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 today.” 

And that is a great example of the key to getting anything done, which is enjoying the process. If you can get yourself to that point, with any challenge, then how can you fail. After all, who won’t do whatever they can to find some time in their day to do the things they enjoy doing.

I have always enjoyed my decluttering which was what made it such a success for me. Even when it also required rearranging things which can be physically taxing. The key to getting to that point for me was deciding to do it slowly and effortlessly. Just those two words make it sound like something that could therefore be enjoyable. And it was. As Bernadette said “It is so liberating.”

Liberating because the less stuff you have the less maintenance is required to keep it all in good shape. Liberating because the more you let go the more you realise how little you really need, therefore you don’t shop so much anymore. That liberates you from the desire to acquire which, for me, was certainly a big bonus of the process of decluttering. And shopping is very time consuming, just getting to the shops generally takes longer than the ten minutes a day I subscribe for your daily decluttering effort. So how hard can it be.

Some of my readers find the mini missions to be enjoyable. Rising to the challenge of finding something to match each days mission and then sharing that achievement with their fellow 365 Less Things readers is very inspiring for them. Some readers have enjoyed their ongoing involvement in Nicole’s post ~ Decluttering With Friends… . Others just rise to the challenge of finding that one thing in their homes each day.

Even now, that my home is how I wanted it to be, I still enjoy finding things to declutter, or using up things I have had for a while that I have no intention of replacing.

So if you are still procrastinating about starting you decluttering journey then I would suggest that you…

  1. Have an open mind to the idea that it could actually be enjoyable.
  2. Fight against the resistance and just make a start by finding one simple thing each day.
  3. Share your achievements with your fellow declutterers here at 365 less things.
  4. Seek their advice if necessary and soak up the encouragement I am sure they will give you.
  5. Do that for about a month and I am sure you too will find the enjoyment that decluttering can bring.

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 ~ Wednesday 20Dec2017 Declutter by recycling some items. That mound ofused takeout containers, old newspapers and magazines, paperwork that needs shredding, glass jars you set aside in case you have a use for […]
  • 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. I have say it ssooo true, I really truly enjoy the process of getting rid of things.
    However it is a process. I think and overthink. In my case its mostly my closet.

    • Hi Lorena, overthinking can be as debilitating as procrastinating. Although I am all for culling thoughtfully so as not to end up having to repurchase things again in the near future. My thoughts about the closet is that if that the only area left to declutter then you can relax and do it as inspiration comes. I have always found that the backwards coat hunger method in quite effective. And if the closet is only part of the problem then forget about it for now and focus on easier tasks. Go back to the closet when you feel more ruthless.

  2. I agree, decluttering is enjoyable & liberating. I have found that I might not notice a daily change, but then all of a sudden I notice a big change. Like when I had new flooring put in living, dining & kitchen, it was easy to empty the room and fit everything into the bedrooms. My neighbors had to rent a moving pod & park it on their driveway.

    It is liberating both time wise & financially not to shop except for essentials. I am able to be more generous with causes I support.

    • Calla – we are in the process of purchasing new flooring. The part I am looking forward to is moving all the furniture out to the garage, and the opportunity to decide what comes back in. We did this to paint (the summer before last) and there was quite a pile left behind and although I’d gauge our home at 95% decluttered I’m confident that there will be more stuff that won’t make the grade this round either.

    • Good for you Calla all aspect you mentioned. I actually make money with my craft decluttering but then I also use a lot of the my crafting items and skills to repair jewellery at the thrift shop I volunteer at. That makes money for them and puts items back into use that might otherwise go in the trash. So win for the charity, win for the environment and win for me because I feel good doing it.

  3. I needed that today, thank you. My decluttering has run out of steam a bit. I DO enjoy letting go! And taking a trunk full of decent things to donate feels liberating and good. Clutter creep is a real thing in this house with 4 people living (and accumulating) here. I guess the process ebbs and flows.

    • Hi creativeme, I feel your pain when it comes to clutter creep. Living in a home with children and or extra adults whose stuff you have no control over sure can be frustrating at times. Even I cringe if the communication system goes off in my apartment and at the other end is a delivering person with a parcel that my husband has ordered. I give an almost audible sigh of relief when in turns out only to be concert tickets or the like. Sadly that isn’t always the case. Myself on the other hand usually only allows secondhand almost free stuff in and if it hasn’t been utilised, usually in a craft project, in a reasonable amount of time I have no qualms to send it back where it came from.

