Worth the effort

I received the following statement in a comment from Michelle yesterday…

“This blog is just awesome. I feel better in my surroundings, things are easier to clean and keep organized. I think I’m saving money because I’ve been trying to use up what we already have. Thanks so much, Colleen, for your encouragement and support.”

I get messages like this quite often, sometimes from people who were sceptical that they could reach their goals and it is very satisfying. Not just for myself, that my blog is helping others, but more so, I get to share in the joy of their success and realisation of the positive effect it has on their lives.

Many people start out just wanting to reduce the amount of stuff in their homes. Others want to be able to receive guests at short notice without feeling embarrassed about the state of their homes. Some really are bogged down deeply in clutter while others like myself want to be able to downsize to a more minimalist existence. But one thing is for sure that nearly everyone of them are pleasantly surprised at how freeing it is, and how much easier it is to maintain their homes with less stuff.

And quite often, like Michelle has mentioned, people also realise that this new uncluttered, less materialistic lifestyle has a positive effect on their finances.

One of the most unexpected effect on my life is the appearance of my grocery cart when I go food shopping. The fact that my son has also moved out in that time made a big difference but now my cart is mostly full of fresh meat and vegetables. This is the eco friendly behaviour my decluttering quickly turned me on to. I buy so few cleaners, very little processed food, fewer paper products etc.  Just one more reason to to praise the effects decluttering can have on life.

So if you have any doubt that the effort is worth it then doubt no more.

Today’s Mini Mission

Pull out some old hobby equipment and test your desire to rekindle the interest in that pastime. If the desire is strong enough you will find the time and effort, if not let it go.

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.
  • 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 […]
  • Mini Mission Monday ~ Memorabilia Items Mini Mission Monday is about finding ten minutes a day to declutter. To make it easy for you, each Monday I set seven declutter missions, one for each day of the week for you to follow. It […]
About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. It is definitely worth the effort and I too appreciate your blog! 🙂 We didn’t do a whole lot with unpacking this weekend, instead we were working on getting our old place ready to sell and on Sunday took some time off to enjoy our new neighborhood with a walk to the park that is a mile away. Even so, we did manage to fill another box with items we don’t need- lightbulbs that aren’t the right size for the new house, a basket that had a purpose in the last place that doesn’t here, and a few other things as we came across them.

    • Hi Melissa, yet again out moves sound so similar. I don’t have lightbulbs that don’t fit but there were some left here as spares from the last people. However we want to convert to LEDs so those will have to go. Also we have found many items that has a purpose in the last house (because it has more rooms) that aren’t needed here. My kids are benefitting from that situation. My son is hanging our for my Simple Human rubbish bin that doesn’t work in our kitchen because the space doesn’t really allow for a bin and we are having one installed inside the cupboard under the sink. Every time I see my son he asks if I am ready to hand over the bin.

      • Lol. That’s funny about the bin but really neat you have someone who can directly benefit from the things that don’t work in your new home. Most of my family lives 2000 miles away on the other coast so it’s not very easy to send things their way. I have on occassion done this, but really try to keep it reasonable. For awhile there my mom was asking me to send all kinds of things back that she had bought for me but I was now ready to declutter. I mailed a sewing machine, a sleeping bag, a jewelry box, a train set, and a glass Christmas ornament before I decided that this was getting out of hand! Mostly I take things to the Goodwill or bring them into work if I think someone there can use the item. I did mail a toaster to my Grandma when hers broke and we happened to have an extra one we weren’t using (back in the early declutter days when I seemed to have 3 or more of everything because my husband and I had just gotten married and combined our homes for the first time).

  2. Hi there! Thanks for the shout-out, Colleen. 😉

    Melissa, boy did you just hit on something – lightbulbs! Honest to Pete, how many different bulbs can there be? It would sure be less costly if everything took a similar bulb. I had a really hard time finding one to go in a new lamp from Ikea – it was a bulb I had never even seen before. Argh. I bought an extra one “just in case.” LOL

    • Michelle, I know what you mean about light bulbs. We have too many of them for that very reason. You can’t buy one of anything either. I am gradually changing to LED lights. They are more expensive but they last ages so are worth it in the long run.

      • I love the LED bulbs and have been buying these when I can too. I really like that they don’t contain mercury like the CFL twisty bulbs do.

