Some things to think about

Just for the fun of it today I am just going to write a long list of some of the things that you could probably find to declutter. Things that I am sure you no longer want and, in some cases, never even wanted or needed in the first place. So without further adieu here it is ~ use it or lose it.

Anything you received free that you never needed ~ pens, coffee mugs, samples, badges, shopping bags, toys… , unwanted gifts, clothes that don’t fit, gadgets that aren’t useful, excess of anything, old make-up, books you’ll never read again, dust collectors, poor quality photos, old magazines (any topic in these can be easily sourced on the internet, old ~ and way out of date ~ university/collage papers, unwanted heirlooms, ugly houseplants, smelly plastic containers, old unfinished projects, outdated computer equipment, stuff the kids left behind when they moved out, shoes that hurt your feet, anything in your bedroom that isn’t conducive to a good night sleep, clothes that make you feel frumpy, sporting equipment you no longer use, bargains you wasted your hard earned cash on, project supplies that haven’t been used in a long time, unwanted hand-me-downs, I might need it some day items, uncomfortable anything.

Well that ought to be enough to get you thinking.

Y’all ave a nice weekend.

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter kitschy Christmas items like hand towels, oven mitts, socks etc. This mission is simply for my own amusement. I used to have all of these things and haven’t missed any of them.


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

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About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. Colleen, this is a good list. My aunt and uncle just moved from a house they had been in for 37 years. They came across plenty of the things on this list and then some. They kept more than I would but I am hoping that along the way as they unpack everything they will see more to toss.

    • Hi Deb, I am glad your aunt and uncle are on the right track. And thank heavens they are making the right steps before it is too late and someone else has to work through it all after they are gone. I wish more people would think like this.

  2. Got inspired and went through my pens, again. Threw out 9 nonworking pens, giving away 13 working. Still have several left to use. Got 1 paper cut in the process!
    Adding to give away pile – doll furniture & small pitcher for dispensing syrup when I make brunch once every 5 years.

    • Good Job Claire. I used to have so much stationery when I first began decluttering. Glad to see the back of it.

      • I also got rid of a large box of staples – I don’t have a stapler! I still saved a much smaller box “just in case” I get a stapler in the future…..Maybe that should go too?! Out went three packages of printable labels. I haven’t used these in several years.
        I have a decluttering dilemma – I have 3 tea pots. I have not used any of them in probably 2 years. I make single cups of tea mostly. Two match my everyday china pattern and were from my sister-in-law for our wedding and one more recently from MIL (but is the most expensive). The third tea pot is from our son. I have been in a quandary over which to save and which to get rid of if any. The prettiest is from my sister-in-law, the most useful is from our son, and the most expensive is from MIL. !!! I think I’m looking for a reason to get rid of at least one since it seems like such a waste that they just sit here unused but I can’t decide which!

        • Claire – Dilemna, Dilemna! I vote the prettiest one, if any.

          • Prettiest is staying for now Moni!! Thanks! I asked DH to weigh in on this one and he said only keep the one from our son, he thinks that one is the “nicest”. I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder! So I eliminated the obvious for now, teapot from MIL. I’ll keep weighing the pros and cons of the other two. Decluttering really happens in layers for me!

    • I periodically go through my pens. I haven’t bought any in years but the old stash I have is still around somehow.

  3. I can let go of the hat I made and wore to the Kentucky Derby (2009) and the hat box I bought to store I in. And, I know this sounds stupid, but Barbie made an anniversary doll for this KD (135th anniversary of the race) and I bought one. I am NOT a doll person so I don’t understand the insanity there, but hey, I did it. I’m also thinking about getting rid of that. I see them on ebay and the sellers want outrageous $ for them. Does anyone really make money off of Barbies??

    I am planning a Day O’Purge on Monday the 19th, which I have off for a holiday, but hubby still has to work. He’ll be out of my way and I can purge to my heart’s content!

    • Hey Michelle I would cash in on that Barbie while you can. Who knows when the interest in them might wane. It may be never but if you can get good money for it now and have one less thing cluttering up your house why not.
      Good luck on the 19th and enjoy the experience.

  4. Y’know, reading this blog has changed the way I look at certain things. Like my books. I used to disagree that books are clutter but I’ve come to realize, for myself, they are clutter if I’m not enjoying the stories between the covers. There is a small stack of books on the decluttering block right now.