      • Hi Colleen,

        That’s funny about the delivery. The other day when our mail came, my husband yelled to me that we got a package from our married daughter. My immediate thought was “Oh no, a physical gift!”… haha I just heard him wrong. It was something she had ordered for herself so we will not have to keep it 🙂

  4. Colleen, I am finding that I am enjoying my decluttering very much. As I said before, I think it may be more fun to move it out than the fun I THOUGHT I was having collecting. Now that I have almost all my decor gone, have removed excess country collectibles from the kitchen, and removed a couple pieces of furniture from the living room, I find a change is taking place. I used to think that the two places I could not keep neat in my house were my desk and the kitchen. Both were in use A LOT and it just seemed hard to keep the clutter at bay. Now, I have more room INSIDE my desk because of decluttering, so it is easy to place any unfinished business in the drawers to hide.
    Because of less in the kitchen, I am more motivated to clean thoroughly after every meal. I have gotten to that breakthrough point where the liberation begins.

    I still have a long way to go because the final yard sales are not over. Stuff is still packed in the garage awaiting transport to the selling location. Once that is all moved out, there are more cabinets and areas to do a second pass through at some point in time. But what a difference it has made!!

    I have always enjoyed organization. I just wish I had decluttered FIRST years and years ago before I organized Eveything! Ha!! Now, what I really wish I knew is how to get someone else motivated to declutter. My sister has almost become a hoarder and she is turning 70 soon. Her daughter and I have done everything we know to do to motivate her to no avail. Has anyone out there in 365 Land had any success in getting anyone outside their home interested in decluttering?

    • Hi Brenda, thank you for that wonderful update on how your decluttering is progressing and the positive effect that is having in your home. You story is all too familiar and I am sure many of my readers, past and present, have experienced something very similar, including myself of course.
      You have mentioned you sister before and it is sad that she is unwilling to head down a similar path. Unfortunately it is not something that you can force upon someone. But well done you trying to inspire her. I decluttered with a friend, a while back, whose home was in a bit of a state. I am pleased to say that, although I feel there has been new things come back into her home, she has not strayed from the path too far and her home is much better still than it was previous to our efforts. However she was will to do so at the time so no coaxing was necessary. In fact she decluttered a lot more than I expected of her. Although leading up to that point I had been encouraging her for a while to do something about her situation. Then suddenly she decided to move house and that was the catalyst to get on with the task rather suddenly. But better late than never. Perhaps one day something will also inspire your sister to get on with the task but until that day all you can do is gently encourage.

      • Colleen, I remember your helping your friend declutter, and I am happy to hear she has done pretty well at staying the course!

        Today, I took my old Honda packed completely full to unload at my husbands office where I will have my yard sale. I marveled that I could still have so much small stuff to sell after having several yard sales over the years, giving carloads to my friend, and taking carloads to thrift stores. And it isn’t things I have brought in later—- it is things I have had for years and years. And there’s more to load and take! The larger furniture will have to go on a trailer to transport although I will take some smaller pieces in the car. It is like I just can’t wait to get it out of the house and have my sales! Once I set it up, I can have several if need be.

        I am just so grateful to you and all the 365ers who keep everything so inspiring. I probably would have gotten to this point on my own because I loved reading about decluttering years before I found you. But, having daily interaction with the wonderful group here is so much fun!! Truly, it is the highlight of my day to read your posts and everyone’s comments. And it just makes you want to get up and kick some clutter!!!!

  5. Colleen you have “hit the nail on the head” with your post. I greatly enjoy decluttering. I can’t see keeping something for “someday” when someday may never come. I have learned that it really takes very little to live a good life because it is not about things but about people and have time for them.

    • You are so right about how little stuff it takes to live a good life. I often wonder, in Western society, how poverty is measured. I know people who complain about scraping just enough money together to get by each week and yet their children have a room full of toys, they both have the latest and greatest cell phones, which would also require plan to run them, their Facebook updates mention concerts etc that they are going to… I wonder how much the worry about making ends meet when all they really need do I go without a bunch of that other stuff. Love food, shelter, a bed, transport and a job are the basics on which we need to get by all else is gravy. Why jeopardise affording the essentials by indulging in the other. People who know me would argue that I wouldn’t know what it is like because family moved out of that situation a long time ago are very comfortable now, but have been there done that and still managed to get to this point. Now I probably own less than ever but an happier for it.