        • I know what you mean about the mercury in the “twisty” bulbs. I have 3 ceiling fans with 4 bulbs each and a few lamps, etc. that need LEDs. We have track lighting in three places too. It was put in by the former owners. I’d like to do something with those too.

      • They don’t only last longer Deb J, they use a fraction of the power.

      • We have two fixtures in our new kitchen that take two bulbs each and the bases aren’t normal. I could only find CFL replacements for them at the hardware store (at $9 per bulb). I looked online to see if they make LED versions of these lights and they do but they are $35 each! That’s more than I am willing to pay for a single lightbulb, so I guess we’ll be using the CFLs in those fixtures for now.

    • I feel like I need an electrical engineering degree at our new house!!! Every time a light goes out I think, great what kind of weird light does *that* fixture take? I too have been buying an extra light bulb when I find the right kind to replace what just went out. We have bulbs with strange bases (not the normal screw type), bulbs that are teeny tiny flourecent things, bulbs that are strange wattages (who uses 4 forty watt bulbs for one fixture?!) When I can I’ve been buying LED bulbs to replace the dead bulbs, but some of them are so strange I don’t believe LED is an option. Then ofcourse RIGHT after getting home from the hardware store on one such outing and feeling proud of myself that I found and replaced the lights in the livingroom, a bulb in the dining room burned out!!! lol. I haven’t had the heart yet to climb up on the ladder to check out what I have to go running for now. lol.

      • Hi Melissa, Nearly every light in my new place takes the same bulbs so that makes my life easy. I haven’t climbed up yet to see what goes in the living room fixtures thought. I went to the hardware store looking for a bulb for the rangehood over my stove. The women in the lighting section was not very helpful. She was far to intent on what she was doing to care less about my needs and was not friendly either. So I went over to the lighting place across the car park. The bulbs usually cost more over there but they always know exactly what I need. Then the next time I know what to look for and I buy it at the hardware store without needing assistance.

        • I didn’t realize what a luxury it is to have normal uniform bulbs before I moved into our new place!!! lol. Every room has multiple unique fixtures that take the strangest bulbs. Even our bathrooms have odd fixtures that take bulbs that are bizarre (and of course both bathrooms have fixtures that are different from eachother!) It’s true that sometimes it’s worth it to pay extra for helpful service. I actually had to go to multiple stores last time I needed a bulb because the first two stores didn’t carry the kind I needed. Oh well. Eventually I’ll learn what each room needs and where to get said bulb.

    • Hi Michelle, it is I who should be thanking you. So thank you for the lovely words. And congratulations on your decluttering success.

  3. Colleen, I appreciate your blog very much too. It keeps me from giving up with it takes so long to get Mom on board on things. I’m so glad that she is doing so much better. Now I wish I could get her to give up all the harsh, bad for the environment cleaners. Have you or anyone else come across anything good for washing dishes or doing laundry? Mom still is the hot water, laundry soap, and softener gal. I have been able to change her when it comes to the water idea on some things but that’s about it.

    • Hi Deb J, thank for those kinds words. You are part of the blog too, so give yourself a pat on the back also.
      As for the cleaners, for the dishes I just buy eco friendly detergent. It seems to work perfectly well. In the laundry I use normal detergent for now because I received a carton (12 boxes) when I bought my last machine. It is meant to be a years supply but I think that will last be until about 2017 because I use much less than the package suggests but my clothes still get nice and clean. However they are plenty of homemade laundry detergent recipes on line that you could try. For softener I use white vinegar but if it is the smell that your mom likes just add a couple of drops of essential oil to the vinegar when you put it in the machine.

      • Colleen, we use an eco friendly dish soap too but I would love to find something we can make ourselves with little effort. I’ve seen many laundry soaps online but would like to find someone who has tried some so I can get some feedback.

        • Idgy of the North

          I have been lurking for past year and inspired by this group. We began decluttering in Oct. 2010 and downsized our house 3 years ago. We are still finding items that we don’t use that we either donate or sell. Definitely a journey.

          Deb J, I have a recipe for you. We have used this recipe for 18 months (http://www.canadianpreppersnetwork.com/2011/12/saving-money-with-homemade-laundry-soap.html) with great results. The recipe lasts our family of 4 more than 6 months with doing a load of laundry/day. We use vinegar instead of softener. Clothes come out clean with no chemical smell. For nasty stains/odours, we pre-soak in bucket of water with a squirt of dish soap, some washing soda and capful of hydrogen peroxide.

