Focus on the space

There is a tip I have heard many times from many sources that I don’t think I have ever mentioned on my blog before now. That tip is ~ Focus on the space not the clutter. That is to visualise how you want the space that you are about to declutter to look instead of focusing on the task itself. Having a clear picture in your mind of what you want the space to look and feel like should give you the incentive to strive towards that vision.

Stay focused on the vision, which is the positive outcome, rather than focus on the negative, which is the work involved in achieving that vision.

When you are about to embark on a vacation to places exotic such as a week of lazing by the beach drinking mojitos in Hawaii your focus is clearly on the vacation itself not the less enjoyable 5, 6 or 12 hour flight to your destination. This positive vision can also help motivate you to work hard for months to earn the money required to pay for it even though the payoff is short lived in comparison. The same can be done for decluttering your home although in this case the payoff can, with a little maintenance, last permanently while the task itself only lasts for a relatively short length of time.

It may be easier to work on one space or room at a time using this method or if your visualisation skills are good enough you can let your imagination go wild on visualising the entire house looking and feeling unclutttered, spacious, relaxing, tranquil and easy to maintain.

Not only can this method get you motivated to begin your decluttering but it can also help sustain your enthusiasm during the process. With every item that I move to the garage for removal I feel the joy of knowing that it is one more thing that gets me a step closer to my clutter-free goal. In fact the vision in my mind of moving to a small abode is all it takes to motivate me to go searching for the next thing to declutter.

Now if thinking this way doesn’t get you motivated then I don’t know what will.

Today’s Mini Mission

Get rid of one uncomfortable pair of shoes that sure are cute but could be used by the enemy as an effective torture treatment.

Today’s Declutter Item

This skateboard deck was sold on ebay. It was a gift to my son but was not the size he uses. Skateboarders are particular about the width of the decks they use.

Skateboard Deck

Eco Tip for the Day

Let your fingers do the walking. When there is something you need to shop for phone ahead to make sure the store has what you are after rather than making a wasted trip. Every small amount of petroleum product saved is a good thing.

For a full list of my eco tips click here

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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  • The key to action is enjoyment I received a comment from Bernadette on the 365 Less Things Facebook page this week that said... "I enjoy getting rid of things. It is so liberating. Got rid of a bunch of old photos […]
About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. Yeah, focussing on the space that will be there or what it will look like is a great motivation! Sometimes I even remove things from one place to see what it would be like even if the decision is not 100% made. I often find that once I have removed an item for a while I don’t really want it back. I might still cling to the item and store it instead of letting it go immediately but removing items from the place where they have always been often is the first step for me.
    Empty space (or at least a well curated space) is highly addictive 🙂

    • Good use of this strategy Ideealistin.

    • This is such an awesome strategy! I find relocating items from their original location to somewhere less visual is usually what it takes for me to finally let go of something I’ve been on the fence about.

      I’m sure there is some kind of psychology at play with this method…but for me it consistently works at freeing me from the stronghold some items have on my psyche. I call it relocation sorcery!

  2. Hi again,this is what I do believe I have had to focus on the positive as moved into my husband’s family home! of a few plenty of great blogs out there for inspiration. Getting there now at last after 13 years!
    This is great advice again.x

  3. When my wife and I first started working on the design for our new home office, we did just this. We actually visualized how we wanted the space to look and then we were able to eliminate clutter more easily.

    Define the purpose and then design the space. We ended up combining our two offices down to one and if you can image, it was actually even neater than the two offices were separate.

  4. Good thoughts on space – I totally know what you mean about skaters! They are so particular about their gear.

    • Hi Moni, doing tricks would become a little awkward if ones board kept changing in shape all the time. Do you have a stack of about twenty old decks in your garage. Maybe it is about time to question my son about wether he really want to keep them all or not.

      • Colleen – it is funny you mention the stack of 20 board because yes we do have such a stack. However he keeps them in his room and he gave me a flat no last time I suggested they could go – not even the broken one’s! Apparently they each have a different story and are strictly hands-off.
        I even tried moving them to the garage ie the first degree of seperation but he wasn’t fooled.
        They are just the right length to be annoying, I can’t find anything to contain them and perhaps slide under his bed or that I can move around easily when I vacuum.

        • Hi Moni, if we lived in our own house I would be inclined to display them, maybe by putting brackets on the wall and making a feature wall out of them. I will check with Liam again the next time I am rearranging the garage and see what he wants to do because I know that his attachment to them is waning somewhat.

  5. This idea is great and I wondered where I heard it before.
    … it was in safety training!
    In case you ever lose control of your car – do not focus on the trees but on the space between the trees.
    Complete different meaning but somehow showing that space is offering many benefits 😉

    • That certainly sounds like good advice to me Chrissie. Hopefully I will never have to use it.

    • Chrissie – when I was learning to drive my mum, who is very excitable in general, would have been yelling ‘look at the trees, look at the trees, look at the trees’ (not that I ever hit or had any near misses with trees but you get the idea) and would have wondered why I would have headed straigth for the trees, so I very quickly decided she wasn’t the person to teach me to drive. My brother took over and all he said was “don’t do anything stupid”.

