Reassess what need is

It was a comment for Sabine that inspired this post. She had no desire to do the writing that she usually enjoys because of  all the stuff she “needs” cluttering up her desk. “Maybe it is time to reassess what ‘need’ is.” she said. Then in Tuesday’s post I mentioned how little we really do need as opposed to what we “think” we need. I know I stated in that post that we really only need food, water, shelter and love, it is a little more complicated than that but not as complicated as we tend to make it for ourselves.

You only have to look at the photos all the things I have decluttered from my home to see how much stuff we had that we thought we needed or wanted, only to find that sooner or later we discovered we didn’t need it after all. Somethings took longer to get rid of than others and that was often due to not being quite ready to part with them because we though maybe we still need them. Here are some examples…

  • Some we haven’t used for sometime but maybe one day we just might.
  • Some had been in use until recently but even though they were useful we really weren’t going to need them.
  • At least one was something I thought would be so useful when I acquired it and I used it once in about seven years.
  • One just didn’t really fit in the house anywhere anymore.
  • One got used once a year to cut leg ham at Christmas.
  • Two never did perform the job well that they were designed for.
  • Changes of diet, climate and dwelling had a hand in some of them not being used anymore.

They all look useful enough right? It could be very easy to hang on to all of these things with the idea that our circumstances might change and we will “need” them again. Circumstances such as lifestyle, living arrangements, interests, returning to old habits and the like. But please take another look at all of that stuff. What among it is necessary to survival. None, thats how much. And there is still plenty more where that lot came from like the crutches in the garage cupboard that have come in handy three times in five years, the spice chest that only half the drawers hold items that could easily be stored elsewhere, the wine glasses we really have too many of, lots of craft supplies etc etc.

How many items such as this do you hold on to because you think you might “need” them some day. As Lena said in a comment yesterday “Everyone chooses their own games.” The beauty is you can change the game rules if you want to or even the game itself if you like. Take a chance and play the declutter game instead of the clinging to things of limited use

Today’s Declutter Item

This was one too many bicycle pumps and two locks that I couldn’t remember the combinations for.


Bicycle pump & locks

“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” Brother David Steindl-Rast

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

Please follow and like us:
Pin Share

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. Colleen, I know what you mean. I could take picture upon picture of things we do not need. I’m to the point where I have a plan to just go slowly again through each drawer, cupboard and such so that we can together decide if it’s something we really need. I am planning a yard sale for our Women’s Ministry to raise money and I know how to start collecting. Grin.

    • Good for you Deb J, I hope you have success getting rid of lots more stuff. I feel inspired right now to get up of this sofa and have at it myself. Actually breakfast might be a better idea since it is almost 9 o’clock.

      • Ran across something today that I would love to chuck into the back shed for the yard sale. A big Christmas tin filled with smaller Christmas tins and boxes. Unfortunately, my mother seems to think we could use them. Hum! Maybe I need to wait until she has her back surgery and then go at it. As long as she isn’t here she won’t remember what we have in the main shed and thus won’t miss it. Oh! That’s a good idea.

        • I like your thinking Deb J but I am not sure I would be game to pull a stunt like that. Although using the old out of sight out of mind thing to your advantage does sound very tempting I bet.

  2. I agree – and I’m doing it in reverse – filling my new place, but trying to vbe mindful of what’s really needed. Like do I need a broom if I have a vacuum and it’s only 66sqm (I mean, if I’m ‘too lazy’ to take the vacuum to where it’s needed, there’s something SERIOUSLY wrong!!)

    • ha! I tried that too. but at one point I just gave up arguing with my mother, who was convinced that I need a vacuum, 2 brooms, one with a soft end and one for scrubbing, and a wiping thing…
      now except for the vacuum cleaner that I use regularly, my new years resolution is to actually get those other things out of the closet and use them… or get rid of them.

      I dont own a microwave and it is almost scary how often people ask me “how can you live without it??”. and I always ask myself “what do you need it for?”. heating up can be done on the stove or in the oven. (and I still think its kind of dark magic about a machine that turns stuff from cold to hot within seconds) I do not own a toaster, because I dont eat toast but bread. if I want to toast something, there is a pan or the oven that does the job as well…

      • Hi Lena don’t give up trying to make other people, even your mother, realise that you live the lifestyle that suits you and that is the way you want it. Other people, although with good intensions, should not insist that other perfectly rational adults should do things the same as them. Be an individual and feel free to assert your control over your chosen lifestyle.

