These are only so many hours in the day

We all know there are only so many hours in the day. How many of them do you want to spend…

  1. …looking for things you need but can’t find among your excess stuff.
  2. …looking for things you didn’t put away where they belong.
  3. …choosing what to use or wear among an overabundance of stuff.
  4. …moving things in order to clean your home.
  5. …running around like a mad thing cleaning up every time someone is coming to your home for a brief or long visit.
  6. …dusting trinkets that aren’t even really that special to you.
  7. …struggling to make things fit into, what ought to be, your more than adequate size home.
  8. …shopping for more stuff that you will have to cram in somewhere just for the thrill of having something new.
  9. …feeling ashamed of how your home looks.
  10. …procrastinating about doing something about it.

What could you spend your precious time doing instead?

  1. Relaxing
  2. Feeling less stressed.
  3. Spending time with friends and loved ones.
  4. Creating beautiful things.
  5. Exercising
  6. Living in the knowledge that anyone could drop in anytime and your home will be tidy and inviting.
  7. Enjoy some time in nature, a walk by the beach, hiking or watching your garden grow.
  8. Volunteering in your community, This can be very satisfying.
  9. Having extra time to focus intently on one task at a time so you get the best result
  10. Getting your home in order so you can feel content there.

It may take a little time to get from list A to List B but it will be totally worth it.

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter an item of clothing that you don’t feel good in. Be that because of  fit, visual or comfort reasons.

Today’s Declutter Item

South Park Character Costume

Eco Tip for the Day

Organise your weekly menu prior to grocery shopping. This will help avoid extra trips in the car to the grocery store.

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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About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. This is really good. I am going to print it out and give it to S and her husband.

  2. I really don’t think people have realized the negative power and time that clutter can have over you. They were so focused on keeping up with the Joneses instead of really realizing the cost of doing so. The bad economy has had some real positive results in helping people to have the motivation to get off the treadmill and think about what they were doing. Some have been forced into it, but it still has the opportunity to bless your life if you learn from it.

    • I agree Spendwisemom, the economic crisis does have an upside. Let’s call it a probortunity (borrowing someone else’s word). The universe certainly works in mysterious ways sometimes.

  3. Love it. Great post!

  4. This is so the journey I am on at the moment. I have been renovating the house for the past 12 months and it has been a very stressful experience. I have packed stuff, lugged boxes around into off site storage, lugged them back home, unpacked and agonized over some of the things I was decluttering. I have found that I have become more ruthless with my decluttering over the year as my resentment of the time all of this has taken has grown. These are hours of my life that I will never get back again.

  5. So true! I spent a very satisfying morning yesterday, going through paperwork and finding homes for things that were previously piled up (I’m a stacker, or as my husband says “what are all these piles of CRAP?!”) There is still the filing to go through and find a permandent home for (at the moment it’s in a cubbyhole in my wardrobe, though at least there’s room for it there). However, I seem to have misplaced a library book over the last week and it’s annoying me no end. I need to find a place to store them all when I get back from the library.

  6. 12 months ago I would have answered yes to the first 10 questions and that was after one and a bit years of entry level decluttering which was more of a how-to-fit-as-much-stuff-in-as-possible exercise than actual decluttering and what did get taken away was just the overflow.

  7. Hi Colleen, Great post, as usual. Also, you said to remind you to give me your recipe for caramel tarts. I’m hungry! Thanks.

    2 tblspn butter
    1/2 cup sugar
    1 egg
    1-1 1/2 cup SR flour

    1. Melt butter in medium saucepan over low heat. (Alternative method ~ Heat the butter in a glass bowl in the microwave oven for a minute on medium heat.)
    2. Add sugar and stir for 5-10 minutes. (For microwave version ~ add sugar, stir and heat for another one minute on medium and stir again.)Sugar does not have to dissolve completely.
    3. Remove from heat and allow to cool long enough that the egg won’t cook when added.
    4. Quickly stir in the egg.
    5. Add flour gradually and mix to a soft pastry.
    6. Roll and cut into rounds.(It doesn’t matter if you over handle the mix because the firmer the pastry the crispier the shell and I actually like it better that way.)
    7. Place in mini tart shell pan and cook in a moderate oven 180oC until golden.Allow shells to cool and remove from pan.(makes up to three dozen mini shells depending on how thick you make the shells.
    *I have a special mini tart shell tray to cook these but you could possibly use a muffin pan if you don’t have one. Otherwise cook a large version in a normal pie dish.

    Boil an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk for two hours in a saucepan on the stove. Continue topping up water to cover during this process. Remove and allow to cool.

    *Any Australian’s reading this will know that you can now buy the caramel already cooked for you in the can. I don’t believe this is possible in the US though.

    Fill tart shells with caramel and top with whipped cream.
    You can also add a slice or two of banana in the bottom of the tart shell before adding the caramel for a little extra flavour twist.

  9. Well said, Colleen. All except number 8 have been on my mind the past two years. Looking forward to the alternatives!

  10. Wow, this recipe looks so good! Thanks for sharing. I have been feeling a little overwhelmed by all the clutter I have been finding in drawers, cabinets and storage places in general. It seems the more I look the more I find. And sometimes I just keep stuff because I might need it. It has been the case with china, some gifts, etc…I keep thinking that I should be more ruthless in my decluttering, but “Justin Case” keeps bothering me. “What if I need it? What if I throw it away today and come the very next day, I need it?” I know I should have learned here that it is not like that. But it has been hard now that I got to the non-trash part of my declutter.I would appreciate words of encouragement. And, yes, I did encounter some hoarding tendencies in myself, just like Cindy put on her post yesterday.