          • Hi Idgy of the North and a belated welcome to 365 Less Things. It sure is a journey and like you I am still finding the odd items that can go. Actually mostly it is my husband who is parting with things but to me that is even better.

          • Idgy of the North, thank you so much for the recipe. I can’t wait to try using homemade laundry soap.

        • Natalie (@NatalieInCA)

          Hi Deb, I make my own laundry detergent, have been for 2 years now. It takes a bit of prep time but it is so worth it for the environment, my family’s health and my wallet! I grate half a bar of castile soap, then mix with 1 cup of Washing Soda (not baking soda) and 1 cup of Borax. I shake my container before each use, and use 2 tablespoons per load – I have two kids so loads are always full. 🙂 Like Colleen, I use vinegar for softener. Once dry, the vinegar smell disappears.

          • Natalie, thanks for this information. I need to try this. Does this smell much? I’m allergic to perfumes in things. I’m excited to try this.

          • Natalie (@NatalieInCA)

            Hi DebJ, I use a Dr. Bronner castile bar soap. It is dry but it works so well that I’ve never tried a liquid one.

          • Thanks Natalie for the name of your soap. I will look for it.

        • Natalie (@NatalieInCA)

          There is no fragances in the washing soda and borax. It all depends on which bar soap you choose. I use a castile soap which is all natural, no perfumes. Make sure to pick a bar soap you are not allergic to and that leaves no residues.
          When I first started doing this, I kept some laundry detergent, just in case I was not satisfied with my homemade recipe, and also as a backup in case I run out of the homemade one and had no time to make a new batch. Guess what, I love it so much, that I never got to use the rest of my expensive dye free, fragrance free bottle! I gave it to a friend. 🙂

          • Thanks for the information Natalie. What form of castile soap do you use? DO you make this dry or do you liquify it? If dry, have you ever made a liquid one?

    • I would work on the softener idea first, because softener actually isn’t great for your skin, as it stays in the fabrics. As my mom was sensitive to certain chemicals and perfumes I never was used to using softener and I’m glad for it. I am however for hygienic reasons a fan of hot water, too. A hot wash every few times cleans the washing machine, too. Then, however, my laundry has become a lot dirtier lately due to my work. I’m for the first time in my life tempted by bleach etc. as my laundry is sometimes far from spotless when I take it out of the machine. I experimented with a few self made detergents a couple of years/months ago, but they never were as good as store-bought ones. I’m not happy with buying detergent and the packaging involved either though. I’m going for eco labels, but I’m not sure if that really makes a difference.

      • Sanna, I agree with you about softeners. They are horrible. Yet, we need something because of the water here. We have a filter on all the water coming into the house and then another on the fridge just to be able to drink it. It is just so hard and full of stuff. I like your idea of the drops of essential oils into the vinegar.

        • Hi Deb, hard water is awful. We had a water softner installed in our new house and it makes a big difference. We had one on our condo too. We still use filters for our drinking water from the kitchen sink and the fridge because the water softner doesn’t make the water taste any better. The water softner does protect our plumbing and help with laundry though!

          • Melissa, we checked into a softner but found that the whole house filter seems to do more. The water is not as hard and tastes better. The only thing we seem to have problems with is the clothes. But, I think part of it might be because my Mom has been so into softener that we have such a buildup in our clothes that is the reason and not the water. But I can’t get her to understand that. I have one load of clothes that I was separate from hers because I want them washed in cold water. I may try using the vinegar for a few weeks and see what happens. Maybe that way I can convince her.

      • Hi Sanna, I am not a cold wash girl either even though they say it is just as efficient but better for the environment. Experience tells me that it isn’t as efficient so I still do at least a warm wash.

  4. Great post. I have been de-cluttering for years. I even I had a small business a few years ago helping people sort things out prior to downsizing etc. Like you I found people were relieved and much happier with themselves once they had let go of unnecessary or no longer needed ‘stuff’. I used to say it was like having a monkey taken off your back – you felt much lighter!
    Something I still try to do personally is not to accumulate paperback books. Once they are read, pass them on to friends or family with the proviso that they are NOT to be returned – either pass them on to someone else or donate to a Charity Shop.
    I also go through my clothes a couple of times a year. Anything I haven’t worn for ages is donated.

