Hide Your Stuff: mini-mission

Sometimes, decluttering can be a challenge if you share living space with someone. You own things together and just because you decide those things don’t matter, doesn’t mean your significant other agrees. Typically, I am from the lead by example camp. Get rid of your own stuff first and often, the other person will join in.

Today’s mini-mission is a little loop hole to leading by example. I am not suggesting that you are sneaky with your spouse or significant other, but there is a way to get rid of your mutual stuff without even having a conversation.

Hide your stuff.

Here is a really good example, based on a true story…

In our bedroom, my husband and I had three vases on our dresser. They were very minimalist in design and nice to look at, but also unneccessary, in my opinion. To see how unneccessary they really were, I hid them. I was cleaning one afternoon, and just wrapped each one up and hid them. I forgot about them. A month went by. My husband never asked me where they were.

In all fairness, I didn’t hide them to deceive my husband. In fact, I wasn’t sure I wanted to get rid of them at all and that’s why I hid them. Before I hauled them out to one of our standing “donate” spots in the garage, I asked him if he minded. He said, “no, I like those.” I said, “they haven’t been in the bedroom for more than a month”.

At that point, he agreed that they were unnessesary and we tossed them. I do believe that some things are necessary even if they are not useful, but these vases were not.

This mini-mission is even helpful if you live alone. Sometimes it’s hard to let go of something you think you need or want. Hide your stuff and see what you think after a little time apart.

For more experiments to simplify your life, read Mini-missions for Simplicity. It’s available on the Amazon Kindle store, but you don’t need a Kindle to read it. Kindle books can also be read using the Free Kindle Reader App for your Web Browser, PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry, or Android.


  1. says

    I love it… and in my opinion it’s not sneaky.
    It’s actually a good way to test and make the point that maybe we don’t need something, if we don’t even notice it missing! ;o)

    • Courtney Carver says

      If anything it helps to differentiate what we keep because “we are used to it” and what we keep “because we love”

  2. says

    That’s funny that he noticed that they were gone for a month! My husband doesn’t notice a thing – except when we take candy from his special bowl. I totally agree, little by little, hide it until you can get rid of it. I’m trying this with the bathroom (UN)necessities right now, they’re in a box in the loft just awaiting the “donation toss”.

    Lori :)

  3. says

    What a great idea! My kids have two shelves full of books that they don’t read. I think I will “hide” them for a while and see what happens. I will hold them for a month or 2 and see which ones they request back. The rest will be sorted and sold or donated. Book clutter be gone!

    • Ann says

      As the 61-year old daughter of a mother who did just that with my books and toys when I was a child (many, many house moves might just justify her actions), it is only this year that I have come to the point where, as an adult, I can bear to part with anything! And that was only triggered by ill-health and the realisation that if I don’t do it now, either we won’t be able to move into a smaller home some day, or my only daughter will have to face it when we (my husband and I) die,
      Those books were given to your children – discuss it with them, and respect their decisions. I can vouch that you will do far more harm than good otherwise.


  4. Felipe says

    Wow, mini-misson time! Will do this immediately!
    I already did my monthly editing last weekend in my house, but this will full-proof to what to toss away and what to keep.

  5. says

    I love this idea. I’m afraid my non-minimalist partner would be upset if she learned something had been hidden and may want to keep it out of spite! Do you have any tips for where to keep a donation pile in a 900 sq ft apartment with not garage? That’s a big hurdle for me. Cheers,

    • Courtney Carver says

      Sergio, You could make it a bit of a game and let her know that you are going to hide something and see if can guess what it is.

      In terms of a donation pile in a small space, I would recommend a box right by your front door where you can drop things. When the box is full, tape it up and haul it out.

  6. says

    Hi Courtney,

    I’ve done the “hide it” game with myself too! Whenever I was really attached to something and having a hard time parting with it (but still some part of me wanted to let it go) I would put it out of sight for a couple weeks. I’d know pretty quickly if it was something I was ready to let go of or not. If my thoughts kept going back to it, it was a keeper. If I forgot about it completely it was tossed!

    I recently did this with a ratty gray sweater that I have. I love it and wear it all the time but it’s soooo past it’s prime. I hid it in the car for a week and learned I wasn’t ready to live without it yet! So ugly or not, it’s my comfort sweater!

    Other things, out the door!


    • Courtney Carver says

      Tanja, I love that you kept your ratty sweater. Sometimes those comfort items are just what we need…until we don’t.

  7. says

    This is a great idea – and I live alone so it is only the stuff I think I may “need” in the future which I will “hide.” I have boxes of stuff I have yet to uncover – but some is still needed – like the long ago divorce decree and the house papers….most of the rest is old, old. Thanks for the encouragement and direction.

    • Courtney Carver says

      Roberta, you could always have a box dedicated to important papers and then let the rest go, if that is what you are striving for.

  8. says

    I’ve done the hide it method also. When I was having a difficult time decluttering things like home decorations or shoes, I put them away for two months. I eventually became used to seeing the room without the items or not having them available and then it was OK to donate them.