    • here come words of encouragement:

      picture yourself in a year, needing that exact item, which you have given away just now. how big will be your feeling of regret? can you stand the feeling of regret? will you find another solution, like could you borrow from neighbours/friends/family?
      I mean in the end its only things. your decisions to keep or declutter things is nowhere near important if you see it in the big picture. people matter. not things. no life-threatening situations can arise from decluttering. current motto: what doesnt kill you, makes you stronger. 😉

      good luck, and dont forget: start with the easy things: stuff you dont love.

  11. This article fits perfectly to a “project” I’m presently doing with myself. I make a note of all tiny steps during a day (in fact I dictate them into my IPhone) to find out where I lose time during a day.
    And my findings are very similar to what you listed above. And – it is horrifying to see how much time we are losing due to bad organization of too many items. Time you could have used for relaxing, sports, learning, ….

  12. I suppose if there’s one I’m guilty of it would the “feeling ashamed of how my home looks”. I adore my home. My husband & I have really made it fit to our needs & esthetics. It’s comfy cozy & other than needing a fresh new interior paint color (got the paint just haven’t started painting yet) – it’s a good safe place to be.

    But when we have guests, I immediately find myself darn-near apologizing for not having a sold slab of granite as a countertop or not having a walk-in glass-surround w/glass tile shower (we have the run of the mill regular shower stall) or not having a wood-fired pizza oven in the backyard or not having custom-built cabinetry or not having professional landscaping, etc.

    I absolutely hate this trait in me. It’s unfair to me, my husband & to the house we so love. It makes me come across as ungrateful & when I hear myself apologizing for not having all those upgrades it’s as if I can’t shut myself up. Truly I can’t stop myself & yet simultaneously I can’t stand to hear myself saying those very things aloud. Argh!

    • Jane, if you love your house then let others know. I know it is hard. Our house is always spotless and very decluttered yet my mother is always talking about what others will say. I think that for her it is a deep seated fear of rejection and I’m not really sure why. I think you need to sit down with your husband and see if you can figure out why you are content with your home until others come to look at it. It may even be a trait you picked up from a parent and you don’t realize it. I also think that if you have a really good friend who you can talk to about it you would find help with understanding that others don’t tear it down like you do. What others think shouldn’t matter anyway because you are the one that lives there. You may be projecting your own thoughts onto others when they aren’t really thinking anything about it. Don’t get down on yourself about it. When people come instead of putting down your home find other things to talk about that are fun or exciting or interesting. Ask your husband to help you with this by diverting you to something else if he hears you start to apologize for your house. Make it a team effort. Good luck. I know it isn’t easy. We are all cheering for you.

      • Deb, I agree that this is a holdover habit I inherited from my Mom. We would have guests over & my Mom would immediately go into apology mode over everything. I don’t think I realized that until now as that seemed to go hand in hand with having guests over.
        Well that’s amazing in itself. Couldn’t see the obvious for the obvious.

        • Not having been around my grandparents when Mom was growing up or not often when I was growing up I’m not sure if that is the reason my Mom is like this or not. I just am glad that she is beginning to see it and stop it. Hope that you recognizing where your’s came from will help you stop. I know that’s a biggee.

          • Jane,
            Remember as well, that when you apologise to your guests about your place, that you are placing them in an uncomfortable position whereby they then have to reassure you, as a polite guest, that your home is just fine. I read this thought in the book ‘The Reluctant Entertainer’ by Sandy Coughlin, I think it was in the chapter entitled ‘Joy Busters’! (Coincidently, this book is featured in Today’s Favourite Five list under The Nester’s ‘Creative books that have inspired me’ ).
            Remember that your friends have come because they really want to see You, not your home.

          • Fee, I reserved the book you mentioned at my local library & will pick it up tomorrow!
            The funny thing about all this is I’m not ashamed that my little home doesn’t have a wood fired pizza oven or a full granite slab countertop. I really love it just the way it is. Sure there are always renovations that I would love to have should money be no object but if we didn’t (aside from painting) I still love my home just the way it is!

  13. Love this post. How much more happy, productive and truly content we all could be if we weren’t spending time dealing with our stuff. Having to spend less time cleaning it, sorting it, or just trying to find a place to put it is reason enough to be satisfied with less. It is truly freeing when you no longer feel the need to acquire more and when you get to the point that you can let stuff go. Life is less stressful and having more time to do the things that truly matter, makes it worth it.

  14. We didn’t have guests over for a number of years because our furniture is worn out and our rugs need to be replaced, curtains old and faded but I got tired of always going to someone else’s house and never entertaining. So, this summer, I invited about 20 people for a picnic in the backyard and we had a wonderful time. Those who came into the house did not comment on anything (too gracious, I suppose) but I decided that if they did not want to come back, so be it. So, even though we still haven’t made any changes, I plan to have an indoor party at the holidays. Family and friends are much more important than furniture. My husband seems a little embarassed by the looks of our place but all he needs to do is “hand over some cash”. If he does not want to do that, we will still entertain. The L. R and D. R. have been decluttered and things look good. So, why not? Good food, good friends, good fun. What’s better than that?