  5. I second every single word. Lately I have been decluttering on an almost daily basis, I found long lost items, got rid of excess and diminished my posessions. I cleared some space and cleaned the flat. I have had several great conversations about decluttering, or better reasoning what to keep and what not and why and helped with some hard decisions.
    I am so impressed all over again. Being back into the daily decluttering I am much more on top of my stuff. and I enjoy it everyday.

    it reminds me of scientific research: you read a sentence like “you should only keep stuff you use and love” and think: oh yeah, I got it. then you think about it more and suddenly you notice: oh wow, NOW I got it. after a certain amount of time and digging into the matter, it dawns on you that there is a new understanding with every new debth you reach. I have the feeling that only now – after more than two years of decluttering – I understand the full meaning of “you should only keep stuff you use and love”.

    • Hi Lena, that is a great description of “Getting it”. Sometimes I still come to a deeper understanding of certain elements of why to let go. I also often experience the realisation dawn on my readers. Which is why I repeat the same ideas over and over again with a slightly different slant.

      • and it works amazingly. this blog not only changed my life but so many others too. you can proudly say, you made the world a bit better.
        decluttering became my secret addiction. 😉

  6. Even though I’m not always around and commenting, I too appreciate your blog and your encouragement, Colleen. What helps me most is thinking about ‘one thing a day’.

    • Hi Willow, it is always nice to see your comments come through because you are one of my very first readers. Not to mention having met you in person. How is the kitchen bench doing these days? Any less clutter in that area? And how is the professor?

  7. Hi Colleen, This blog has been a huge help to me, too, and I thank you for the inspiration. I started the thing a day decluttering last April 1 and I’m still going! Everyone’s comments have helped me get rid of so many things I never thought about releasing, particularly obligation items (especially gifts) and mementos. Whenever I lose momentum, I read a few blog entries and comments. I’d recommend keeping a list of items as you declutter. I keep a list on a legal pad by writing down each day along the left column and jotting down decluttered items as they go in the donation pile. If I miss a few days of decluttering, I make sure to fill in the empty days next time I get on a roll. Also, it’s fun to look over the list and imagine all that stuff in a big pile!

    We are replacing our bulbs with LEDs, too. At Florida’s electricity rates, the payback period for the 65 watt equivalent bulbs is less than 2 years, if the bulb is used about 4-5 hours a day. And the bulbs are brighter, so our house is less like a bear’s hibernation cave!

    • Hi June, thank you for your kind word about the blog, it really is a community effort here when it comes to the encouragement. I understand the list thing to. Sometimes being able to add something to the list is encouragement enough to find something to declutter.

  8. Hi Colleen, I can’t tell you how pleased I am that I stumbled upon your blog almost two years ago. I think my husband is very pleased as well! Although I still have a long way to go, there is already a noticeable difference in our house, it is much quicker to clean and our whole mindset about acquiring things has changed completely. I am very grateful to you and to everyone here who comments and shares their experiences, it is a huge inspiration and encouragement.

  9. I have thoroughly enjoyed this blog and I have gained a tremendous amount of inspiration and ideas from it for over a year now. It is great to be part of a community where everyone has the same common goal of wanting to live with less and it is neat to hear the results that it brings about for each person. Sometimes I think about how simple the idea is, how that getting rid of stuff will make your life happier and easier in so many ways. However simple the concept is, each person has to be ready for that change to take place though before they can start on the journey. For me, I was ready to start letting go of stuff that I no longer needed or used, so I started researching decluttering tips on the internet and came upon this website. It certainly got me going in the right direction and has kept me motivated every day. I am not done with my decluttering but I am well on my way. I lost count a long time ago of the number of trips that I have made to the donation center. Each trip makes you feel lighter in so many ways.

  10. It is interesting how one positive behavior pattern leads to another. You can save money and eat better and lower your carbon footprint. The blessings just keep coming. I agree completely!

  11. I love this blog – the posts, the comments and the sense of community. I’ve been declutering all my life, on and off and in different stages. This blog has encouraged and enabled me to let go some emotional momentos I never thought I would part with and also helps me feel sane because I could easily become obsessed ( well OH thinks I already am obsessed) with decluttering – I can’t really raise the subject at home any more without bring made to feel like a totally mad bonkers freak. But, visitors to the house always comment on how it feels uncluttered, calm and lovely and they wish they had that, and I absolutely can’t stand feeling hemmed in by stuff 🙂 thank you all x