    • Wow Rachel W, I don’t think you realise how big this realisation is. I would say, after writing this bog for five years that books are the one possession that are the hardest for people to part with. Be honest with me now ~ Would you say that you only kept the ones you didn’t like so they were still on display as proof of being read. Almost like a trophy to represent intelligence. I ask this because I don’t understand the need to keep books one isn’t likely to ever want to read again. Actually the thrifty person in me doesn’t even understand why one would buy them when you can read them for free from the library. But then again I am not much of a reader, which is exactly why the reasons behind this habit escapes me.

      • “A trophy to represent intelligence.” Yes, I used to feel this way. When I moved out of my parents’ home, I used to accumulate books like crazy only I didn’t read more than half of them! Since joining this community, I have given away POUNDS and POUNDS of books and my bookcases thank me for the weight off their shelves! 😉

      • Ah, books! That’s the one thing that practically everybody has strong feelings about. I used to have hundreds of books. Once I realised that I thought they “proved I was a reader” I thought who cares? So I got rid of practically all of them and now have 21 (just counted them)! I do read several books a week, half from the library and half on my Kindle. The ones I have kept are reference books for my crafts. I won’t buy any more as you can get all the inspiration and patterns that you want off the internet these days.

        I have now got rid of 1,510 items or bags of items and I don’t miss any of them!

      • Colleen – I didn’t view my book collection as a trophy to my intelligence, to me books were comforting and LOL I’m not really an intellectual reader, I prefer fiction. It would be like saying I have two sewing machines to prove I am a good sewer. I was raised in a family who weren’t recreational readers, when I met my biological mother and got to know her family and relatives, they were all book collectors, so maybe its something in the DNA. I have heaps and heaps of books on my kobo instead now and although it technically would be considered digital clutter but I’m happy being able to re-read a book as I want. I saw a neighbour pack hundreds and hundreds of books when they shifted, whereas I would put my kobo in my handbag and be good to go.

  5. Aside from not having magazines and not wearing makeup, there is plenty from this list I can work on. I think I’m going to keep it around as I hit a bit of a plateau in decluttering in the last two days – I want to get rid of a LOT more but. Everything seemed so useful…

    (On the other hand, given workplace bullying just forced me out of my job, perhaps I can be forgiven my distraction.)

    So, unlike the mini-missions I have plenty to do here. Nice list and thank you; it was very well-timed!

    • workplace bullying? oooh that sounds bad, if it resulted in the loss of your job… so sorry to hear that 🙁

      • Thanks Peggy. I have a fledgeling mini-business and some savings, I’ll make it work. The best part is in a week I’ll be out of there, I’m happier already. I did put over a hundred embroidery threads in the donate pile – not even a quarter of my collection, but I’m proud, it’s a big weakness of mine.

        • Your situation reminded me of the saying, that when one door closes, we focus so hard on the closed door that we fail to see the other door that opens. You have chosen to focus on the open door … good for you! I wish you well for your business, Niriel.

        • Hi Peggy, this sounds like a potential Probotunity ( a problem that is an opportunity in disguise). I hope everything turns out for the best. I will give some advice though. When I feel depressed about something or life just isn’t going my way, stead of sitting around moping, I find it best to do something useful, such as decluttering, cleaning, organising, crafting… . It is too easy to throw your hands up and veg on the sofa but being useful is great medicine.

  6. I have been a little re-shuffling in the last weeks (christmas decorations, guests, etc. etc.), and now things are settling back to “normal” I did a little experiment. I had a bookcase (or actually a room, which only holds that bookcase, a bed and a little empty desk) empty and assembled my personal belongings (books, sentimental stuff, trinkets etc.) in it, so seperated them from boyfriend’s stuff and the “useful household stuff” like kitchenware, cleaning supplies etc. I was pretty pleased to realize I could easily fit them all into a college-dorm/shared-room style of living again – and with fit I don’t mean live in a totally crammed room, but still having a nice, reasonably clutterfree room. That’s an amount of personal things I’m very comfortable with.
    Now on to our kitchen once again… 😉

    • Wow Sanna, it is great that your personal belongings fit within the boundaries that you set… and that they do not look cluttery there… That is a happy circumstance! 🙂

  7. I made the decision this year to release my two remaining holiday dish towels. I haven’t missed any Christmas decorations I have decluttered. It took just a few minutes to set up the remaining ones this past Christmas and to put them away, and the house didn’t feel crowded. I am ready to get rid of almost everything left and decorate with a poinsettia and some candles and some paper snowflakes made with my grandchildren.

