Stuff can build up without you noticing

Even when a person has been working at this decluttering thing for a long time it is possible for stuff to build up right under your nose. A little something comes in here and a little there and before you know it a drawer, a cupboard, a corner of the garage… is more cluttered than you would like. Or maybe even there is a thin even spread of clutter built up all over the house.

One must be ever vigilant so that this clutter build up does not occur or at least doesn’t get out of hand. It can happen due to a change in circumstance.

  • Perhaps you are doing a little renovating and home hardware catalogues build up in a drawer somewhere.
  • Or you need medication for some reason and find you don’t respond well and have to try several before hitting on one that works for you. In this situation packets and paper paraphernalia can build up in your medicine cabinet.
  • Your child grows into the next size of clothing and you don’t immediately declutter the outgrown size ones.
  • For health reasons your diet changes and you don’t eliminate the ingredients from your pantry that you should no longer eat.
  • You begin a new hobby but still have products and tools from the old one now relegated to the back corner of the garage.

I could go on all day with circumstance after circumstance but I think you get the idea.

Never fear, the solution is to nip these situations in the bud before another occurs, then another, and before you know it you are back to square one of your declutter mission. All you need do is be aware, be ever vigilant when spaces in your home start to appear a little fuller than you remember them being.

I have found a couple of drawers in my home to be like this recently. They have been a little neglected and have become a little cluttered. Not with things I have been frivolous about, or caused by any desire to acquire but simply life happening. And this can happen to anyone.

The way I become aware of this is by paying attention when visiting areas of my home during my day to day routines. As soon as I realise that the clutter is starting to build I quickly do something about it. Today I cleared a drawer in my living room that had a couple of hardware catalogues and some notes I had taken with measurements and preferences. There is also a little build up of receipts, in another drawer, that I have kept for items bought that carried a warranty. I know this doesn’t sound like much but when left unchecked we all know where it can lead.

So be ever vigilant and deal with the new clutter before it gets out of hand. Whether you have reached your declutter goal or are still reducing your belongings you are always in a maintenance phase. Either ensuring the you maintain the goal you reached or ensuring you aren’t taking one step forward two steps back when you are in the throws of your major decluttering effort.

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter an item of your choice and spend 10 minutes listing the reasons why you should acquire less stuff. For example, save money, work less, environmental reasons, better uses of your time, not accumulating more clutter…

Eco Tip for the Day

Recycle responsibly by checking what you can and can’t put into your bins and sticking by those rules. All locations aren’t equal when it come to what is and isn’t collected for recycling. It is up to you to find out. Usually your local government website carries this sort of information. So be a responsible consumer and recycle the right things and only put in the trash the things you can’t.

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 […]
  • The problem is acquiring Clutter is very much about being keener to acquire than to let go. We acquire things we need, or more likely just want, but once their usefulness to, or novelty for, us has expired we […]
About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. Great post Colleen. I love this weeks mini missions.
    Yesterday I revisited the kitchen junk drawer that was getting out of hand. Receipts, old business cards, membership cards etc. I also deleted hundreds of e-mails, both work and personal and dealt with other paper issues. Paper continues to be my biggest challenge as I have noted before. It does not matter how much I get rid of (which I do each day), it still comes back. Today I am working on my procrastination issues. I have followed up a couple of over due e-mails and task that are mental clutter. Mental clutter can be just as bad as visual clutter, because it affects my sleep and therefore my well being.

    • Hi Sheryl, I generally don’t suffer from paper clutter because I do everything I can to avoid it. Even those hardware catalogues I mentioned in the post were only accepted because the person wrote the quote I wanted on them before I realised what they were doing so I took them because I was pretty sure they would only end up in their bin immediately anyway. My kitchen is now finished so I don’t need them any more.

      You are rigt about mental clutter. Also one of the issues with physical clutter is that it has the added effect of being metal clutter at the same time. The old double whammy. Not good.

  2. You are so right about this Colleen. It is so easy to let things build up. I find it to be especially true in times in life when you have little time because of a crisis or because of a streak of busyness. It has been a hectic few weeks here and it has taken be a while to get rid of the little pile of stuff on my desk.

    • Hi Deb, you are right about that streak of busyness. I have keep busy these days creating cards for sale. It is amazing how much time that takes up. It is very easy to neglect other duties when one has other things they would rather be doing or have to do.

