Still finding things to declutter.

People often say to me “I am surprised you are still finding things to declutter!” Actually even I am surprised at some of the things I find at times. Especially those odd things that appear that make me think  ~ How did that escape my notice for so long?! The egg timer I decluttered last week would be a good example of this.

I think what most people don’t realise is the sheer number of individual items that make up an average modern household. Heaven forbid they should start to divide out and add up all those individual items that really aren’t utilised enough to warrant the space they occupy. Items that although definitely have a use in the household could really be lived without. Which is a part of what keeps me finding one more thing each day to declutter.

Lets add up how many Items of the Day I have decluttered so far since I pledged to remove a thing a day for the year of 2010. At one a day for the first year that’s 365 items. Then one thing every Monday to Friday in the second year is another 260 items. Then there has been one thing every Monday to Friday so far this years which makes about another 212 items. Giving me a total of 837 items so far. That may sound like a lot of stuff and it is especially when you consider there are often daily “items” that are actually multiple items which would increase the number greatly. That is also a big number considering most of these items were sitting unused and unloved. I should imagine, that when I am finally done with my declutter mission, there will still be plenty of individual items left in my home. Though, I would hope, a lot less than the average home.

All that being said I have no idea how many more items I will send out the door before I am finished. I know I still have barely skimmed the surface of photos that need sorting. I have several items I still intend to list on ebay. In my opinion the baseball souvenirs could still do with some more serious culling. I am on a continuous mission to use up craft supplies. As mentioned many times, I have boxes of my daughters things that will leave once she is settled into a more permanent home. And as I have said from the start, I get more ruthless as I go along and that ruthlessness is the main thing that has me finding that next item to declutter every day. 

I have no immediate need to minimise any faster than I am. I am also satisfied that very little enters the house so I am staying well ahead of the game. I experiment as I go alone to see if I can do without certain things and if so they are out of here. And I have to say I am actually enjoying the process. I have learned so much about myself along the ways and also made improvement to the person I was before I began. I am certainly more environmentally conscious that’s for sure.

Sure I could ramp up the pace if I wanted to and be done decluttering but then I would run out of things to write about here at 365 Less Things. Then where would I be without my wonderful community to chat with everyday.

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter something you have been considering for removal for some time.

Today’s Declutter Item

My husband found these three belts that no longer fit or are just excess to his needs. After all one really only need  one brown leather belt.


Eco Tip for the Day

Save on note paper by using a whiteboard to leave messages for family members, room mates or yourself for that matter. I have discovered that the front of my stainless steel fridge works just like a whiteboard. Now if I could just stop my wise guy son from leaving cheeky messages. Scoundrel!!

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 enjoyed this post, Colleen.

    Just this weekend I happened across my electric knife. I’ve used it maybe three times in the thirty-some years I’ve had it. I think it’ll be going to the thrift shop for somebody else to use.

    A knife from my drawer works just fine for any meat carving we do.

    • One piece of somewhat clutter came back to the house with me this weekend, and your post made me think of it. For the last 3 years, I’ve been slicing my cheese with a knife, and my mom just gave me a cheese slicer…. one of her 4. I suppose I will see how well it works, because I do love cheese. No electric knives for me though, I’m trying to be as independent from electronics as I can. Good on you for getting rid of yours 🙂

      • Grace from Brazil

        I had considered my electric knife to be just an extra utensil until I learned that it slices fresh made bread without squashing it, like a regular knife. It never entered my mind how to multi-purpose that beyond the idea of using it for that annual turkey. Then my sil told me that weekly she will cook a huge piece of meet in her crockpot such as beef, ham or turkey so that she can slice her own cold cuts for her kids lunches. An electric knife gives you nice thin slices. Since I can’t get deli roast beef here this is a great option, plus if I cook and slice my own is it healthier (no nitrates.) Yes, pitch it if you don’t use it but there are some other ways to use that knife.

        • No need to justify the electric knife, Grace. If it is in regular service then it isn’t clutter so go for it. If you are interested in other tasks for it you will find it will slice through foam very well too. Handy if you are a crafter or like to upholster furniture.