    • I think that is what I will always want to do for Christmas decor as well. My parents bought these fancy artificial wreaths and swags when I was a kid and they were beautiful but horrible dust magnets. We made paper snowflakes this year and they were so perfect and cheap. We always had beautiful trees decked out in hand-blown ornaments, but for our home we do the simple tree with warm white lights and it strikes the perfect atmosphere. I think those things have their place, but I feel for something you store for most of the year and only use for such a short while, less really is more.

  8. What a great list! And SO true. We all have so many things that are on your list lurking in drawers and cupboards. I am now getting rid of things as they arrive to hopefully stop these in the future.
    For example:
    1. When you have read a paperback either pass it on to a friend with a label that says ‘ I don’t want it back. Just pass on to someone else or the Charity Shop’.
    2. If you are offered anything (clothes, craft supplies , books etc ) that someone else is getting rid of, think long and hard before you say Yes. Learn to politely say ‘ No, I don’t think I can make use of them’.
    3. If you receive a gift that isn’t to your taste, immediately take it to the Charity Shop.
    4. Keep on top of your mail by immediately putting into the recycle bin Junk mail, flyers, brochures for holidays, clothes etc that you will never want. Otherwise they will lurk in corners or on countertops gathering dust!

    In this way you can stop clutter collecting. You know you don’t want/need/like these things so just say NO.

    Of course I still have loads of things to declutter from before I learned to say No and all the things on your list that have accumulated over the years. However I am gradually getting rid of loads and have been for a few years.
    Happy decluttering New Year!

    • Excellent suggestions, Linda. I’m am on board for donating gifts not to my taste, but my husband feels if someone thinks enough of you to give you a gift, you should keep it. Yikes! It takes me a while, but sometimes I can get him to part with an unloved gift. 🙂

    • Hi Linda, good list of ways to cut the clutter off at the pass there. I would add, in relation to those flyers, do your best to stop them coming in altogether. They are a waste of paper and a temptation to acquire more clutter.

  9. I have probably gotten rid of at least one (if not way more) of each item you listed there in the last couple weeks. With some time off work from the holidays, I took a long hard look around my house to see what needed to go. I took two large bags of clothes to Goodwill prior to the holidays, and I already have one huge overflowing bag to get rid of since then. I went through all my magazines and recycled dozens (and there is still another stack in the upstairs bathroom now that I think about it). Piles of paper have gotten whittled down or completely gotten recycled. I have come to the point where I try and do a little each day, sometimes without thinking about it.

  10. We just moved into a slightly smaller space and I am finding that I still have too much although I did declutter a lot when we moved. Yikes. The bathroom actually has plenty of space and one empty shelf. But the storage… I think on my days off I may do a ‘declutter one item every HOUR’.
    My ‘office’ is my desk and I do all lesson prep there so I have a ‘mess’ of papers around it. That comes and goes but it is always ‘there’.
    I have two issues that I deal with regarding items offered from other people. My 88 yo neighbor often offers me things. She tries to declutter a bit off and on, so I always accept whatever she gives me and then deal with it. I figure I am helping her clean out her house and she doesn’t care (or remember) what happens to the things she gives me. Also, teachers receive all kinds of gifts from students, especially at holidays. Often I receive consumables or gift cards, but if a child gives me an item, I give it away to a charity in the next county over from us (Los Angeles County) so it never gets back in to ‘circulation’ in a place the child/parent will see it and recognize it.

  11. I take all my unused pens & stationary stuff into work now, we always need pens as they always seem to go home with someone, so I usually take a few into work with me & they don’t last long. Any coffee mugs I no longer want also go into the work tea room & are always greatfully received & used – much better than adding to the numerous coffee mugs at my local charity shops & if broken no loss to anyone

    • Hi Sharon B and welcome to 365 Less Things. Smart plan taking the excess stationery in to your work place. I have had other readers who have done this. I tool a lot to a local school at one stage. They were very grateful.

  12. These past few days I have been decluttering and thought “I am not getting any younger – going on 67, why am I keeping fabric from years ago.

    I bought it when I was much younger and I could wear loud florals etc. There comes a time in everyone’s life I think, when you have to let go “and act your age” 🙂 So now I have a heavy bag full of fabric ready to go to the charity shop and let someone else maybe enjoy it.

    Once it is out the door, I know I won’t miss it, and made space of other things that are “in my face”, which I can put in place of the fabrics.

    Also decided to go through my filing cabinet and throw out papers, receipts etc.
    Some receipts were so old the ink has faded the details. Some of these legible ones, I entered main details on an Excel file (or Word if you like), and shredded the receipts. I only recorded details of big items like new fridge, sofas etc just for curiosity of how much we have spent on these types of items.

