Hoarding is more common than you might think it would be,
but not always as bad you would imagine. We all hear about hoarders and some of us even watch television shows about their experiences. We are fascinated by the junk removal companies and decluttering specialists and therapists coming in to help clean out the mess in a house that is uninhabitable. The struggles and overwhelming sense of loss that they experience when forced to part with what looks like garbage to us is unimaginable.
Hoarding is not just living in the mess that you see on TV; that is only the most extreme example. Many people have hoarding tendencies, and often it is only a specific item or a few items that they cannot part with. The definition of hoarding is “a supply or fund stored up and often hidden away.” It is too much of anything. When it is a true disorder it is “a persistent difficulty discarding or party with possessions because of a perceived need to save them”.
As you can see, many of us are hoarders in some way. You always hear people say either I just need to straighten up, or I need to work on getting rid of the clutter. So what is this clutter? We have too many leftover dishes or too many water bottles. The desire to live a less cluttered and more organized life seems like a dream rather than a reality to many. Sometimes we need help from a junk removal company that specializes in decluttering, sometimes we can do it alone, and sometimes it is a combination of the two. If you need help, find a junk removal company or an organizer who can help you to donate your usable unwanted items. However, small steps to deal with these small hoards are usually a manageable first start to achieving that goal. Take out all of those water bottles. Now look at each one individually, and ask these questions.
How many do I truly need based on when and how I use them. When was the last time I used each one. Keep the ones you really use and the amount you truly need. Does this really have a sentimental memory that will be lost if I do not own this water bottle? BE HONEST. Toss out the ones that we all save that can no longer be used, then donate the others and get the satisfaction of knowing someone else will also have a water bottle when they need it. Then follow the rule of one in one out. If that is all of the water bottles you need, unless you have a lifestyle change you will never need any more.
If it will help you to sort, set up three bins before you start, one to toss one to donate and one to keep. Nothing goes into the keep pile from the donate pile unless something to keep goes to be donated.
Now, little by little apply this method to all of your “collections”. Start with the items that will be the easiest for you to sort through and reduce the amount that you own. Go through the drawer with pencils and pens. Clean out the sock drawer and toss the singles. The more items you use this method for and the more often you do it, the easier it will be to do. This is actually decluttering, and is important to do on a regular basis to prevent your possessions from becoming overwhelming. Doing this on a regular basis also helps to reduce the need for a junk removal company when you move. A less cluttered life is a calmer life. Nobody wants to be the person who says “I will never be able to move” because someday all of us want to move. And if you don’t ever plan on moving, you can still be sure no one else is going to want all of that.
The most common thing that we all save too much of is paper. I have too much paper is the universal complaint. In this digital age it is amazing how so many of us still feel overwhelmed by the amount of paper we have. Every day we open the mail box for more. Decluttering our lives from paper is a different problem than decluttering form objects and requires a slightly different approach.
The first step in decluttering our lives from paper is to change our habits. Everyone says they want less paper in their lives and looks at the pile of paper in their homes in amazement. “I do not know where all of this paper came from.” How many of you have ever said this? Obviously, we all know the answer to that question. We brought it into our homes. Therefore, as long as we continue to bring it in, we will never get ahead of the problem.
That is why you change your habits first. Are you really to busy to sort through the mail before you throw it in the corner of the counter? So first, soon as you walk in, sort through that mail and throw away what you do not need, because there will be more tomorrow. At the end of the week when you are “going to get to it” the pile is too big and you really do not have time. If it is sorted and you set aside a half hour each week to review what is necessary, it will not accumulate. You need to designate a time and stick to it as much as possible.
Next, what do you do with that mail that you have sorted? If you throw it in a pile in the corner of the counter it is only slightly better because it still needs to be sorted again. You need a system for the sorted mail. There should be a designated place for coupons and discount offers which gets reviewed monthly. There should be a designated place for bills to pay and items that need immediate attention. There should be a designated place for items that need to be saved based upon what they are. These designated places should not be separate piles on the counter.
Once you have this system in place, and it is working, you are ready to tackle the piles. Use the same system as the new mail, and be methodical. Do not try to do it all at once.
It took time to accumulate and it will take time to declutter. Do not get discouraged.
HELPFUL HINT: Remember, the one piece of paper that is always good to keep is a list. If you have a list and pen handy at all times, you will find that it helps eliminate a lot of paper. It is also easier to review what need to be done from a list then it is to find the paper that was going to remind you. Sometimes, that list can be a notebook with separate pages for different lists. The key is to eliminate the reminder piece of paper.
Hope you find this helpful. If you feel you cannot do it alone and live in central New Jersey, remember we are a phone call away at Do Not Throw It Away 732-586-7525.
Thanks for making it clear that hoarding on TV is the most extreme example. I was worried that all hoarders were like that. I still think they need to get cleaned up though.