Reasons v Excuses

I have two telescopic tension rods, the kind you wedge between two hard surfaces to hang curtains from. The reason I still have them, even though I haven’t used them since returning to Australia from the USA, is that they might come in handy one day. The excuse for falling into this old trap is that I don’t think they are sold here in Australia which would make them nigh on impossible if not too expensive to replace should I find a use for them.

Now how is that for a lot of rubbish. Oh, I admit to both that I do have these things for such a ridiculous reason.  I don’t even like curtains, they harbour dust and look so old fashioned. So you know what I did today? I took them down and put them in the trunk of my car to donate to a white elephant fundraising sale for a worthy charity.

So what was behind my sudden grip on reality? Living in our smaller home bring everything in it into question ~ Are they clutter or are they loved or useful to me. Yes I love their clever design and yes they are useful, but to me no. Since moving in to our new home old interests, never gone, have come back to the fore and I need space to arrange the ingredients for them. Therefore any excess is getting in the way of that. Even some of the less used tools on my craft are heading out the door to make the space more functional.

I guess what I am saying here is that one of the keys to decluttering is deciding what is more important ~ Making the space for the life you want to live or dwelling on past useful and/or loved objects. I have no room for such objects and even if I did I find my space more functional when all the excess is out of the way.

Are you clinging on to things because you are somehow attached to them even though you don’t love them or use them. If so, they are clutter and it is about time you let them go. No reasons no excuses.

Today’s Mini Mission

If you have more towels than necessary declutter a few. They take years to wear out so you won’t be leaving yourself short. Donate good ones to a thrift shop and shabby ones to an animal shelter or the like.

Eco Tip for the Day

Use the dishwasher and washing machine during off-peak hours in order to cut down the strain on power infrastructure. This will delay the necessity for expensive polluting upgrades and will save you money to boot. 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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About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. I have just come to the end of the first year of decluttering. I have been looking at what I have learned and how I have changed. One thing that struck me is how much I love empty space. I have no need to fill a gap, instead I can enjoy the shape the space makes. The key for me was to let go of the guilt. In fact the guilt was not so much that I was letting go of something that had monetary or apparent sentimental value but guilt that I had accumulated so much stuff in the first place. I can’t do the mini mission. We cut our towels down to the bare minimum plus one each for the dogs about a year ago 🙂

    • It’s great to have empty space. Congratulation. One of the things I like about space is that it allows to you add stuff later, if you need to. Two examples: my eldest daughter was diagnosed with diabetes 4 years ago. I can’t tell you how glad I was to have an entire empty cabinet available. Diabetes is a cluttery disease, and it was one less worry to have the space to store her items. Other example: I host a Little Free Library in my front yard. People give me books for it regularly, and I rotate them so that there’s always something fresh in the box. Another empty cabinet gave me the room to do this without overflowing into other areas of my home.

      • Hi Cindy, it is always good to hear from you. I can’t believe that I actually have open space in my new smaller home. And I plan to open up more of it if I can.

        I hope you and yours are doing well.

      • Hi Cindy – I was wondering how your little library was doing?

      • Cindy,
        Years ago, I read an article that suggested you leave one drawer, one shelf, one cabinet and at least 18 inches of hanging closet rod space in each room of your home empty for whatever “life stuff” comes your way. I can tell you from my personal experience that it works beautifully. It allows me the space for any “temporary” items to be stored, or for items in transition.

        • Kimberley – that is really good advice, I’m adding that to my quotes file on my phone!

        • But Kimberley, once that space has something on it it is no longer free space. but I like the intension behind it.

          • I think the key word here is “temporary” as opposed to permanent. For example, I have a few dishes, serving ware, glassware and cloth napkins for each major holiday. They are neatly stored “off season” with other decorations, however, when the holiday is approaching, I use my empty kitchen space for this purpose so they don’t require me to do any rearranging of my normal cabinets. Once the holiday is over, the space is once again cleared.

    • Good for you Gillie, but don’t waste your time feeling guilty about past mistakes. We live and learn and most of us here are doing far better with limiting our consumption now than most people living in Western society. Just enjoy those open spaces and be glad that you made the change.

  2. Gillie, that’s really great. I also enjoy seeing more space instead of stuff and junk. The guilt feeling is a big one!

    Colleen, your story gave me some laughs. Even after ALL the stuff I’ve gotten rid of, I am pretty dang sure that there are still some things I’m hanging on to that could/should really go out the door!

    Since we don’t have a linen closet, I store extra towels/linens in the attic. We just have two sets of sheets, one flannel for winter and one regular cotton for summer and just three sets of towels that I rotate through. Plus one ratty bath towel for when I color my hair. 🙂

  3. Colleen, you make me laugh. We have several things like this including one of these tension rods you mention, a couple of regular curtain rods, etc. I can’t convince Mom to declutter them. So I just keep them on the “someday” list and go on.

    • Deb J.,
      Time to tell Mom that “someday” is now here 🙂
      As I recall, your mom moved into your home. Don’t feel guilty about putting your foot down. You are an amazing daughter for inviting her to come and live with you, but you need to set boundaries with her.

      • Mom has come so far that I am taking things slow with her. I think that I will see these things go by the end of the summer.

    • Oh Deb J, someday is one of those days the never come. But hey, I hung on to my rods way longer than necessary so who am I to talk.

      • I think that Mom knows we might move and she wants to have them in case she needs them in the new place.

  4. Colleen – this made me laugh. This helps me with a decision, a piece of art I have been hanging onto that my husband doesn’t like on the basis that he or my daughter want to do a new piece but aren’t on the same timeline as me. I reasoned I could always put the old one back up if nothing new was done. In the mean time it sits leaning against a wall in my room.

    • Hi Moni, I have done well to amuse lots of readers today. Yay, like my mum I love to make people laugh. As for that piece of art, I am glad you are ready to let it go.

  5. It’s good to know that even you have so recently hung on to something for a ridiculous reason. It makes me feel less weird. I thought you were ‘sorted.’ But you are getting there. I am slowly.

    • I am glad to make you feel so normal. Today I found a pan while organising a cupboard in my kitchen. I thought I had already given it to my daughter. That was easy to declutter, when I texted my daughter she said she wanted it with a hearty “Yes please!”.

      • That’s good, another item gone, one that you thought was gone and it has a happy recipient.

  6. You are SO right – the skinny tension rods seen all over the internet/pinterest are impossible to find in Oz, but I have found more tubular, towel rail sized ones, and use one in my laundry (in two homes… with some rethinking!)

    Onto the off peak – I think overall, it matters more when people have a time of use meter, as they see the benefits in $$. But agreed, without a meter like that, it still helps stem demand during peak times. You’ll be pleased to know the demand has dropped, which really has put my industy in the pooper, but it is a great thing for the environment!