    • Absolutely – I used to do a lot of whitewater kayaking and you always focus on where you want to put your boat – not on the scary big rocks, drop, trees etc – focus on future water. We’re all focussing on future space 🙂

    • “Focus on the space!” That’s like ‘skiing the trees’. Don’t look at the trees, look at the space between the trees!

      🙂 🙂 🙂 (getting ready for ski season here!).

  6. Your post title says it all – ‘Focus on the space’ . If we focus on the space we already have rather than wasting our lives longing for more space then we could all be happier. Most of us have too much stuff for the spaces we live in. The answer is to de clutter steadily and gradually but motivation is key. I have downsized this year but still have more stuff than I need. Thanks for the motivation to get me going again xo

    • We agree entirely Claire, so many people these days just buy more space, the idea of getting rid of stuff doesn’t even occur to them. I was just talking to a lady I hadn’t seen in a while yesterday who is about to remarry. She was talking about all the extensions they are going to do to her home to give them more space. I am guessing they sleep in the same bed, cook in the same kitchen, eat at the same table, can either shower together or in turn and the kids have long since left home … so I can’t imagine why a newly married couple would need more space? One would think they’d enjoy being close.

  7. I have found that some people cannot imagine the space. My mother is one of them. When we talk about some sort of decorating idea she can’t visualize it. She can’t even do it if she has pictures. She has to see it in person. She now just tells me to do whatever.

    I think I need a break from helping S. I’m plum exhausted. I have to go tomorrow but will then take a break for the rest of the week.

    • Hi Deb J, that is interesting about your mother. I think it is not so much of a visualisation but to imagine the feeling of freedom if the space was less cluttered that works for some. Get her to try that sometime.

      And do take some time to rest Deb J. It is all very well and good to be helpful but not at the expense of your own health.

    • Deb J – you are a legend with S but maybe time to leave S with a few projects to do while you catch up on some rest.

  8. By focusing on what you want, it may be easier to get rid of things if they don’t fit that vision. You aren’t making lots of decisions about do I want each one, but just look at what you have and decide what you want and don’t worry about the rest.

    • I agree Marianne. I think I could make some pretty rapid bulk decisions about decluttering if we suddenly found a new smaller home to buy that suits our needs. Just last weekend we were contemplating a property and I could visualise pretty quickly which pieces of furniture would have to go in a hurry.

  9. Re: your eco tip today. Long story, but I’m in San Diego for two days. Tomorrow morning, I need to get to either Staples or Office Depot, so tonight I googled both stores, found the closest one and checked on the hours the stores are open. A little research ahead of time will make my day easier.

  10. I think some people find the idea of space overwhelming and therefore they hang on to things because things make them feel safe, surrounded, protected. I’ve hung to books because books for me mean knowledge which means power. Therefore to get rid of books means losing knowledge and therefore losing power, which is something that matters to me. Not quite sure what I mean by power exactly, I’m still working on that. I’ve now convinced myself that all the knowledge I need is in my head or in the heads of my friends and also I can learn new knowledge. I’ve also accepted that the knowledge in lots of the books I have is now outdated and for that matter the British Library ( I live in the UK) has a copy of every book publised in the UK so there’s always a copy somewhere so I don’t have to keep them “just in case”. It took a while to get to that point but the glee I feel in being able to get rid of books and see space on the shelves is great.

    • Anymore, just having a smartphone with internet access in your hand is like wielding Excaliber. Information & knowledge at your fingertips wherever you are.

      • I don’t always trust what’s written on the Internet. Who wrote it? Were they paid to write it? Who paid them and why did they write it? Are questions that should always be asked of information. I ask the same questions of published books and because that process has been around a long time it’s easier to work out what’s a reliable source and what isn’t. So I know that the Oxford English Dictionary is a reliable source. Salley’ is a bit less reliable! ( And yes I made that website up). I worry that people believe everything that they read on the internet and I just think people should be a little more cautious.

  11. Love the idea of visualizing what I want the end result to be or look like for a space or a room. Definitely helps to keep the motivation going too. I also like to think about how much less time it will take to spruce up or clean a room once all the clutter is gone. The helps to keep me focused as well.

    The eco tip is certainly smart, saves time, money, and pollution.

  12. Thanks for the idea Colleen and thank you for my recent welcome.

    I took the vision one step further on Tuesday and removed a lot of things from my main room, which is my lounge, dining room and kitchen all it one.

    It looks so much nicer and the things I thought I needed close to me I realise I don’t need there all the time.

    I have a room that holds most of my paperwork and my printer – my initial thoughts are that my post can go in there when it is received and dealt with and filed, and the last two days I have been very careful what I bring into my main room.

    Ok, so I now need to go into the other rooms and decide what to do with the moved things, but I’m loving the idea of seeing my apartment as I’d like it to be.


  1. […] I was amused by Jane’s term Relocation Sorcery. Read what she means by that in this comment […]

  2. […] ad esempio il garage o un armadio, ci terrorizza a tal punto che non iniziamo nemmeno… Colleen ci viene in aiuto con un prezioso consiglio: quello di focalizzarci sul risultato […]