          • Grace from Brazil

            I did sound like that didn’t I! Ha! I guess I also wanted others to consider its different purposes. I only was used to seeing it as used on special occasions until I began to realize other uses. : )

        • I love this. These are clever ideas and your sil found a way to eliminate processed meat and its packaging! Almost make me want to buy an electric knife… just kidding, I’ll stick to my knives. We should always try to think out of the box to multiply the different uses of what we own.

      • Hi Amanda,
        I had one of those cheese slicers once. Enough said that it is gone.

    • Glad you enjoyed it Becky. Good choice for the declutter item. I sent an electric knife on its way a while back. Just like you I hardly used it.

      • I love my cheese slicer 😉
        But I recently said no to a capsule coffee machine I was generously offered for free (mum bought a fancier one). I sure received some raised eyebrows for declining. I guess, some time ago I would have happily accepted though I really don’t drink enough coffee at home to justify having a machine for it. Today I feel happy to have kept my freedom not only from the clutter but also from the potential addiction of using such a machine frequently and drink way more coffee than I do today (I found out that coffee enhances migraines, apparently at least with some people, and since I only drink in a few times per week instead of one or more cups a day I hardly ever had headaches any more.) I am glad to be free of needing to purchase a certain product which (though tasty for sure) is overpriced and supports a marketing system I don’t like. I kept my freedom to simply go out for a coffee or support fairtrade coffee, small firms or local roasters when buying coffee. Thinking in “declutter modus” you sometimes gain so much more than you lose 🙂

        • Hi Ideealistin,
          I am with you on the coffee machine. Although it would be nice to be able to make good coffee at home I would rather have an excuse to go out for one. I appreciate it much more that way.

          I like your statement “Thinking in “declutter modus” you sometimes gain so much more than you lose.” I know this to be true.

          • I would always prefer a latte macchiato, made by small espresso cans and simple foamed milk, over a capsule coffee, because my experience is that coffee from machines dont taste as good. they are not worth the space they need. AND you are always forced to buy a specific coffee brand, and I love to try different coffee brands…
            “Thinking in “declutter modus” you sometimes gain so much more than you lose” – well said!

  2. Good post, Colleen. I think that we tend to pass over things as we are looking at a room, drawer, closet because we still have a tendency to think “I may need that” or “We are using those.” We don’t alway get rid of evrything that needs to go the first or even second time through.

    • Hi Deb J, I rarely use the reason of “I may need that these days.” I generally delve into a drawer thinking “What can I get rid of in here.” Hence why I can’t explain the egg timer still being here. That is one drawer that is always under scrutiny. I do ask the question “We are using those?” a lot though.

  3. Colleen – I have been wondering how someone like you – ie never in the league the rest of us were – could still have stuff coming out of your house?

    I had someone in yesterday to measure and quote for replacement blinds in our kitchen (usually we wait to upgrade/update until we decide we are shifting on but they look so awful now compared to my lovely lounge) and the saleslady thought we were putting the house on the market in the next week. Why? Real estate agents often ask clients to put half their stuff into off-site storage to make their houses look bigger/more spacious and she thought that is what we must have done. Awwww how cute! No that’s just how we try to live these days.

    • I was helping my boyfriend’s parents clean their living room up for a photoshoot the other day, and they were like “WHERE ARE ALL OUR PILLOWS GOING!”
      They just went to to the other room because the wood shelves certainly didn’t need a dozen pillows to look nice. When I came back later, the photographer had moved even MORE stuff out of the living room. I found it quite amusing, because I can only imagine the reaction his parents had to the photographer moving their stuff.

    • Grace from Brazil

      Oh I think that is wonderful! It seems like you are getting things where you want them to be!

    • Hi Moni,
      perhaps I was only kidding myself that I wasn’t in the league with the rest of you to begin with. Maybe that’s because I am a very tidy person so most of my clutter was always tucked away neatly out of sight.

      But then again maybe it is just that I am determined to dwindle our stuff down to a much smaller quantity because as I have always said, we want to be free to travel more in our retirement or semi retirement.

      I know what you are saying about staging homes for selling. Or more to the point I can surely pick the ones that haven’t been staged for selling. My heavens, some of the ones we have viewed during our house search have been horrendous. I don’t know how they live like that. And being a renter is no excuse because I am one and my house is clean and tidy.

