Simple Saturday ~ A comment from Jo

For Simple Saturday this week I just wanted to share a comment that we received last week-end in response to Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom ~ What’s intimidating you. Jo had been struggling with some items and finally came up with the solution. She wanted to share her story with us in case it might help someone else. Thank you Jo for sharing with and caring for your fellow readers.

Jo’s story

Can you believe it, I’ve been thinking about this post all this time and trying to decide what my most intimidating items are. And realized today that my absolute worst items have been right in front of me for the last month – the leftovers from my last yard sale, sitting in my living room because I refused to box them up and once more put them in the basement. These are items that have been through several yard sales and didn’t sell, they didn’t even go when I put them in a giveaway pile.

I decided I had to look at things from a different angle. I keep seeing these objects through my own eyes and that means I still somehow see them the way they were when they were new and useful. I had to ask myself, if I was in the market for this item and I saw this very item, in this condition, at a yard sale or thrift shop or even on a giveaway pile, would I want to take it home? If not, out it goes. IF it could be cleaned or repaired, and IF I am both ABLE and WILLING to clean/repair it, it gets kept and dealt with. (All items are subject to throwing out if I don’t actually get around to doing that very shortly.) I decluttered 15 of 18 items that I’ve been struggling with for a long time. Three items made it back into my household, one “as is”, and two for re-purposing. These are also subject to donation if not used shortly.

This process or something similar to it has been written about before. But for me, I discovered I had to do one more things to make it work. I have tried to process these items before, numerous times over the years, including in the last few weeks, but every single time I felt defeated just looking at the pile and gave up. So today I physically took one item at a time into a different room, and wrote down the question and answer (above) because it forced me to focus on one question at a time. As I went through the questions, the fate of the item became clear quite easily. As I decided on each item, I immediately took it to the garbage or the donate box or clean/repair pile, before getting another item. I am embarrassed to admit how hard this process was for me, that I had to break it down into such small parts. But it worked, and that is a huge relief, and if this helps someone else, it was worth putting it out there for them to see. I was starting to think I was not capable of making the decisions I needed to make, and getting quite desperate. Now I realize that despite reading about decluttering one thing at a time, I STILL wasn’t able to put it into practice for my intimidating things because their very presence in the same room all together made it impossible for me to focus on one thing at a time.

Thank you Colleen – and other commenters – because I don’t think I could have figured this out without the ideas here, AND also the gentle nudging to focus on the “why”, when dealing with problem areas. It took a long time, but I am so happy to have arrived at the answer to my particular problem. It may not work for anyone else, but it works for me :)

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Continue reading with these posts:

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About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. Great insight and great process Jo. There’s no need to feel ashamed about making a system that worked for you when other attempts had not. Good job!

  2. Fab!!!!! What an inspiring story, one that will ring true with many people. Clutter has so many emotional attachments/feelings that surrond it. This is exactly why i feel so at home here (i’m usually a lurker on other blogs 🙁 ) It’s not a one soloution fits all approach!! Would love to here more stories like this!!
    Sharron x

  3. I think that was a fabulous idea and thank you so much for sharing it with us. Big projects of any kind are overwhelming. I think we need to use this approach with whatever we are trying to accomplish in our lives. baby steps…one thing at a time…one day at a time. I have mentioned I care for my 92 year old mom and at times it can be exhausting as well as being a bit lonely. while before I spent a lot of time on the internet and facebook, etc I am now moving around and looking in closets and being inspired. I think the internet is wonderful, please dont misunderstand but sometimes I could be on for hours. I have even taken a mini facebook hiatus only because I was getting addicted and there are so many other things I can be doing with my time. It is wonderful reading posts of others like myself. another great article…so glad I read this…baby steps…..and always remember when you start the day and your making choices to ask yourself will this make my life better? the same holds true with our things…will holding on make my life better or would I be better off making the choice of sending it on its way. its a great question that I really do ask myself many times a day:)

    • Donna, When I did not work, I found that I would spent all my time between 8 and 10 or 11 just piddling on the Internet. That’s a lot of wasted time. I mean, how many times can you hit “refresh” on Facebook? Like you, I had to take control. I couldn’t believe how much I was able to get done in that time if I stayed away from the computer.

  4. Well done, Jo! You understood just how basic you needed to make the decision process and you did it!

  5. Thank you for sharing Jo. I do have items that I have not sold and that are not accepted by my local thrift stores (mostly kids’ stuff). They are all stacked up in a corner of my entry hall – very pretty! – and I need to do something about it! I’ll try your process.

    • Hi NatalieinCA,
      try I never have a problem getting rid of stuff the thrift store would reject there.

      • Hi Colleen,
        I love freecycle. Things are usually gone the same day! The problem is that I have about 50 different items, ranging for age 0+ to 8, both girls and boys. So I guess I need to sort through them, bundle what can go together then post for each bundle. I talked to a friend today who told me churches might accept kids’ stuff. I am going to try that first. It would be easier to dispose of everything at once, and I also like the fact that many people could enjoy them.

        • I wonder if a women’s shelter would take kids’ clothes. Often their clients arrive with nothing. Can’t hurt to call and ask.

        • Hi NatalieinCA,
          yes bundling up in size and gender would be a good idea. Is there some reason these items can’t go to the thrift store the one I work at sell baby and kid’s clothes. Maybe there are different laws about these things in America.

          • They are not clothes, but toys and kids’ gear (bicycle helmets, car seats, eating utensils…) Everything subject to recall is not accepted in thrift stores in my area.

            • Hi NatalieinCA,
              I understand why these object are not candidates for resale. Freecycle does seem like the best option. Not everyone has the luxury of being able to afford these things new and if yours are in good condition why not help someone out who needs it.

  6. Hi Jo! Well done! Even though we read and read Colleen’s advice it is not always easy to aply it to some stuff we have at our house. I am taking your example and a few posts I have read this week to go through items that I have long overlooked because they are just “there”, but I don’t feel right parting with them.
    Again, congratulations on a job well done!

  7. What kind folks you all are! It was a great relief to find the answer to my problem and I hope it helps someone else. Meanwhile, I no longer feel like I have that tight band around my head whenever I think about doing more sorting this weekend, and that, my friends, is a good feeling 🙂

  8. Jo, You are so wonderful to open your feelings and to share this with the rest of us. It was so helpful to me, and please remember, you are NOT alone in this decluttering process. How very very important it is for each of us to take this at our own speed, on our own path/journey. Thank you!!!

  9. Hi Jo,
    congratulation & thanks for sharing your “craziness”. It’s good to know that for others, too, something that sounds easy (and probably IS easy) might not feel easy while doing it (or while avoiding it). And it is so good to hear that all the progress out there (that can be intimidating to hear about if you are not there yet or having a low, not making any progress at the moment) is not made by perfect people but by struggling, fighting, clinging and procrastinating people.


  1. […] story from Saturday’s post brought my attention to this box of clutter sitting awaiting decision in my craft room. It has […]