    Went through old bank statements too, these I just shredded. Whatever happened to the “paperless office” 🙂 What a lovely feeling of freedom.

    Now I can tackle some things on this new list. Thank you all.

  13. Hi Colleen,

    I still love my stationery (notepads, notebook paper, copy paper), pens, and jumbo paper clips… I actually tried to buy more paper clips recently, the plain metal kind… as you have noted, it seems the vendors want to sell a bin of 1000 when all you really want is 50. (I held out for the 50 pack!). I don’t need to buy any paper… but had an extra little notebook that I have determined a use for and I’m really pleased. I’m making it my (clutter free) gift idea book. That way it is separate from the chore / buy list notebook that I frequently leave sitting out in plain view. I have one type of pen that I like, keep them in a handy mug where I pay bills… we have a ‘kleptomaniac’ in the household who regularly runs off with them, so I had to buy a bunch more… It all makes me chuckle because it is the exact opposite of what you describe (pens and paper clips multiplying while your back is turned).

    I sorted through ALL my receipts tonight and tossed any that referred to stuff I no longer have. The receipt folder is slimmer now 🙂

    We have somehow collected quite a stash of window envelopes that I’m using up as we pay on student loans, even though it means that I have to use the aforementioned notebook paper and carefully hand print the payment address, then fold the page just so that it will show in that window… a nuisance for sure but the envelopes are dwindling LOL

    On an unrelated note, I bought a hat several years ago to wear out walking in the winter as it has not only a brim to keep the snow off my glasses, but an attached scarf to hold it on and keep the neck covered. Well, there are a few issues with this hat. It looks hideous on me, the scarf part is not warm, and we no longer walk outside in the winter. So… finally it made its way into the donate box tonight, totally never worn!

    I had purchased a 6 month supply of Restasis for my dry eyes last summer. I was also taking flax seed oil capsules (internally) for this issue for awhile and later realized that my eyes were no longer so dry, that I didn’t need the Restasis. So I called the eye doctor the other day and they accepted my prescription as a donation. Win/win, that box is out of here and the doc can provide the product to someone in need.

    Went through my bedroom closet shelf the other day. Took out all those vinyl zippered bags that linens come in, except for the comforter one since I will need that if it ever gets warm again LOL. They are now in my garage stash of vinyl bags to use for throwing out or recycling sharp or breakable items. Not sure that is an actual declutter, but my closet looks better 🙂

    Now wondering what will be the next item to go… 🙂

    • Sounds like you have been a busy lady with the decluttering and organising. Good for you! Just remember the best sort of organising is decluttering because the stuff never has to be organised again and what is left is easier to keep organised.
      Like your zip bags, I tend to still put aside odd little items that I think I might find a use for in the future. However if these items aren’t used after a reasonable period of time or start to build up I declutter at least some of them. I am a sucker for useful items, as are you by the sounds of things, but I find I have to be realistic as to the ratio of available space and what is clutter regardless of its usefulness.
      I also had a pen kleptomaniac in my house, only this one took the pens from elsewhere and brought them home. I do wonder in your case ~ are them pens actually gone or just stashed somewhere else in the home. Perhaps a pen round up is all you need in the future rather than going out and acquiring more pens.
      Well done taking the Restasis back to the optometrist. That was a more responsible action rather than just throwing it away. You get a gold star for that effort.

      • I checked with the local kleptomaniac before purchasing more pens… she doesn’t have any idea where those pens are… If they surface later, I will just add them to my stash. Since I am a paper lover, I do use up pens at a good rate (budget, Sudoku, chore lists, work details…)…

        I agree on the “may be useful” items… I will revisit the zippered vinyl bags, etc if they start to climb out of their boundary (box in garage)… Since we enter the house through the garage most of the time, I have a chance to notice when things get out of bounds LOL

        I also agree on the decluttering versus organizing front, always looking to improve there… I used to hold on tightly to many things, save things “for good”, etc… now I’m saying things like, “well, I don’t use that anymore, do you want it? Could you use this item for X?” Got rid of a few tubes of shave cream that way because I prefer depilatories. Passed on a (working) electric blanket because the cord was getting tangled in the swivel rocking chair I was using it in.

