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 hang on to them. I feel that there are four main reasons for why we hang on to this clutter and they are, laziness, confusion, fear and indifference.

Laziness of course refers to having the stuff there, being aware that it is a problem but refusing to deal with it because you just don’t want to make the effort. The problem is this is that while you are “ignoring” it it is gnawing away at your peace of mind. So best to just get on with the job. It doesn’t have to be difficult which is what 365 Less Things is all about.

Confusion is the problem of not knowing how to responsibly get rid of the useful yet unwanted stuff that we know we need to get rid of. To help with this issue here is a link to one of my guides on how to Recycle or Donate you unwanted stuff. There are no doubt other options open to you in your area but at least this guide will give you some clues or maybe even get your imagination flowing on more novel ways of finding new homes for your stuff.

Fear is all about thinking you might need it some day and keeping it just in case. Or because we fear we are letting go of something sentimental and that doing so is somehow an affront to our history or to those who may have given an item to us. Use this link which will send you to a list of posts with the subject of Personal Attachment. These posts might help you let go of some of those attachments to stuff. 

And indifference is being aware that you have clutter but don’t mind, don’t care or even like it that way. It can also be that you don’t even notice because you like being surrounded by stuff. And that is fare enough if that is how you like to live. However I don’t suppose you are here reading my blog posts if that is truly your attitude. But I will mention here that constantly acquiring new stuff or even hoarding stuff that could be useful to someone else is not a very environmentally friendly approach to taking care of the planet we live on. 

Which leads me to the issue of acquiring stuff. The clutter would not build up if we stopped bringing it in in the first place.  I have said it before and I will say it again, and again and again, that one of the best thing that happened to me during my mission to declutter was losing the desire to acquire. It is not only good for your finances, and better for the environment, it is also a fool proof way of achieving your decluttering goals sooner and remaining uncluttered once you reach your goal.

I am not saying that I never acquire anything but I sure am very discerning about what I do acquire. I would rather go without than end up with an item that doesn’t live up to the function I bought it for. I never buy anything on the spur of the moment and usually what I do acquire is to replace something that is worn out that I use all the time. I buy very few material gifts for people, I prefer to buy consumable items or give experience gifts or the gift of my time in some way. And for those who insist on buying gifts for me, I request that they are consumable.

It is amazing how freeing it can be when one overcomes the desire to constantly acquire. I am amused but mostly appalled when I see the ridiculous advertising slogans and enticements companies use to con you into buying their products.

It is also nice to own mostly things that are useful to you or beautiful. I get so much satisfaction when I use the items in my house that have proved their worth and the space they take up in my home.

So consider your acquiring habits if you are truly wanting to set and reach a level of unclutteredness within you home.

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Continue reading with these posts:

  • The problem is acquiring Clutter is very much about being keener to acquire than to let go. We acquire things we need or want but once their usefulness to us has expired we hang on to them. I feel that there are […]
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About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. Great reminder, Colleen. Most of the time is not that we don’t declutter, but the constant acquisition of things. Once they’re in, they tend to settle for at least a little bit of time. And that disturbs the harmony. This is a lesson that is constantly coming back for me and that I have to learn once and for all! 🙂

    • That is correct Sandra. And where the environment is concern most stuff doesn’t remain useful to us for very long which isn’t a good thing. That is why I go for secondhand as much as possible and acquire as little as possible.

  2. I have been acquiring some lately. I have been doing a good bit of scrapbooking as we have had a number of things happening. So I have been shopping, especially on I have redone my craft/puzzle/cleaning closet so everything can be put away. I have also been decluttering. So I feel good that it hasn’t been all incoming and no outgoing.

  3. I went to a home decor store today and didn’t even want anything. Slowly the desire to acquire more has lost its appeal for me. I keep thinking, in a bit I will have to figure out how to get rid of this thing responsibly, so it’s easier not to acquire it in the first place.

  4. “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. ” – Albert Einstein

    This was what happened when I began to declutter.

  5. Thanks Colleen. It’s the fear that hampers my efforts. Very frustrating as I have to consciously battle it or the stuff just builds up.
    It was getting me on multiple fronts: I’ve had a rough year and I think I was buying things to be like armour for me. Well I came to a few realisations and read a bunch if your posts for inspiration, and this weekend I tackled the closet and all the negative feelings hanging up in there. Result: 3 bags to goodwill, and I am excited to go into my closet again. I still have some work to do but am feeling so much better.

    • Hi Amelia 🙂 … sorry to hear that you had a rough year. Good job regarding the closet — way to go!

    • Hi Amelia, I am sorry to hear you have been having a tough year. I know how that feels because I had a tough one myself last year. Definitely a case of what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. I hope I have learned from it and become a better and stronger human being for it. One think I do know is that recreation shopping is a salve that doesn’t have a lasting effect and best avoided. I am glad to hear that you got into that closet on the weekend and are feeling better for it. And it is a double joy because you get the good feeling of donating the items to charity as well. I wish you lots of future success with your decluttering and a full recovery from recreational shopping. 😉

      • Oh, that’s no good Colleen. But I’m sure you’re right regarding being even better and stronger than before.
        When you said ‘recreation shopping’ I shuddered, I normally can’t stand acquiring things without a need for it, and would usually always do at least ‘one in, one out’. So that was part of my self-evaluation, being able to see I’ve been dealing with a trying situation, and acting in unusual ways trying to get through it. Ugh.
        You are so right, it feels wonderful to donate things. A much better pastime than the mindless acquiring bit!