  3. This reminds me of visiting my parent’s home. When I was living there 20+ years ago there was plenty of stuff. It needed a big decluttering even then. Every time I’ve been back I’ve noticed new piles, more stuff and spaces getting smaller. Now you have to carefully navigate every room of the house so as not to bump something. Decluttering is not my parent’s favorite topic. I broached the subject a couple weeks ago when they were visiting me. There was no admission that there was any kind of problem. They saw moving in the future to not be too big of a deal. No need to get on downsizing just to get ahead of the game for when they do move. It is truly a nightmare there but because the stuff has just kept coming in gradually there over the years and decades they don’t see it. I’ve seen a huge difference from when I lived there. It always reminds me to keep on top of my “piles” of stuff – to be vigilant! Some day I’m sure I will have to deal with all of their stuff too. Lord have mercy!

    • Hi, Claire…I know what you mean about the clutter in our childhood homes. My parents grew up during the Depression, and it was very hard for them to throw anything away that might have some use.

      My mother is still living, but when she’s gone, we’re going to have the HUGE and overwhelming task of cleaning out a FARM—farmhouse, barn, outbuildings, equipment, etc.

      That’s why I like to stay ahead of clutter too. (I’m hoping that my husband will get into it wholeheartedly one of these days too, and reduce what he has so that our children don’t have an overwhelming task when we’re gone.)

      • Becky, that is overwhelming to know that you have several buildings to clear out in the future. I only have one house but it is packed tightly and to the ceiling in several rooms. There is so much they could get rid of right now – there are literally clothes in the closet from the 1950s! It will just be me doing all the work too since I’m the only able bodied person in the family. Totally overwhelming but they are just not open to my help or even working on it themselves now. Praying for a miracle change of heart for them!

    • Hi Claire, I sympathise with you over this situation. The thing that always troubles me with this particular issue is that among all the clutter could be some quite valuable stuff. But who wants to sift through it to find the gems. I would really rather risk the loss than deal with the task.

      I am glad to say that my parents have just put a deposit on a block of land at an over 50’s gated community. The home won’t be built for about twelve months. My mum and dad have already begun decluttering for the move. Fortunately they aren’t the sentimental ownership types and are happy getting rid of stuff.

      • Colleen, oh yes it worries me so much that the important and valuable stuff it buried somewhere. My dad has mountains of papers in his office and my mom is notorious for squirreling away and hiding important and valuable things. I said to them on their last visit that I wouldn’t know what or where the important things are so I hope that they will put them on top of everything to make it obvious. I can only hope they’ll take that to heart.
        They just watched my aunt and uncle move from their house of 50 years and saw how much stuff they boxed up – over 260 boxes! What a chore to box and unpack all of that. I can’t imagine why two 70+ year olds need so much stuff. My parents have more for sure. I think they’ll probably learn the hard way.

        • That is such a shame but, aside from making suggestions that they do something about it before it is too late, there isn’t much you can do about it.

  4. Hi Colleen! I think the most frightening part of clutter is the possibility of going right back to the start. I just had my sons birthday party and they got plenty of gifts (mostly winter clothes – I am a very happy Mom!!! 😀 ). Today I went to their wardrobe and set aside a large amount of clothing that no longer fits or are too worn, to be either donated or be disposed of. I can tell you it gave the wardrobe plenty of breathing space and it felt good to let of things we no longer use. I do have to make another round on the house to see if anything has escaped my notice, and keep maintenance high, because when I am not looking stuff does pile up. 😀 😀 😀

  5. Right now I struggle with that is left of my comic book collection. At one time I had over 500 comics but am now down to about 30 or so.

    Not sure if I’m quite ready to let these last few ones go just yet. I’ve found it hard to make money with any of them though so that will factor into my decision.

    Also I found clutter build up in my junk drawer today. Receipts were tucked everywhere so they all got shredded. Hmmm.

    • Hi Ron, just ignore those comic books for now and work on something else. Open up drawer and closets and see if they are work going through. It doesn’t have to be a big task, one drawer, one shelf in a closet of cupboard is enough for one visit. You never know what you might find.

      • Right, I have been trying to sell a dresser without success so put it for free on Craigslst and had 9 responses. Someone will be picking it up within the hour… wow. That was a fast declutter for a bigger item. Nice.