Repeating the same action will never yield a different result

If you want to make changes in your life you are going to have to change the way you do things. Explore better options, be open minded, step out of your comfort zone and try doing things differently. Trust me, you aren’t going to wake up one morning, do things the same way you always have and suddenly yield the desired effect that you have been hoping would miraculously occur.

If you have a clutter trouble spot in your home and it has been that way for a long time chances are you are repeating the same habits in this area and until you change this habit the problem isn’t going to go away. For example…

  • The Trouble Spot ~ The bathroom cabinet. No matter how many times you declutter this space in two months time it is chock-a-block full of toiletry products again.
  • Same Action ~ Clearly this isn’t happening by magic, you have a weakness for this kind of product and continue buying more of it than you need. It is also likely that you decide after a short while that you didn’t really like what you bought in the first place. You either have to accept this weakness and live with a cluttered cupboard or do something about it.
  • Different Result ~ The solution here is simple (on the surface) ~ resist temptation, only buy a new product when you have used up the old one. When I say simple I mean logically simple, resisting temptation can be a very difficult thing. I saw a quote the other day that made me laugh ~ Lead me not into temptation, I can find my way there easily enough on my own. The best tip here is to stay away from the shops that sell this kind of product. It is easier to resist if it isn’t right under your nose.

Lets try another example…

  • The Trouble Spot ~ Paper clutter. You are forever complaining that your desk is always a mess because all this paperwork builds up and you don’t have the time to deal with it.
  • Same Action ~ You continue to receive bills via the post. You sign up for every catalogue known to man, and add your name to mailing lists willy nilly including charities that you just can’t say no to. You also refuse to investigate the fact that maybe your filing system isn’t functional which is what slows you down when putting the completed documents away.
  • Different Result ~ Digitise your billing, cancel all the catalogues you really have no time to look at and stop signing up on mailing list (this includes entering competitions that require your address and phone number) including all but your two favourite charities. It may take some time to set this new plan into motion but I guarantee your paperwork will decrease. This isn’t only good for you but good for the environment as well. Once this is in place you will find that you have less paperwork to file which alone could make that task easier but you could also investigate ways to improve your filing system altogether. It took me five seconds to google the works filing systems, one second to click on this site and five minutes to read through this article Organize your filing systems a 4-step formula that really works. There were some great tips in the article and I am sure there are thousands of other web sites out there with just the right solution for you. Consider this ~ it isn’t just the filing taking up your time it is dealing with far more things than you need to and feeling obligated in too many areas and those catalogues may be fun to look through but they are most filled with deals on clutter you don’t need.

Also reading about doing something and actually doing something are not the same. You have to put a plan into action. You may find that it isn’t the right plan or the perfect plan for you but as they say Live and Learn. You will not learn the best plan if you take no action. You may find that you only need to make small tweaks to what you are already doing to make a big improvement. I do this all the time even on systems that are working quite well just to see if I can simplify my life even more. Sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t but my philosophy is ~ Nothing ventured nothing gained.

Today’s Declutter Item

One more toiletry product gift used up and out of my house. I am so grateful that my friends have accepted the fact that I no longer wish them to give me gifts because soon I will have eliminated all the birthday guilt clutter from my home and I would like it to stay that way.

My Gratitude List

  • Something that made me laugh ~ The latest episode of Big Bang Theory.
  • Something that made me happy ~ Sitting in the sunshine having my lunch again. This time no cockroach to spoil the moment.
  • Something to be grateful for ~ Making progress on my eBook.
  • Something awesome ~ Juicy, sweet crunchy apples.
  • Something I found facinating ~ Wondering why we keep the things we do for so long when we clearly aren’t using them and probably never will.