      • I know what you mean Colleen. I don’t go to concerts, movies (even to rent them), anything like that where you have to pay money. Don’t go out to eat very often either. Once in a very blue moon. I don’t buy expensive cuts of meat either. I basically pay for housing, insurance and gas for the car, rental insurance, food, electric, and internet. I get my hair cut every 4-6 weeks depending upon how shaggy it is. When I buy clothes I try to find things at thrift shops or if I buy new it is at Wal-Mart and for $10 or less. I wear my clothes a long time. I have 2 pair of shoes–both are Crocs that I bought 5 years ago for $5 each. One pair is like flip flops without the between the toe piece. Oh yes, I have low co-pays on my health insurance and that also provides my medications at very low cost. That’s my expenditures. Occasionally I buy a ebook or an embelishment for making a special card. I have stopped paying out any more than I have to.

  6. I agree – I especially enjoy it when I get to the bottom of some emotional attachment and find myself freed from a bond that only exists in my head. I enjoy being resourceful and thinking of an alternative solution instead of heading straight to the shops to buy one.

  7. I mostly “displaced” some toys today to get them out of the way of the toys the kids actually play with… But I did trash a plastic music thingie from when my kids were little. It was just hopelessly broken. I found a wheel to one of the building block things that the kids and we grandparents all like, so that was good.

    Kudos to Colleen, this is a fabulous post! I wish I could say I did more though 🙂

    • I think you have been doing very well Peggy, especially considered the family dynamics of your home. It may not feel like you are accomplishing much at times but you can’t make choices on things that aren’t you own and you have to let go of that. All you can do is set an example and encourage. And don’t be a party to adding to anyone else’s possessions in your home. I try not to add to the possessions of anyone else’s home either by giving thoughtful use it up gifts, or no gifts at all in most instances. I sometimes feel like a bit of a scrooge but that is only because of convention. I hope people accept me for who I am and understand that I don’t operate under the usual rule of “more more more”.

      • Hi Colleen,

        We haven’t given the kids any kind of gifts yet for birthdays, Christmas, or Easter. I feel that we give of our time and attention and our space so they are still getting a good deal! As they get older, we may take them places as a “gift” rather than buy them a “thing”. I resent that the other grandparents buy them things at every possible occasion because those things always end up at our house! Not to mention the “goodie bags” they get at every party… My husband and I keep saying it’s probably only 2 more years they will live with us (til our daughter finishes nursing school)… The thing that bothers me the most about them living with us is the stuff, not the people 🙂

        • Hi Peggy, I understand your statement “The thing that bothers me the most about them living with us is the stuff, not the people.”
          Also in regards to gifts. The remark was made “…is that what it has come to…” when I was telling someone that my granddaughter was coming over this weekend to do her Easter money hunt. I prefaced this information with the fact that she her mum and dad aren’t together and so she gets easter eggs at both homes so she doesn’t need more for me. It seems to me it would be more ridiculous to give her more candy that give her the joy of using clues to search my home for 10 $2 coins that she can spend or save at her will. Her only wish went she was done with the hunt was that I’d hid 20 $1 coins rather than 10 $2s because she could have had twice as much fun.

          • Many years ago when my husband first started up his business, we were living on my wage (I worked elsewhere then) and our mortgage took up 2/3 of my wage. I decided from the get go that we would only draw from my husband’s fledgling business if we absolutely couldn’t stretch my wage that far and only if we couldn’t avoid the expense. All the bills got paid and the kids had full stomachs but we didn’t have luxuries and I had to be very careful with the power bill, water bill, etc so we didn’t have an unexpected blow out. I wouldn’t have been ok to keep up the regime forever as I was very strict with EVERYTHING and I knew the kids were growing but I wanted to give my husband’s business an opportunity to build some equity and cashflow, so that one day it could support us comfortably. Anyway, I went to a PTA meeting and a group of parents were saying the school needed to provide a ‘Breakfast Club’ so kids who didn’t get breakfast at home, could have something to eat before being in a learning environment. The group were also protesting the school fees which were ridiculously low ie $150 p/a for a family of 3+ children. And having to buy a school uniform. One of the group gave us the run down of what she received on a social welfare benefit plus family allowance and housing allowance, and it was actually a wee bit more than what I earned off a 40 hour week plus petrol for a 50km round trip to work each day and work clothes etc. I addressed the meeting stating this and added that my kids never went to school hungry or without a packed lunch and I managed to volunteer for school fund raisers. (That group was never to be seen for fund raisers) All said, I felt no child should go to school hungry and I would buy an extra box of weetbix and an extra 2L of milk to donate to the Breakfast Club.

