Life is, at the very least, punctuated with stressful periods. For some there are no end of stressors almost 24/7 365 days of the year. Mostly this is caused by the complications of life. Past history, current hassles, work obligations, financial issues, family, illness… Boy, this is making me feel depressed just writing about it and my life is quite sweet for the most part.

The one thing I have learned from my decluttering experience is that simplification is the key. The more you own the more you have to take care of. The more work the is required from you. And all that acquiring means less savings in the bank when needed. Add that to all the other stressors and things can get really ugly.

What could be worse than a sudden health issue just when your rent has gone up and you have to take unpaid time off work. I’ll tell you what could be worse, and that is being surrounded by a messy, cluttered home when you are in the thick of it. During times of stress it is a wonderful thing to have a welcoming haven to return to at the end of the day. A welcoming place to cocoon yourself in to recuperate.

Sometimes when life is going well for you it can go to hell for someone close to you and you need to step in to help. Once again it is nice to feel free to be able to do that because things are simplified in your life.

Either way it is best to live by the Boy Scout motto of be prepared. I have found myself in both situations in recent years on several occasions and I have been able to step up to the plate at the drop of a hat. When my son had his accident, when I was having health issues, when my father went into hospital, when my daughter came home at short notice, in the last couple of weeks when I dashed off to help my friend with her move.

So don’t leave it until life happens to realise that you should get your own nest into shape. Get started now so that when things hit the fan you at least can be sure of is a place or peace and serenity to recharge in.

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter an item that brings you unnecessary feelings of sadness whenever you lay eyes on it.

“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

Don’t accept free promotional products that you have no use for. Accepting these just encourages the continuation of this practice while the environment would be healthier without the manufacture of cheap throwaway or needless items like these usually are.

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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Continue reading with these posts:

  • Mini Mission ~ Friday 22Dec2017 Declutter a couple of old shabby shoes that you no long choose to use.
  • 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 […]
  • Getting the stuff out of your home It has come to my attention, both through comments on my blog and through real life experience, that one of the issues people have with their clutter, once they finally decide to be rid of […]
About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. Fortunately, I’ve not had a situation where I needed to leave home suddenly or have someone need to come to my home due to a crisis. But simplification is definitely the key.

    We are having several people over this coming Sunday for a BBQ and typically, this would throw me into a tornado of cleaning. Recently I’ve kept on top of cleaning tasks, so just a sweep/vacuum and clean the bathroom and we’ll be ready for company. 🙂

    • Hi Michelle, I think you have experienced this through the lives of other though Michelle if I remember our previous conversations. Ageing and downsizing may spring some thoughts to mind. But even as your example here shows, simplification can even help in small events like the lead up to entertaining. There are many people out there who shy away from even having people to their homes because of the complications of clutter.

  2. We are coming up to a stressful time, with the design and build of a new house and back surgery or treatments thrown into the mix. In the past I didn’t bother counting items leaving — it was enough that stuff was on the way out. Last year we had a huge influx of stuff from numerous sources and we got stalled, overwhelmed by trying to find homes for it all. Recently, I set up a spreadsheet and started listing items as I put them aside or got rid of them. I figured the new home process would take about two years so I set a goal to get rid of 730 things in that 2 years. Last night it occurred to me that if I could get rid of 730 things in TWO years, I could get rid of that same amount in ONE year. That leaves me wiggle room for all the complications that can happen, as inevitably they will. It also means we’ll be ready to jump if the new house is finished sooner than planned or if someone comes up with a great offer on this house even if the new one isn’t finished. Started that list two weeks ago and just hit 50 items gone. Getting back on track has in itself reduced my stress level.

    • Wendy B – it makes sense to get ahead as life certainly has a way of throwing a spanner in the works. All the best for the back surgery and house build.

      • Thank you, Moni. Ian is excited to have an option that allows us to stay here at the lake rather than moving into town. He’ll still work too hard, but not WAAAAY too hard as he does now! He’s happily adding stuff to the get-rid-of pile and I’m all for that!

        • Wendy B – I also like your comment about reducing your stress levels. Yes I agree. We can’t control the rollercoaster of life but we can control what objects we are responsible for.

    • Hi Wendy, I think that while helping my friend over the last couple of weeks that she would have easily decluttered that many items in just those two weeks, possibly in the first weekend. But that was a stressful time. Much better to allow yourself one year. And being that you are already at 50 you could achieve your goal much sooner. I wish you success and no stress. And I hope the great offer on your existing home comes to fruition. And I hope the hubbies back has a miraculous improvement. I hope he is behaving himself. 😉

  3. I have spent the last three months abroad with only one large suitcase and one small suitcase, plus a laptop. Despite that neither suitcase was full after three months I still haven’t worn/used everything I packed and I still feel like I have way too much stuff and it’s even overwhelming. I go home in 3 days, heaven knows how I will feel once I am back home! I feel a major declutter about to happen – if I can live without it for 3 months then I can live without it forever… 🙂 Funny though how much it all feels even once you already pared back! Makes you wonder how we ever did things before!