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 finally leanred this lesson. I have the bathroom storage issue. Finally I realized that I tend to try new things thinking that maybe something will make my hair do differently than it does. I recently realized that nothing was going to change my hair. It is what it is and I have the choice of using all sorts of goop that breaks me out and having stylish hair or using no goop and thus no rash and my hair is what it is. I have decided to just take it as it is. The decision was so freeing. Now I have an answer to give everyone who has ideas for my hair and I no longer have a buildup of clutter in the bathroom cabinet.

    We have a rumage sale here at our community twice a year where you can donate anything you want and the money raised will help with parties, donations to the police and fire departments, etc. We have one starting tomorrow. I have been collecting things for this for 6 months in the back shed. We can’t move the shed out so are stuck with it. I finally decided it would come in handy for accumulating the donations. It’s wonderful. I have all sorts of things that I have put in there as I declutter. I have some Autumn computer stationary with matching envelopes, thin journals that have been given to me, art stamps for use on walls and cloth, containers, etc. It’s been so nice to have a place to put it all and know that it will go to a good cause.

    • Hi Deb J,
      ah the good old hair product clutter. I too suffer from hair that has a mind of it’s own but I do have plenty of it so I shouldn’t complain. It is thick, course, not quite curly enough ( without product) no straight enough either, just generally out of control. I have got to the point of ~ take me as I am unless I could be bothered to straighten it. I quite often fantasise about cutting it all off but the two other times I have done that I hated it and besides having it short does not change its unruliness.

      You must be so pleased that the time has finally arrived to donate your clutter to the ramage sale. Than must be a load off your shoulders or at least out of the back shed. Good luck with the sale I hope it goes well and your community raises lots of needed funds.

    • We have a friend with a tiny house who installed a storage shed as their “casita.” We LOVE going there… it has room for a double bed, a chair, and the pack-and-play we travel with. No insulation, but the windows and cracks in the walls are enough.

  2. The last episode of Big Bang made me laugh a lot too.

    I’ve been reading your site for a few months now and truly love it. Thanks for posting daily – I look forward to your updates.

    Eight weeks ago I started decluttering when I stumbled upon the minimalist movement. Two days ago I gave away my 100th thing. I’ve been selling, donating and giving directly to individuals. I’m moving along rather quickly and trying to make fast decisions so I don’t end up hanging on to items when I truly don’t need/use them. One thing has given me pause (I kept it for now) — a hardback copy of my college dictionary and thesaurus.

    I’ve been documenting my progress with a computerized list and have a long way to go. I”m thrilled with what’s left my home in the past eight weeks. I have more work to do in my basement storage areas and two young kids’ rooms.

    Thanks again for the enjoyable read each day!

    • Hi Kristin,
      thank you for your comment and my I a extend a warm welcome to 365lessthings. It is good to have you on board.

      Congratulation on your progress so far you are well on your way to a wonderful decluttered home. With two young children you task will be ongoing but that is to be expected.

      As for the dictionary and thesaurus, you don’t have to expel every thing from your home and you are entitled to keep some precious memory items. I know I do and I also know that as time goes by some of the once precious items are also being decluttered because I am ready. It’s not a race and it is not anyone else’s decision what you keep and don’t.

      How are the rest of the family reacting and cooperating in with this exercise? I hope they are all on board with you and making the task easier for you.

      Good luck and I hope we hear from you often with updates on your progress and to share some great stories and wisdom you have collected along the way.

  3. Oh yeah, the desk. Grrrr… (this is my desk not my hubby’s). Spring break is almost here. I really am going to tackle it.

  4. Love BBT too! I just got Series 3 from the library after being on the waiting list for weeks (could have bought it, but stayed strong!)

    Off to Qld for the school holidays to stay at my sister’s gorgeous clutter-free home, and only taking carry-on luggage (never done that before, and am quite proud of myself!)