        It’s so good to have some progress to report! And thanks for the gold star 🙂

  14. A big across the board quick fire cull – sounds like fun!

    I have been helping a friend get ready for a downsize and yesterday we put heaps of stuff on a Face Book Buy and Sell page for our area. It’s quite informal, no listing fees, no success fees, no feedback points, no carefully worded descriptions, just a photo, price, pick up area and a very brief description. I’d highly recommend anyone with e-bay fatigue tries this option as its pick- up only and any questions are dealt with in the ‘comments’ and the first person to call ‘dibs’ has first option to buy. Interested people can make a counter offer on the price which sometimes seals the deal without reserve prices. Most communication thru FB Messenger and listings get deleted when the transaction is finished. So I’d recommend looking for such a page in your area.

    We sold in one day, two different lounge suites, two bookcases, a lathe and some smaller stuff. I wasnt able to help at their place today but as the listings were under my profile, I received several messages early this morning requesting other items. With their permission I updated the listings to have my friends house phone number so I didn’t miss any requests, I know a Butchers Block sold and a ping pong table which wasn’t even initially included in things for sale. My friend said other things sold today but she had more buyers at the front door, so couldn’t chat when I rang. She is very happy with the extra money and also the thought that she won’t have to shift these excess items when they move into a smaller house!

    • Hi Moni, you inspired me to check out Facebook to see if there was such a Buy Swap and Sell site for my city. Lo and behold there was. So I Liked the page and will remember that in the future should I need to decluttering things that I once used to list in Freecycle. The Freecycle site here wasn’t that user friendly and then they changed it and I lost interest. No having anything to list there probably had a lot to do with my lack of effort to adapt. And living in an apartment I can usually just leave free items in a box in the foyer and they disappear soon enough. The have recently added a hall table in the foyer where packages are left by the mail man so that would be a good place for the box in future.

  15. You have cast a wide net, Colleen. I’d be surprised (gobsmackingly so) if anybody is unable to come up with at least one item.

  16. Anything you received free that you never needed … that sums it up perfectly for me. We have a smart neighbor who hands out things on Halloween that his kids brought home from parties or kids meal toys. I used to be a note pad and notebook freak. Now I have the one note pad and one notebook.

    • Hi Jean, you might need to have a chat with Peggy, who commented above, she seems to still have a love of multiple notebooks. Perhaps you can share with her how you convinced yourself to reduce down to one.

      • haha someone at work asked why I didn’t use my iPhone notepad for making notes… I don’t know if it’s just my phone because it is an old 3 version, but the notepad feature is totally annoying… I have to tap, tap, tap ~ forever to get the typing keyboard to come up, by which time I’ve totally forgotten what I wanted to note LOL

  17. I just realized after making my comment how hypocritical I am. My sister-in-law had her husband dump off this ugly corner sectional at our house. We wished we had asked for a photo before accepting it but it is a white micro-suede, which will be destroyed in my home. We have leather here and will never go back to fabric, and now I remember why. She had wanted to give it to someone who could use it but it is the wrong size (much too big) and shape for the space we have for it. Plus it’s just unattractive. Now we are stuck disposing of it and it’s taking up a lot of floor space right now and we don’t own a truck to take it to the thrift store. Uggghhh. And this particular person we got it from is the type who will call and ask how we like it and guilt us if she finds out it’s gone. Another lesson not to let someone else’s clutter problem become yours. It was free but we are paying for it now!

    • Jean, I know what you mean 🙂 Don’t the Thrift shops come and pick up? Also if your SIL asks you what happened to it, you can tell her it is gone to another loving home. Not easy I know, people do make you feel guilty don’t they.

    • Hi Jean, in my experience the thrift stores will usually come to you to pick up good condition items of furniture.

  18. Your list fit me perfectly today. Some of the items I haven’t gotten to yet. I dusted the other day and that’s a great time to declutter. I call it getting rid of decoclutter. Simplify is my motto in life and reading your posts is helping me tremendously. Minimalistic is my goal because it really helps my mental health. Clutter in the house has always driven me crazy and I thought I was doing a good job. WRONG. I still have lots more to go. I’ve lost track of Goodwill trips over the years. My Mom used to say I’d end up buying something I gave to Goodwill. LOL. Thank you for all your help and keep these great ideas coming!

  19. Debbie, you sound so much like me. I could have written your post 🙂

    That is my new goal in life too. Live a simpler life. The less I have, the happier I feel.

    Mentally it works wonders. Keep posting your progress.

  20. Hi Colleen, Yes I do stop as many fliers as possible but some still sneak through. Unfortunately the Royal mail delivers adverts for companies and they come with the post. Haven’t got around yet to find out how to stop these too.