  9. says

    I hid some of hubs old jeans and after 2 months he asked me where they were. He said he’d gladly trade in his good jeans for his old ones back. I gave them back;)

    I’m taking 3 garbage bags of clothes to the Goodwill donation box. They’re clothes I moved here over 3 years ago and haven’t worn since I’ve been here. I got them together while picking out my 33 things. Hubs think’s I’m crazy but he’s OK with it.

    I think the more I change the more he’ll come around. I’m counting on it.

    • Courtney Carver says

      Tess, my husband and I were out last night, and he said, “By the way, I’ve hid something of yours and you’ll never guess what it is. It might be makeup or clothes or something else”. I said, “Oh, you read my post today?”

      He actually didn’t hide anything. (I don’t think), but we both had a good laugh about it

  10. Alicia says

    I’ve done something similar to hiding my things. I moved back in June and there are some boxes of bath and body works “stuff” that I’ve never looked for. I guess that means its time to get rid of them :-)

  11. says

    I hide my kids stuff all the time, this works much better than throwing it away as if they then ask for it I can retrieve and as such not throw away something they care for. If they do not, it gets donated. Simple!

  12. says

    Brilliant idea!

    It reminds me a little of a trick I learned from a friend of mine. At the beginning of the year (or the season), turn all the hangers in your closet backwards. Then, every time you wear something, hang it back up the right way. By the end of the year (or the season), you can see the items you never even took off the hanger. Those are the things that definitely need to go!

  13. says

    That is one thing that Project 333 has taught me. With the remainder of my clothes put away (out of sight, in the garage, in boxes) I dont even remember I have them, let alone want them.

    I am packing for our big move when I went out to find a pair of shoes. I started going through the boxes, and with 6 boxes of clothes, I think i pulled out about 10 items. (we wont have the rest of our stuff shipped to us for 6 months).

    So, 43 items for 6 months? Should be easy.

  14. Bernadette says

    I love your comments, but I’d say this: Don’t toss! One persons clutter can be another person’s one valued object. I would much rather give my clutter to someone who may not have a vase, e.g., or even something as basic as pots and pans, than send one more perfectly useable object into a landfill.

  15. says

    In a way we did this. During our big purge we stored all our stuff in the garage pending a big garage sale. For the few weeks that stuff was in there we were able to go back out and retrieve things if we needed them. Out of hundreds of items purged I think we only retrieved maybe one item. As we get down to our second round of decluttering, we may try this technique if we come across some items we’re unsure of.

  16. says

    I hide my son’s old toys. The stuff that he no longer plays with or that is no longer age appropriate. Then I will bring it out later and ask if he would like to give them to the younger neighbor kids. Often he will say “Wow I forgot I even had that. Yes lets give that to them”.

  17. Dawn says

    A friend recently sent me the link to your website and I’m so glad! For the past year I have been feeling really overwhelmed by all the ‘stuff’ in my house. I donated bins of clothes and my closets are still full. Here’s the kicker….everyday I stare in my closet like I have nothing to wear. Really, why do I need 2 ski jackets and 3 wool coats? In no way am I a happier or better person because of what I have. Anyway, I just wanted to say that your blog came into my life at the perfect time…haha.

    I look forward to reading more! Thanks for sharing!

  18. says

    I’ve tried to sneak items out of the house and I always get caught…Hiding them is a much better idea. That way, if my family notices something is missing, I can just pull it out of it’s hidey hole.

  19. Inmy says

    When my kids were little (over 25 years ago!) I was always harping at them to clean their rooms. Then I realized they were overwhelmed with all their “toys & stuff”. Back then I was saving almost everything…the old “if there is any useful life in it you keep it” mindset. To put an end to the never-ending issue of their rooms I told them to pick out 5 toys each & the rest were going to be given away. Well, in my old mindset instead of dumping the rest of the toys I hid them. After 6 months of less “clean your room” issues – I surprised them & took them to the hiding place where they could swap any or all of their 5 toys for different ones. It was like Christmas! They remember it to this day! Eventually the toys were gotten rid of…

  20. says

    I’ve begun decluttering and getting rid of a good deal of my stuff however, my wife doesn’t really understand. I really like this idea, and I’m looking for others to help get my spouse on this journey and want to be on it as well.

  21. Janice Marie says

    We recently had all the carpeting in our house cleaned. My nedroom was terribly cluttered, lots and lots of stuff on the floor. I boxed up 3 moving boxes of stuff and pushed them into a spare bedroom. I will go thru the boxes this winter (I live in chilly NorthEast) and put things away properly, donate or dispose of them. I expect to have this “project” completed by May, when it will be time for Gardening, my favorite hobby/avocation. In the meantime, I love my clean and tidy bedroom with the clean rug!

  22. Kerry says

    That is an amazing idea. I have pared down trememdously after my boys broke a few important vases I had for years. I put them away safe keeping, and looked around the rooms to see if I could get rid of more. I have two mosaic vases/and plates I have on my tv stand, I think I will try that. My new philosophy is “if it doesn’t hang on the wall, we don’t need it.” I have kept it simple. Thanks for the tip.

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