Should I throw this away? Maybe I'll use it for something.
Were you ever in this dilemma?
You probably were, it's normal. You know the feeling that comes to it, right? Now, imagine having it every single time you want to get rid of something. There are no moments of clarity when you clear everything, just the feeling of keeping on to something.
That's hoarding, and it's a psychological disorder. In fact, it's classified under anxiety disorders, and it's complex and serious just as an eating disorder.
According to Help for Hoarders UK, there are over 1.2 million people in the UK who suffer from it, which is approximately 2-5% of the population.
It's not easy to overcome this, but there is a way. The first thing that needs to be done is admitting the problem and getting psychological help.
Along with emotional support, people suffering from hoarding also need help with organising.
Professional organisers & declutterers Sally Ryan (Love2Declutter) and Mimi Bogelund (The Organised Home and Life) shared their experiences with us.
Decluttering tips for hoarders
1. Create categories and subcategories
Mimi points out that having a plan is a starting point. - However hard it may be, trying to work methodically, in specific categories and subcategories can help. Start with what you find easiest.
-You might feel ready to let the paper go, so tackle the subcategories: magazines, newspapers and flyers that were piled up - explains Mimi.
2. Start with small areas
Sally suggests starting with small areas.
- It can be a small drawer, a handbag or just a magazine pile. Deal with each item, one by one. Only clear that one small space and congratulate yourself on what you have achieved, don't beat yourself up about what you have yet to do - says Sally.
3. Make a schedule to make a habit
Creating a schedule with clear goals and sticking to it is another good technique for clearing the space.
- Give yourself a goal of one, two or three items a day with weekends off. Again, pat yourself on the back for decluttering your chosen number of items and don't stress about what is still to do. Decluttering is a habit and takes practice - recommends Sally.
4. Room by room
When you feel ready, try to clean out a whole room. Start with your bathroom. Tell yourself over and over again that keeping old pills can be really harmful. Toss away any personal care products you have over a year. When you're finished with the bathroom, move to the next easiest room.
5. Organise the throwing away part
Decluttering isn't just about clearing one drawer or one room and moving the clutter to another part of your home.
You can't just toss everything in front of your house, or stash the garbage in the backyard as you will most probably find yourself returning some of the items.
Ideally, says Sally, you can do the following with the waste:
- Good quality items: give away to charity.
- Share the sentimental family items with your family and relatives.
- Recycle paper, plastic, metal.
- Sell on Freegle/Freecycle or other pre-loved marketplaces; or sell on a car boot sale (of course, once these lockdowns stop).
6. Box the stuff you still can't throw away
Once you get to that phase that you cleared a lot, but you're still uncertain about some things, box them. But limit the number of that boxes to a maximum of three.
Don't tuck them somewhere in your pantry, shed or attic.
Move them to a storage facility, somewhere out of your sight. After a year passes, if you didn't need any of the items in those boxes, you should get rid of them. How? Like we explained.
7. One in, other out
After you finally clear out the clutter, it will be tough to keep it that way. So, try to stick to a simple rule: One in, other out.
For example, if you buy new jeans, throw one. That will keep your mind and your things in order. Try to be a minimalist with clothing.
Always ask for help
A lot can trigger the hoarding disorder, and as people are different, so are their collecting habits.
From Mimi's experience, collected items are rarely something practical.
- Items that hoarders collect vary hugely from each individual and rarely have anything to do with monetary value or practical use - says Mimi.
People can pile anything, magazines, books, toy cars, video cassettes, old cables, shampoo bottles... The important thing is that they shouldn't be judged.
If you have a problem with your clutter, always remember to go back to the first step - ask for psychological help.