      • Colleen – LOL – the clues were there, you are not materialistic, you have always been frugal and occasionally during a comment I’ll click ie the toy decluttering one, when some of us were talking about bedroom floors and cupboards full of toys and you were talking about a small precious collection per child.

        Adrian was quite entertained by the idea of showcasing. Friends of ours, she is a minimalist, leading up to them shifting into their new house, every day her husband went home from work there was another piece of furniture missing. She’d already figured out what furniture was going where on the houseplan and pre-empted shifting what didn’t work with her new floor plan by selling it in advance on trademe. One day he went home to grab a cold drink from the fridge and the fridge was gone (they were getting a built in one in the new house) as someone had grabbed on buynow for a high price, so they had to get by for two weeks without one.

        • What a hoot getting rid of the fridge like that. Smart lady. Whjy move it twice?!

        • Oh my Moni, there are plenty of things that I could live without but the fridge isn’t one of them. Orrrrr maybe if only for a couple of weeks. My hubby would just have to take me out every night for dinner. I am beginning to like this idea. Heee heee!!

          • Deb j & Colleen – he had to go and get a small bottle of milk each morning for breakfast and they’d collect dinner fixings on the way home. And I suspect there were dinners out.

            He also came home to find his drawers gone and everything in a suitcase – she’d mentioned the idea of building in some drawers into the walk-in wardrobe – and the guy who’d come to pick up something else from trademe (something minor) mentioned he was in the market for a bedroom suite and so the deal was done on the spot. And of course, this meant she got the walk-in wardrobe that she wanted.

    • Don’t you just love that, Moni?? People always are saying our house is so neat and clean. We called in a housekeeping service to see if they would do our house twice a month and they said they couldn’t justify charging their fee for a house as clean as ours. That was pretty cool.

  4. Good post, Colleen!
    Like Deb J pointed out, I also think that we fall for the “might” and “maybe” often enough. I do, for sure. I gave four sets of sheets away last week and I could probably have given away two more, but I thought that I might need them and – already having decluttered four sets – my stack didn’t seem that high after all. Maybe in a few months, I’ll wonder why I didn’t give them away as well.
    I also find that I’m often just so used to having a particular item around that I just never come around reconsidering whether I need it. I can imagine that something like that was the case with your egg timer. It has just “always” been there, so you somehow didn’t see it at all when you looked at it.

    • Hi Sanna,
      when it comes to the sheets I have five queen sets for two beds which is two sets more than I need. I don’t look at them and think “I might need them someday.” because I know I will need them “some” day because eventually some pairs will wear out. What I think when I see them is ” Those extra two sets don’t take up much space and for now they fit easily enough into this house.

      Should we move to somewhere smaller and they don’t fit then they will have to go.” There are many things scattered throughout my home that are earmarked for removal should I not have the space to store them. That being said my cupboards all have plenty of space in them right now.

      It doesn’t always make economic sense to get rid of certain things that will or are being used just for the sake of making space you don’t need unless they are way in excess of what you need.

      You are right about the egg timer too. It kept getting looked past simply because it has always been there. Always!!!

      • You both are right, they really will be needed some day, I just can’t tell whether this some day will be soon enough to justify keeping them.
        As I’m always walking to the thrift store, I am amazed at how heavy these things are that I give away. It’s just grocery bags full each trip, but my arms are getting longer and longer and I’m relieved when I can actually drop it off there. (it’s not a particularly far walk, I guess about 5-7 minutes)
        I always imagine having to drag around all these bags I drop there over the year all at once on moving day and am happy that I’m lessening the load each day.

    • Sanna – in one of life’s ironies I have just had to go and buy a double fitted sheet because the elastic just went in my daughter’s one and I’ve been running things off-wash-dry-back on same day. I thought about repairing the elastic but the sheet is rather worn out, its been in active duty for many years and its now heading to the rag bin at work.

  5. Grace from Brazil

    I think we develop some kind of myopia that keeps us from seeing it all at once. It is great how my vision has cleared as I continue to sort and and sift my stuff. And as my vision clears my decision making becomes more rational. I looked at a teapot on Sunday that I have not used in a year or so. It used to be very important as I would have tea time with my children. Well, the one who enjoyed it most is now in college and my youngest who would still be open to having tea….doesn’t like brewed tea! My son would rather that we sat down for a coke. A year ago I could not have gotten rid of the tea pot, now it an easy decision. But my problem is what will go there? It is in a promient spot in a glass paneled cabinet. I am sure I will find something.