    • Hi Loretta,
      I usually only take carry on luggage even for a month overseas but when I go to visit my sister in Qld I could go with just my underwear because we fit into the same clothes. Very convenient! 🙂

  5. Hi Colleen! I liked very much the link to organizing and filing papers. I will read it again, while I manage a few papers that are stray in my office. I used to have lots of stuff under the bathroom sink, but a broken pipe and lots of soaked things kind of led me to the minimalist side ;). And yes in the office (that is at home) where I work and meet clients, I am guilty as charged with repeating the same acts, and thus getting the same results (stacks of papers). It’s the one place in the house that is an eternal work in progress, but I’ll get there (someday, who knows? 😕 .

  6. Hi Andréia,
    re the bathroom ~ sometimes fate steps in and forces us to clean up our act.
    As for the office ~ like they say at Alcoholics Anonymous ~ admitting you have a problem is half the cure. The issue is often not having enough time to work out how to correct it but in the long run less time is wasted making that one time effort than floundering with an inefficient set up.

    • Hi Colleen! Just for today I will clean my desk. One day at a time. But I procrastinate sooo much when I am at the office! :-D. I read blogs, I go to my e-mail billions of times, and I check the links in the pages that I visit…It’s a never ending tread of putting it off! Right now I am looking at lots of papers that are homeless, but have files that I have to find…Geez, just talking about it makes me want to turn my back. Encourage me Colleen, I am in need :-O.

      • Oh Andréia,
        what am I going to do with you. Get off your computer the minute you finish reading this and work on that desk. You will feel so much better once the job is done and then you can have some more play time to comment back here on what a fantastic result you have achieved for your efforts. Once the desk is clean you can than find a little time to consider what would be a better way of doing things so it doesn’t continue to be a problem for you. The solution may be simpler than you think. Be considering this while you are cleaning because that is the best time to see where the disfunction is.
        Now I want you to know that I have connections with the big fella upstairs (you know who I mean) and he will let me know if you have not done as you are told. You ask my children they know that I have connections and they also know that He will keep them honest or make them pay for their folly. Actually they would often stub their toe or something just after they misbehaved and I would just nod my head and point to the sky and I think they weren’t sure if I will just playing with them or if I really did have connections. I would suggest you follow my instructions just in case. My daughter also thinks I can do Jedi mind tricks 😆 ~ I only wish, although I think I can but the reaction time is a little slow. I use them on my husband but he doesn’t know it, I just wish they worked faster. perhaps I need to practice more. 😆

        Anyway time is wasting so get to that desk now. Don’t think of the big picture think of one small thing at a time and start with the easy stuff and work your way up. Good luck and remember He is watching.

        • Wow! You really put the fear of God into me 😀 ! Just came now to tell it’s very late around here, but I have put my mind into it and some things have been done. Although I must confess that what really got me going was your Jedi powers, o Great Jedi Master 😀 😀 :-D. Now, seriously, I took some “before” pictures, and by Friday I will send you the “before” AND “after” pictures.

          • And you can post them to show everyone I did clean up ;-D!

          • Oh, I am excited to see the before and after photos. I will be away for the weekend and I am not taking my computer so I will have to wait until Sunday to see them. Bummer! That doesn’t mean that you can drag this task out for another couple of days though, young lady. 😉 I will post your photos next Saturday possibly so everyone can see what a fabulous declutterer you are and what a wonderful declutter coach I am. 😀 Don’t let me down! 😉

  7. I am so with Colleen here! We all have traps – watching TV, reading magazines, and especially fooling around on the computer – that keep up from doing WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE. As for myself, I find that if I sit down at my desk with the laptop in front of me, a lead weight develops in my hind end, and I stay there for probably twice as long as I need to.

    So here are some of my practical suggestions:
    Go about your day backwards. If I can resist getting on the computer at the beginning of the day, I get more done.

    If it’s a laptop, take it outside or elsewhere in the house. I find moving my location changes my pattern of behavior.

    Think about the futility of refreshing your email over and over, the silliness of looking for blog to blog. (Isn’t everything you need right here?). Talk to yourself OUT LOUD about this problem. Hear yourself admitting that this is not a good way of managing your time and other personal resources.