        • actually a lot of people understand this quite much, and we encourage each other. other people, mostly old friends and family dont get the “new Lena”. I stopped talking about minimalism, environmental issues, and cruelty to animals to those, because I cant stand this behaviour they start. it goes something like: “you are so naive if you think you can change the world, I instead am a realist and learned how to adapt to this world and accept things as they are, you should do that too…”
          my mum doesnt make fun of me, so I guess its a good sign and there is hope for her. 😉

          • There are a lot of people out there Lena who use all sorts fo excuses to stick their heads in the sand and hope the problem goes away by itself. Don’t stop talking about environmental issues even if people don’t seem to listen or care. Perhaps enough mention of it will be hard for them to ignore in the end and they will also start to do something about it. One can only hope. I am glad your mother is more open minded.

    • I use a vacuum for my floors, hard or soft, but I still have a broom for quick once overs. Like you say though both really aren’t necessary it is just laziness that makes me use the broom in between my weekly vacuum.

  3. Change in diet is a big one. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined giving away our toaster oven and rice cooker, but I Freecycled both of them away last month since carbs have been a really small part of the family’s diet for some time now. (Plus, rice can also be made in a pot on the stove…Imagine that!) The air popper? Also Freecycled away. For a rare treat, making popcorn the old fashioned way makes the whole house smell like a movie theater. 🙂 Paring down those one-trick-pony appliances has created a lot of extra space in our 1940s-era kitchen. Working within the confines of space we’ve got makes more sense than figuring out modern storage “solutions” which would’ve enabled us to keep more useless items.

    • Hi Melissa,
      may I firstly say welcome to 365 Less Things as I believe this is your first comment. I was quite amused by you label for single use gadgets, one-trick-pony appliances. I had never heard that one before. It is amazing how many of the kitchen gadget there are available to only produce relatively unhealthy food. Mostly high carb food ~ rice cookers, bread machines, ice-cream makers, toasters etc. All the foods prepared in these gadgets seem harmless enough but they are all loaded with carbs even the heathy versions still contain a lot of carbs and are best eliminated from our diets. Especially as people get older and aren’t as active as they used to be. And as you say most of these tasks can be performed with other more necessary kitchen appliances or tools.

      Thank you for dropping in and sharing your opinion with us and please do make a habit of it.

  4. I have also decluttered my recipes and pictures. We keep only the best.

  5. @ Lena: I know how you feel! I’ve tried to be more environmentally aware and use and buy less stuff for a few years now. I grew up in a family of hoarders, but I did not realise it until I moved out. Alhtough I’m now trying to get rid of those bad habbits I was brought up with, my family (and some friends too) get really annoyed when I talk about it.
    Still I will not give up, not even when they still tell me that I’m a fake because I own so many of item x and x.
    Just do your own thing enjoy they good vibes you get from doing it your way and they might just start to accept it, or even convert.
    (my mom has strated to keep an eye on her cars fuel consumtion, after my boyfriend and i made a game out of it.)

    My boyfriend and I have decided to make a commitment next year to reduce our stuff with one item a day, and consequently reducing our thrash.

    • Well done hunter_xs and good advice to Lena too. Be an individual, especially if it is a good example you are setting for those around you. I am so glad you are going to pledge to reduce a thing a day in 2012. I wish you luck and am always here with encouragement to share should you need it. See you next year.

  6. This is where my recent struggles come from. We moved apartments last week and for months before I decluttered what I thought was a lot. I have not shopped in almost a year with the exception of my wedding dress, shoes, and jewelry. I culled my closet to about a third of what I had and still keep pulling things. I feel I have want vs. need fairly down and while I make mistakes I think I am doing ok.
    My problem now is use vs. need. We decided to pack what we use and get rid of the rest. Unpacking was fairly easy due to this and better storage in the new condo but I still feel it’s too much. Do we keep because we use and it has an orderly place? We hope to move cross country in 2012 and I want to get ahead of the curb, but how do I determine what goes when we use things fairly regularly?

  7. I am head down in the holidays right now, but I have begun thinking about what I NEED for my writing desk. The list is so small it frightens me, and I add more items just to feel calm. I can see this is going to be a long process!