    • Hi Grace,
      you are so right about the myopia which is why the slow and steady approach works so well.

      As for that teapot perhaps it just wasn’t ready for decluttering a year ago because it was still being used and enjoyed. Would this be something that you would ask your daughter, who used to enjoy tea from it with you in the past, does she want kept for her to take when she leave. Or would that just seem like an excuse to allow it to linger. I always ask my family members about items like, this that we have enjoyed together, before decluttering them. Just because I no longer want it doesn’t mean they don’t. These items are few though so it isn’t a situation of keeping too many sentimental items.

      • Grace from Brazil

        I had not planned on checking with her but you are so right. You can never know what someone might be thinking with this type of thing. When I gave away some art pieces a few weeks ago I mentioned it to this daughter, who is away at school, and she surprised by mentioning some other art that we have and said to not give that away. I am so glad she did because mentally I was already planning on decluttering those as well. Better safe than sorry.

  6. I like that post. it is very encouraging that you are still decluttering things a lot, when I come to a platform where nothing comes up anymore.

    I had an experience recently, that made me realize that I have a lot of items “just in case”: I decided to reuse an old purse instead of the current one after it broke. so this new purse had an extra side pocket, in which I put a plaster, just in case I need one, I remember feeling super smart while installing that… its been there for months now and just last week, I tripped over, hurt my knee and asked friends for a plaster, because it didnt even occur to me, I had one in my purse – I did search in my toilet bag though. So I got the plaster there at my friends, got home from my trip and accidentally washed my purse in the washing machine. ha. now while the euro-notes appear to be rather robust, and the cards were not harmed at all, I pulled out this soaking wet, destroyed plaster. and started laughing. why on earth would I put a plaster in a purse? it doesnt belong there (but money/card-related things), and most importantly: when I needed one, I forgot I had it there. long story short: no more plaster in purse, but only money related things.
    I have to forcefully remind myself, that I need to follow the logic “same goes with same” and “items have ONE home”. there is no need to scatter potentially useful items everywhere, when in need of them, I turn to the logic home – in this case the toilet bag when travelling – the medicine cabinet when home. a similar thing is going on with tampons with many women, I switched to a ladycup recently and decided after 4 months that I will never ever use tampons again, so I gave them all away. no more tampons in no more bags ever again.

    • Lena you have just reminded me what a state my wallet is in at the moment with receipts and till slips and whatnot. Will go and do it now.

    • Great comment Lena. The Boy Scout mentality of always being prepared can get out of hand sometimes although I think one little plaster isn’t pushing the limits much. I keep pain killers in my purse at all time and you would be surprised how often they are used, if not by me then someone else who doesn’t carry them.
      Needless to say that after my recent hysterectomy I no longer need to carry tampons either or any other feminine hygiene product. Oh the JOY!!! You would also be surprised at how much toilet paper this is saving me as well.

    • Grace from Brazil

      This is a great principle. When I seem to divide stuff up, some bandaids (plaster, right? ) in one place and then some more in another place I can never remember where any of it is. The one home idea is super! I can identify with that smug feeling when I do something like that (putting something in several places) and it NEVER works. I do add in my purse lipstick, a swiss army card, pain reliever, a note pad, pen, mints, wallet and phone. My purse is very small . I refuse to get a bigger one so that I don’t load it with more stuff. I sometimes wish it were a bit bigger for my kindle but I since I only have one purse it will do for now…but may be in the future when I am in the US and can get to a thrift store : ) I will trade it for just a bit more room.

      • Grace from Brazil – I’m eyeing up the new mini-kobo coming on the market soon as I carry my kobo everywhere with me – I know that some will feel two kobo’s is a bit extreme but apparently 37 books is the break even point for plastic e-reader versus paper books AND my kobo-touch is starting to look a bit battered despite the cover I have for it. Was thinking of keeping the mini one in my handbag. Just an idea at this point and they’re not even available in NZ yet.