      • I too continue to be amazed at what people spend money on then complain about barely scraping by. 11 years ago I worked on an assembly line as a second job to finally get out of debt. Several people were talking about how they were going to spend $2,000 on a color tattoo, then complained about how they didn’t have enough money to go to the dentist or own a car, while they smoked & complained. I have nothing against tattoos, if you can afford them. Priorities have worked for me. If I said anything about it, they just said I was being judgmental about tattoos & it was easy for me to say such things since I was on “easy street”.

        • Peggy and Calla, I just have to add my two cents the amazement! I used to be the city clerk in the small town where I live. I actually had a customer tell me he could not pay his water bill because he had to pay the cable bill!!! I reminded him That you can live without TV but not without water. He got furious and went out and slammed the door.

          It was a regular occurrence to turn someone’s water off after 2 or 3 mos of non pmt and see a TV on, half the size of the wall , through the window! People’s priorities are in the wrong places!! And it seems a lot of kids these days have been given everything they ever wanted to the point they think the whole world owes them!

        • That all sounds way too familiar Calla, and very frustrating.

  8. Well said, Colleen!

  9. I enjoy the decluttering process because it’s something I have control over in my life. There is so much we don’t! It gives me such a peaceful feeling when I look around and see blank spaces. Clears my mind. I still haven’t gotten to my closet yet. Big procrastination area! One day LOL

    • Oh yes Debbie, there is so much we don’t have control over but stuff isn’t one of them. Although I something think that I let life control me a little too much when I could step up and take control. And then there are many times where I orchestrate my own chaos unnecessarily. I think we are all guilty of that.

  10. I’ve commented before on our (my wife and I) decluttering journey, most recently about sending family heirlooms back to their places of origin. Although each time we have gotten rid of these “precious” things, afterwards we have felt so good. We are down to a few items that I am going to donate to my hometown’s small historical museum. Of furniture, only two side chairs are left. Ironically, my wife wants to keep and reupholster them, and I just want them gone. I want modern! So we’ll see.
    After these things, we are really just down to pictures, and lots of them. I realize that we should keep them, but just how? I’m not really into scanning them, and I don’t trust the “cloud.” (Luddite, I know) Most of them are framed pictures of our children. My wife wants to take them out of their frames and put them in albums. I think that’s a great idea.
    Anyway, I enjoy reading this blog and realizing people all over our world are in similar circumstances.
    I’d love to downsize even more. Somehow cleaning out and getting rid of extraneous/unwanted clutter does that to me!
    Jeff in OK

    • Colleen Madsen

      Nice to hear from you Jeff. I remember your comments and the wonderful way you are finding homes for the precious heirlooms in your home. I am sure most readers here will also remember. Nicole made up a lovely story about it once. It is always lovely to hear the stories of people who go out of there way to find new homes for the items they no longer want so they can be enjoyed by someone else. I encountered an opposite situation just this week and made a plea to the person involved to not throw good items in the trash. I think he got the message. Keep up the good work Jeff

    • Hey Jeff! (Hey to everyone! I’ve been traveling a lot and haven’t posted lately.)

      If your pictures are all the same size (4 x 6, for example), an album is the go-to solution. Another idea is to get a photo organizing kit. They have little plastic envelopes (but hard plastic, like a pencil box) that fit 100 photos, and then about 10 of those little plastic cases fit inside one large plastic box. It saves a lot of space vs. albums!

      If you have different sizes of photos, then page protectors + a binder will work. Even better are the Pioneer magnetic photo pages and their binders. I have used the magnetic pages for 15 years for my husband’s military “scrapbook.” I don’t decorate it; I just need to preserve important papers. The Pioneer pages have held up and have not yellowed.

      Just my two cents for the evening!