    • Hi Jane W, I know exactly what you mean. What I have also experience before is having spent time visiting other more cluttered homes for several days and then returning home to my own and enjoying the wonderful feeling of unclutteredness. I did that last week end after helping my friend. My home not only felt uncluttered but also tidy and relatively clean, considering that fact that it had been a bit neglected over two weeks with all my comings and goings. Needless to say I could enjoy a well earned rest and left the housework for another few days.

  4. Excellent words Colleen. A practical piece of advice.
    I remember a program on TV analyzing too much choice. It concluded we function less to the point of not making a decision or staying with what we have.
    The overwhelming varieties of bread, milk, coffee etc. that we have to choose from each day is not good for our minds.
    If you have less to choose from it certainly makes it easy to live and make decisions .
    I did the same last year Jane W a wonderful experience that shows we can enjoy life with only a suitcase of clothes 🙂

    • WendyF – I remember recently I was having an ‘overload’ day and needed to buy dishwash liquid. Usually its a very simple decision for me (growing up there was a tv advert “you’re soaking in it”) Palmolive, but there was a budget line one that looked like cooking oil but was four times the quantity for the same price, there was one for sensitive skin, there was one that the dolphins like, there was on that would send on fifty cents to a particular charity and so on and so on.

      • Exactly what I mean Moni , too much choice ! Buy what you like and have used before. If you have enough money maybe buy a different brand to try as well..

    • Thanks Wendy, you are so right about being spoiled for choice. The choices out there are mind boggling.

  5. I thought I was doing so well, but now we are packing for a major remodel and I’m overwhelmed. Today, I put in the declutter pile: tea pot, stack of dishes, flower vases, tea cups/saucers.
    I refuse to divulge how many boxes of books we packed.

    • Willow – you’ve got the opportunity to do a packing party. Label every box with every item. Then when you move back in, only take out items as you need them and see what’s left after a couple of months.

      • Wonderful idea Moni. It will be a good way to see what you actually use Willow and as your packing up anyway, may as well take advantage of the opportunity.


    • Hi Willow and Moni. When my family returned from America we sent home our least used items (the bulk of our belongings) by sea freight three months prior to leaving. Then the most used items were sent by airfreight. I would suggest you pack up your items keeping the least loved or used (that you intend to keep) items together. Then don’t unpack them at the other end until you have a use for them. After six months if you haven’t unpacked them simply let them go. Chances are you will never miss them.

      • Colleen – I’m sure you were never in the same league as some of us when it came to being cluttered. But imagine how many tonnes of unnecessary household furniture and possessions are shifted across countries every day around the world.

        • Oh I have no doubt about that Moni. Not to mention the unwanted stuff sitting in storage units. All our furniture a bulky items went in to storage before we left. Many of them we didn’t want when we got home. Granted we didn’t expect to be in the USA for so long.

  6. Last year I gently suggested to my parents that we could start taking things out of their house that were not being used, not favorite items, just cluttering up the space. We got quite a few things cleared out and got a family conversation going about who might enjoy a rocking chair, dishes, tools etc.

    Now we are down to the last week until they move to a space one third the square footage. I wish we were much further along in the process but thankful that at least the conversation started awhile ago. It has helped shaped their thinking over the last months.

    There is a great feeling of loss for them and our family – in their new situation. But having already started the letting go of things a year ago at least has softened that particular aspect of the move.

    • Hi Vicki K, when I hear stories like this I thank heaven that I and my parents have spend our lives moving from house to house. Moving on isn’t so hard this way. However my husbands parents have lived in the same home for over 40 years and I dare say they will hang on there until they go. I have the same conversations with them that you have been having with yours.

      I sympathise with your and, particularly, your parents. I am just glad they realised that it had to be done and that you were there to help with the process.

  7. This is such a wonderful post. When life throws you a curve ball it is much less stressful if your home is decuttered and organized. At our church we organize meals, cleaning and general help for new mums, those that are ill or are going through a stressful time in their lives. I am very involved in the meals part as I love to cook. When you take meals into others home, it seems that the ones with less things to look after are calmer and recover more quickly.

  8. I think that this post really describes my motivations for decluttering and simplifying. Life can become so stressful when you’re least expecting it. If I can’t find what I need, need to spend hours cleaning for unplanned visitors, get sick or have to go away unexpectedly I have come to learn that having too much stuff makes all of those things more stressful and difficult. With age I am becoming less and less a fan of “surprises” in any form. So planning ahead for the unexpected by simplifying our lives has helped me deal better with life’s inevitable surprises. I’m still working on it but I think I’m almost to the place of fine tuning the little stuff. !!!!Happy dance!!!! I’m so glad to have this place to help motivate me! Thank you Colleen!!!!