        • Moni, I’ve been in a elecectronics retailer yesterday. (a place where I visit less than once a year) Oh my, I saw that kobo-touch and was hooked. It looked great! I think, I may switch to e-books quite soon as well.

    • I do have a plaster in my wallet. I use it often enough. However, I’m used to it as I carry a plaster in my wallet since I’ve been about 14 years old.
      I don’t carry many more items though, I’m usually the only woman around without a handbag.

      • me neither, I often get the weird looks, when I do this gesture of tapping down all pockets, checking if I have “keys, purse, mobile” with me. although I have to say, as soon as I need more stuff with me (like a water bottle in summer) I am glad to switch to a handbag. and in summer, when you just dont have enough pockets to wear anymore.

        • I won’t declutter my handbag(s) soon either. – I still have a use for a tiny one to replace a pocket when wearing only a pocketless dress (mostly in summer) and a bigger one when I need to bring something along (a book, a bottle of water, a sweater, etc.) – but in most cases, I don’t need one. And I’m actually horrified when seeing what other women drag around with them. The average handbag is really heavy, holding all these “necessities” I can really live without.

          • I don’t carry a purse very often but just a little change purse type thing I carry in a pocket. I have a small purse I carry when I have no pocket and am going to be going several places. I’ve been looking for something big enough to carry my Kindle in. If I find that I will probably get rid of the other purse.

  7. Even after everything I’ve already decluttered…..I don’t for one minute believe that I had (or still have) anywhere near the amount of items my friends have.

    The things I have so far decluttered were actually things no one could tell we ever owned because they were all shadow items (what I call those items lurking inside cabinets, drawers, Rubbermaid storage containers, aspirational clothing in the back of the closet, any random box stored in the attic, etc).

    The items I have gotten rid of that were out in plain sight tended to be home decor accessories & plants.

    I’ve always been super tidy & organized so those shadow items were squirreled away rather neatly, albiet in quantity, in any & every hidden location through-out my home.

    Recently, I declared my kitchen as completely decluttered…but then out of the random blue did I get the inclination to remove all the kitchen drawers & take a peek. Well rats. Turns out 2 sushi rolling mats, a wine stopper & a misplaced pot holder had made their way up & over the back edge of the drawer & came to rest on a little cabinet support shim.

    I snatched up those lingering interlopers, admonished their presence in my decluttered kitchen & banished them to the donation store box. Kapow!
    Shoot first, ask questions later is my new motto for decluttering!

    • I like your label of Shadow Items, that is mostly what I day too, things lurking in the shadows.
      I am not ready to declare my kitchen clutter free yet. In fact the mention of kitchen items has me thinking that the flour sifter that I own that used to belong to my grandmother really doesn’t get used these days and can be decluttered. I am sure there are still other kitchen items I can’t think of off the top of my head. Compared to what my kitchen was like before I started decluttering it is now quite minimal indeed.

  8. Great post, Colleen! As I mentioned before, after living without most of my possessions for seven months, and living with only the bare essentials to sustain our household, it really gave me the boost that I needed to rid myself of unneeded items. I guess that can be similar to those who box their items up to see if they really miss those things over time. My boxes were just out of sight in storage. I think also that as I am getting older, you realize the energy that it takes to keep up these items and over time their importance in life diminishes. I am also trying to be a better consumer and trying not to let as much stuff come back in the house as is leaving the house. In addition, I am on the “use it up” plan for many items and trying not to replace items unless absolutely necessary. I will be off to the Goodwill with another deposit this week, but there is still work yet to be done. Don’t ramp up the pace, I like this wonderful community 🙂 !

    • Hi Jen and thank you for weighing in.
      If only we all had the wisdom of how little we really need when we are young. Although it is more of a want than a need. Like you I have gotten wiser as I have gotten older but I wish I could get this message across to my daughter. I envy those who have worked this out earlier. I always lived within my means but still accumulated too much stuff. Granted it always fitted neatly into my house but it was still too much.

      Like you, I lived without some of my stuff while it sat in storage for seven years. Some of those things were the first to go when we came back. In the meantime though we has accumulated even more stuff than we had left behind. Mind you we weren’t expecting to be gone so long either. But no excuses it was simple overconsumption. Lived and learned.

