Sage advice or tough love depending on how you view it.

Below I am going to share with you some advice, both of my own and quotes I have happened upon. I will then explain how these quote apply to decluttering. Although the first needs little explanation. So bear with me and don’t run away screaming after just reading the quotes.

  1. “The clutter didn’t appear overnight so wishing it would just disappear overnight isn’t going to happen either.” ~ Colleen Madsen
  2. “Performing the same actions will never result in a different reaction.” ~ Unknown to me. However this version is a twist on a quote from Albert Einstein ~ “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
  3. “if you aren’t happy with your life, stop living it the same way.” ~ Colleen Madsen
  4. “Only you can create the miracle cure.” ~ Colleen Madsen. This one is my wording of various pieces of advice given to me over the years.
  5. “Life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% of how you respond to it.” – From a fortune cookie my husband received.

All of these pieces of advice are fundamentally similar. So how do they relate to decluttering?

Well the first one is obvious. Clutter builds up over time. I say that like as though it just appears like mildew in the shower or dust on your nicknacks but, of course, we play a greater part in it than that. We bring in the clutter, usually over a long period of time. And if we make no effort to keep it under control then naturally it will get out of control. Acquiring stuff is relatively easy if you have the money to pay for it. Removing it responsibly isn’t really any harder than acquiring it but, for most people, it is viewed as a big bother. As a result, once the clutter has started to irritate us, we hope it would just quietly disappear the same way it seemed to have appeared. But, of course, the difference is that acquiring it, for most people, is much more fun than having to deal with the task of getting rid of it. However with the right attitude the decluttering can be far more rewarding than the acquisition of the items in the first place. More about that tomorrow.

As for the other four pieces of advice, the reality is that we create much of our own reality and we can also change that reality. The fortune cookie advice says ~”Life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% of how you respond to it.” This is no doubt true and good advice to head. However when it comes to clutter most of that is self inflicted and it is totally up to us to fix the problem. Making the most of the decluttering process, therefore, is entirely up to us. As I said in the previous paragraph, the decluttering process can be very rewarding if we allow it. The advice in 2 & 3 is much the same. Translate that to clutter and it clearly says that if you don’t like being surrounded by clutter then you have to change your ways. Wishing the clutter would go away but taking no action to remove it will continue to result in a cluttered home. And naturally, acquiring more while you sit idle wishing it would go away will only make the situation continue to get worse.

And then there is advice no. 4. Reading books and websites about clutter will not result in a miracle cure. The only thing that will fix the situation is to take action. Sure, advice, like I give here, is helpful but only if you put it into action. Much the same as going to a psychologist with depression and hoping that advice, sympathy and medication is all it takes to fix your issues. When actually the cure is mostly up to you, you have to take that advice, apply it to your life and gradually begin to instil new responses to potentially stressful situations. The cure doesn’t come overnight with one ah ha moment but gradual and rewarding.

So take my advice, let go of the clutter and train yourself to feel that relief with every little thing that goes out the door and the effort will not only be worth it but it will be less gruelling than you thought.

Today’s Mini Mission

Find an item that is past being useful to anyone and throw it in the trash.

“If we do not feel grateful for what we already have, what makes us think we’d be happy with more?” — Unknown

Eco Tip for the Day

Share your eco tips with others around you. Let them know that it can save them money and perhaps you will recruit one more person to help save the planet. If you have an eco tip that I haven’t shared here in the past please share it with up through the comments section below.

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 love quotes! I keep a note page in my phone where I add quotes. Sometimes, someone else has already said it better! I will be adding the Fortune Cookie one to the list.

    • Hi Moni, I liked the fortune cookie one too. Can I read into your comment that you didn’t like my quotes?

      • Colleen – LOL no you cannot read that into it. I’m just always on the prowl for new quotes and I have several Colleen quotes in my phone too – and some different to the above Colleen quotes. 🙂
        My kids roll their eyes when I pronounce that I know just the perfect quote and I frantically thumb thru my phone.

        • Ha ha Moni, I love the things we drive out kids crazy with. Mine used to say things that would remind me of a song and start singing. It is lucky they didn’t become mute to avoid the situation.

  2. Colleen,
    Your quotes are spot on. I don’t know the author, but this is one of my personal favorites:
    “Nothing changes if Nothing changes”
    Sums up just about everything in life, including clutter 🙂

  3. Your quotes are good reminders. I think the ah ha moments come when we read the quotes and and we can relate to them .
    Sometimes it’s hard to see the reason behind the words. When you told me the “Life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% of how you respond to it.” I was unable to grasp it. It still puzzles me . But I am not going to bog down trying to fathom it out.
    I am currently reading a book that I have found extremely helpful in dealing with the thoughts and actions of others. It’s called ‘How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World’ by Harry Browne. It is available on a PDF .
    I like this line from the book, I think it is very appropriate in regard to decluttering.

    ‘You’ll have to work just as hard to defend your changes as you did to bring them about. There won’t be a stopping point where you can say the job is done and you can return to your private life to enjoy the blessings of freedom.’

    • Hi Wendy, the 10% quote was all about being a cup half full kind of person. Or when life serves you lemons make lemonade. Shit happens and when it does we can either sit around feeling sorry of ourselves and worry about the implications or simply think “Well shit happens lets just move on and make the best of a bad situation.” that is the 90% part.

      I have just downloaded the PDF you mentioned and will upload it to my cloud and try to find some time to read it during my vacation.

  4. Colleen – I love the first quote and constantly remind myself that the clutter didn’t appear overnight. I’ve been selling things on eBay – sometimes it seems to take forever. Then I think back on how many years it took to accumulate some of the stuff – definitely puts things in perspective.

    • Good for you Barbara, you sound like the cup half full kind of girl. You are realistic about how things happen and then the cure isn’t quick either. You clearly also understand the 10% 90% quote and don’t waste your 90% on being negative. And when you find yourself thinking that way you stop and think better of it. Well done.

  5. The last part about reading websites was the best part for me. I have been continuing to read your site (and a couple others) about decluttering, but I haven’t devoted any time to actually doing any decluttering in my home in the last month or so. I keep making excuses, but the truth is I just haven’t made it a priority. Hopefully I can get back on track with this now.

    • Hi Kayla, you wouldn’t be on your own there. And I wish you success at getting back on track. Give some thought to why you have been avoiding the task. then try to formulate a solution to whatever it is the is holding you back. Sometimes we mistakingly think we are trying to avoid the whole task but often it is just one aspect that we find difficult which puts up off altogether. If you can find the niggly little chink in the scheme then you can probably also find a solution.

  6. Good quotes, Colleen. I especially like the fortune cookie one because it goes with the “cup half full” idea. I try to not look at the things that may be wrong and look at all my blesings. It is the same thing with our homes. Don’t look at the clutter and get discouraged. Instead look at the great things that will happen when we declutter.

    • You’ve got the right ideas there Deb. I suppose I just get such a thrill from getting rid of stuff that I am aways on the lookout. I have been having a bit of a blitz on a few areas prior to heading off on our vacation and am quite pleased with the results. Mostly craft items of course.