    Put a cloth over the computer so that you really, truly remember that you are NOT supposed to be fooling around on it.

    Or, even unplug it until you get some other things done. (Does it make your knees quake with fear at the idea of (cue the scary music) Unplugging The Computer?)

    Good luck! And stop reading here now!

    • Hi Cindy,
      you and Andréia are very good at reading between the lines. Well put or should I say well confessed. It is amazing how just the right few words can elicit the exact thought pattern it was intended to provoke. I think it is time i wrote a post about this without beating about bush.

    • I hear you Cindy – and these are all really good ideas to help with computer hypnosis.

      My biggest issue is being tired and sitting down at the computer “to rest for a few minutes”. Precisely BECAUSE I’m tired, the few minutes turns into much longer because I’m not really getting any rest there, I’m just distracting myself from the way I feel.

      Why do we do these things to ourselves?!

      • Hi Jo,
        simple because distraction is always much more comfortable than facing harsh reality. The problem is that ignoring it doesn’t make it go away.

  8. I used to buy cosmetics for the reason most of us do -the promise of greater skin, more beauty, less under eye bags etcetera. Then I realized that I’m just not a cosmetics user, having them sit in my cabinet is not going to give me any results -not that I’m convinced using them would make a difference either. It’s just the lure of great packaging and advertising, a promise of a bit of luxury and pampering. But I think that kind of pampering is a chore, really! I have a minimal routine and finally realized I need 4 make-up products (that I don’t even use every day) and that natural soap can be bought without plastic packaging (and you are not logging home water) and that empty bathroom cabinet and counters are luxury to me, not having some pretty products gathering dust and going stale..

    • Hi Cat’sMeow,
      You said it ~ great packaging and advertising. We can be convinced of anything by clever advertising if we allow ourselves. I am so conditioned to ignore it now that I doubt legitimate information until I can prove it to myself via an independent source.
      I also think this kind of pampering is a chore and one I could do without. There is no doubt a person can look a whole lot better with a little lippy and foundation and for me some eyes but I am happy most of the time to let people take me as I come. Anyone who isn’t prepared to do this isn’t worth my time either.

  9. Thanks for the kick in the pants! I love *reading* about decluttering. Then I’ve read so much, I run out of time to actually declutter! Right after I read this post, I got the mail. There was an envelope from my mutual fund company. In the past, I would have opened it, read the statement, tossed the envelope in recycling, and tossed the statement into a pile on my desk. It would stay there until next quarter when the whole process would repeat and I would file the first statement and put the new one on a pile on the desk. Repeat for bank statements, tax papers, etc., and you’ve got paper clutter!
    This time I looked at the statement and remembered this post. Do something different!! In the fine print at the bottom of the post, it said “to go paperless, go to“!! Hallelujah! So I did and I am. Paperless on that one account, that is. Now I’m getting ruthless with everything. I used to think I would need a hard copy in case of emergency. If there was a *true* emergency, I probably wouldn’t care to peruse my mutual fund’s performance back to 2008. Thanks for getting my out of my clutter rut! Off to declutter something now…

    • Hi okgirl,
      thank you your great comment and welcome to 365lessthings. I am so glad this post has given you the “kick in the pants” you needed. One paperless account sorted and now move on to the next one. Don’t forget there are so many ways you can save the on-line version of your accounts to an internet filing system so that they are still there if you need them to refer back to if necessary. Check out this great post from Zen Habits. The trouble with paperwork is that our minds are still so fixed on the old methods of the past but dealing with this problem can be so much simpler now, once we take the time to get set up with a new modern system. You have made the first step and are on your way to better times. Good luck and happer paper decluttering.


  1. […] my desk. Finally, after reading Colleen’s post on April 14, as you can check out for yourself here, I asked for help. Colleen put the fear of her Jedi powers into me and I gave myself a deadline. I […]