So you did it… again… brought home yet another gem for your “collection”. But it’s so perfect, you say, but you may never run across another one again, you say, but it was such a good deal, you say. Well I say – really? I mean REALLY? Let’s face it – when your stuff starts taking over your life – there’s a problem. But not one too great it can’t be solved. Just because you have hoarding tendencies doesn’t mean you have to become a hoarder. Of all the television shows out there, Hoarders is probably one of the ones you will want to avoid being on the MOST. Check out these tips for staying on top of your stuff so that it does not get out of control.
1. Know your weakness.
You’ve already taken the crucial first step by admitting that you have hoarding tendencies – congratulations! Now it’s time to really search your soul and your space – your house, your lawn, your workshop – wherever you are seeing stuff pile up, and figure out what it is that you can’t give up and that you just keep bringing in.
Be aware of when you bring things in: was it a good deal? Free? You didn’t have one yet? Try and be aware of when you keep things. Was it part of a set? Does it have sentimental value? You may need it one day? Just start by realizing those triggers of “I’ve got to have” and “I can’t get rid of” and try and stop yourself every time you feel that way to evaluate the situation.
2. Ask yourself “do I really need this”?
Perhaps what you have found is the rarest of the rare and there were only a few ever made. Does this mean you have to be the one to have it? How much joy is it going to bring to your life? Do you even have a place to put it?
You may find you are able to “go without” more than you think. Help yourself out with this by making a list of things you use every day, or on a weekly basis. If you are finding that many things you own are not on this list, it may be time to see them out the door!
3. One in, one out rule.
For every thing you bring into your house, another thing must go. This means if you come home with ten things in your bag, you need to be prepared for ten things to go. This is excellent if your wardrobe is bursting at the seams and you can barely close your drawers.
Book lovers, this is going to be a painful one for you but a good one. If books are your thing, think of giving them away as spreading the wealth. Try to keep in your library only the ones you are really attached to or are going to read again. This is also why the KOBO was invented. That way you CAN have all your books around with none of the clutter.
4. Space matters.
Do you have room for these items in your home? And by room I don’t mean the top of a teetering pile that you can’t see the bottom of. If you NEED to bring that thing into your space (home, workshop, shed) then you NEED to have a place for it. Books require a bookshelf, shoes require a shoe rack, and collectibles require proper display or storage. There are storage solutions for pretty much everything these days so keep the things you love well kept by storing them properly.
5. Get rid of things you don’t need.
I know… to someone who just really wants to have it and keep it this sounds like nails on a chalkboard, but hear this out. If something is really worth having and keeping it should at least see the light of day once a season.
That means four times a year I want you to go through your things and either use them or at least dust them off so they are well maintained. This is also the time to assess the items. If they have fallen into disrepair, consider sending them somewhere they can get the attention and time they need.
If they are projects waiting to happen that you haven’t gotten around to in a year, you need to seriously think about if you’re ever going to get around to them or if you need to send them to a new home. If you can’t handle four times a year, try to at least do a spring and fall cleaning and get rid of the things you no longer need or can no longer take care of.
6. Let your bankbook do the talking.
Most things cost money. Even if it’s a small amount here and a little bit there it can really add up! Stop buying for a week, then a month, and see how much you save! Have stuff sitting in a storage locker? That’s costing you money! If you have so many belongings that you require a storage locker for an indefinite amount of time, then you may want to reconsider their value to you and think about the savings you’ll achieve when you pass them along to another happy owner.
7. Try to go a week without bringing anything new into your home.
This means you plan to not bring in anything new and you can’t break the rule even if you spot something free on the side of the curb – someone else’s trash – your treasure! I mean how could someone just throw that away!? Stop yourself. Take a deep breath and walk away from it. If it was really meant to be yours it may still be there when your ‘week off’ is up.
The one thing that’s hard to do this with is food. Obviously when you are buying groceries you aren’t expected to take food out of your house every time, but people can and do hoard food. If you are finding that is your weakness, be aware of what is in your fridge and/or pantry before you shop. Once you’ve gone a week try going two weeks, then a month. You’ll be amazed at the willpower within you.
8. Seek professional help.
If all of the above fail, you may need to bring in someone else to help you. There are therapists who can help you work through the “whys” with you so you can understand why you are keeping what you keep or bringing in what you bring in. There are also professional organizers who can work through it with you item by item if you’re finding it’s just too much.
Hoarding tendencies aren’t something that are going to disappear overnight, but if you work at them little by little your space is sure to have less clutter and more happiness in the long run. Always remember that people are more important than things. The friendships you have and the relationships you build are far more valuable than your possessions. Material goods: who really needs them, anyhow!