    • Jen – I agree with age comes sensibility. Hopefully. Six months ago my hubby fought to keep his un-used one-man tent for his dream trip of a motorbike tour of the South Island. Can I mention he doesn’t actually have a motorbike or motorbike license? Anyway, we came across it the other day and he asked why we still have that tent. I tried very hard not to re-act. I asked him, didn’t he have it in mind for his roadtrip? He looked at me and said at his age he wants to sleep on a bed at the end of a long day travelling and he’d rather book into a motel or a pub-stay or B&B. Okaaaaayyyyy.

      • Men’s memory makes for priceless moments sometimes 😉
        (and yeah, sometimes it is plain annoying. I am trying very hard to instill the thought that if YOU put something into a container and stick it into the fridge it is YOUR job too to remember that you stuck something into a container and put it into the fridge … especially if we are talking about something especially bought for or by YOU)

        • Ideealistin – the other day I got “you should have known I would have thought of it if you’d reminded me”. I’m sure there’s a therapist’s couch in that statement somewhere.

          • Naaa, no therapist required for that. It’s universal knowledge: Men don’t forget. Women forget to remind them 😉

            But as Sanna said: I’m just happy about every progress. I’m worse on having things and wanting things but (by now) much better in letting things go. He, on the other hand, has always had minimal tendencies but once things are acquired (or worse: given to him) they seldomly are allowed to leave. So the big stack of university papers that was decluttered last week (though hopefully only the start to his huge paper monster) felt soooo good.

      • Well, Moni, he was six months younger back than. Wouldn’t you know that it hadn’t been a problem THEN to sleep in a tent, but now it is?
        I don’t even comment on things like that here, although they happen often enough. I’m just happy, when he’s ready to declutter something eventually.

      • Moni, that’s a hoot. Men remember about as long as it takes to turn around. Then they argue about it later. “You didn’t tell me that!” “Why is this here?” And on and on.

      • ALL men want a motorbike. Ian did. One day he returned from a trip to the city, bringing back a mandolin. We call it ‘Harley’.

  9. I love your post Colleen, and can relate so much. My home looks a million times better than it used to, but I know that each time I do a pass there will be more to be donated or tossed. LOVE IT!!

    A funny thing happened the other day: our old solar bathroom scale was getting very slow to light up the display and we bought a new one – yay! So I said to my husband I was going to get rid of the old one and he said no, no, no! He eventually said we could donate it to one of the kids. (Like they don’t have their own far superior ones!) So I left it, in the garage. Grrr….

    A day later a neighbour wanted to borrow a bathroom scale!!! Well you know the rest of the story, he happily gave it to them! Karma or something!

  10. There’s a young man (young 20’s) that works at the thrift store where I usually donate my bags of stuff. The other day we were chatting and he said “I just can’t believe how much free stuff people have to give away”. It was interesting to see how his awareness of excessive consumption has grown since he started working at that store. Lisa

    • One thing I hear a lot when I drop stuff at the donation/thrift store is “I can’t believe you are getting rid of that!?!?”. Implying that the stuff is just too good to ever consider getting rid of.
      More often than not, I just shrug my shoulders & don’t much acknowledge the comment because I don’t want to justify why I’m parting with something to a total stranger.
      Sometimes that well-intentioned question just ruffles my fur & it’s all I can do to not blurt out something like “mind your own business, sister!”.
      I’m far from the type to actually say that to someone, but man oh man, I do dislike awkward interactions. So much so that I’ve actually changed which donation store I give things to to avoid the (perceived) interrogation.
      Does anyone else ever get grilled from the donation attendants?

      • Jane, that’s why I love our Goodwill and the Women’s Shelter. The former just take you bags and go. The latter is just so happy to get stuff they can use they take anything that works and is clean.

      • haha, jane, that sounds like your staff there is like a materialist sitting right there in the big huge honey pot of stuff… who is wondering how people can give away such good items. thats probably like a craving for sensation for them.
        dont get angry, they just cant understand why you would act so weird and give away perfectly good things. take a deep breath and relax. and when you feel like it and you have enough time on your hands – give them the sermon of decluttering/minimizing. some people are open for a change of thoughts!

      • The young man at the place I go to is very nice. He has seen me there many times and we just started talking. I thought it was pretty cool when he said he can no longer pay more than $8.00 for a pair of jeans.:)