and living for a while. It still amazes me that a quick tidying up takes 30 minutes all over the house, whereas, before, I wouldn’t even know where to start. As for the pace of decluttering x demands of our daily life, I was struggling with the same issue myself prior to the party. I was a little obsessed, thinking that whatever I was doing was not enough, that I had to get my house perfect now. Colleen was a great help, telling me to take it easy and appreciating what I had done so far. But I had to do some decluttering of big items and I had to see myself tidying up a house in 1 hour, for a party, to realize things had happened to me. I think that we don’t need to be able to pack all of our possessions into a bag to be happy or to be a minimalist. I agree with you that we have to find our ideal as an individual to feel happy.

  9. GracefromBrazil

    Andreia, What great perspective you have been able to have! Congratulations! Living more simply just has benefits all the way around. Good for you. Parabens!

    • Obrigada, GracefromBrazil! I discovered after the party that I was way more happy with the life I had decided to lead.

  10. Congratulations, Andreia!

    I think everyone into decluttering will notice that keeping things clean and in order is getting better after a while (how good that “better” is can only be validated by knowing the before state. Even if things might not be perfect at some houses by now they are probably far better than when additional clutter had been around, too)
    It’s great that this has proved true to you this week and that you shared with us all. Thanks a lot.
    I’m motivated to start the week’s cleaning and tidying! 😀

  11. Huge Congratulations Andreia,
    Fantastic effort all round. So pleased for you. I was much the same, to this day I keep asking myself, WHY??? did I let myself get into such a circle of frenzy!!!

    I have a friend who thinks she is the best housekeeper, kind of a 1950’s Super Everything. Ha!!! Imagine my delight when I discovered she has many cluttery secrets. I laugh in friendly jest but it sure makes me feel 100% better knowing I can whip around in under half an hour whilst she spends the whole weekend ‘cleaning’. I thank everyone here and on other sites and books that I have read that helped me realise I just needed to START and that I wasn;t the only housewife to have clutter issues or be disorganised, however slightly,!! Just starting can be hard but it gets so much easier!!

    I’m so happy for you now you’re at your special place in your journey. Well done 🙂 🙂 🙂

  12. You are right, we love to hear success stories. Well done Andréia, you should be very proud!


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