Monday, July 8, 2013

Avoiding Hoarding

A lot of people joke about hoarding and they don't understand that hoarding is both a real problem, and very difficult to fight.

There are some resources out there on not being a hoarder, but most of them are really standard decluttering.  Standard decluttering is different than having bizarre emotional attachments to objects because they belonged to your grandmother, even though objectively you recognize them as junk.  Standard decluttering is different from the paralyzing inability to throw things away because you don't like the idea of wasting them and because they might be useful one day!  Standard decluttering does not take into account the fact that you are, for example, extremely worried about hurting your furniture's feelings.  This sounds insane, I know, but the sooner everybody realizes that hoarders are not normal, the sooner we can get tips and ideas that are actually helpful.

There are some actually useful tips out there.  For example, this article from has some good points, like you maybe do not need to keep all of your old report cards.  For the record, not only does my mom have all of my old report cards, she has all of her old report cards, all of my grandparents old report cards, and probably some of my great grandfather's.  I was raised to believe there was value in saving old relics, and the worst part of it is that it's true.  I thought it was really cool when I found my grandmother's report card and my great grandfather's old accounting books.  So I don't know where the balance is of keeping just enough stuff that my great-grandkids think it's cool to see how things were way back when your report card was actually on paper, and didn't just come up on your internet glasses right after you took your test, but not having a house full of stuff.

So far the biggest tip I have in not becoming a hoarder is to employ the one-year method.  Recently, we went over to my sister in law's for lunch.  She opened the door wearing a really cute purple dress.  It immediately looked familiar, and I realized I hadn't seen my cute purple sundress in awhile, and because it's really awkward to say to somebody, "I think that's mine", I eventually just complimented it and she said, "thanks! I have no idea where it came from - Mom found it in the spare room when she was cleaning it out."  I laughed, told her it was mine, and told her to keep it because we realized it had been there since 2011 and I clearly hadn't missed it.  Whenever we move, we go through any boxes that we moved but didn't unpack because we didn't have an immediate need for them, which results in a lot of stuff being thrown away.  I haven't yet employed the method of turning all of my hangers backwards and then getting rid of anything at the end of the season that I haven't pulled out to wear and turned the right way around.

I'm still working out a way to deal with gifts.  I read something awhile ago that stated that if a gift comes with an obligation, like you have to keep it, or you have to put it in x place, or you have to keep it until so-and-so wants it back, then it isn't a gift.  The meaning of a gift is that you can do anything you want with the gift, which includes throwing it away if it isn't to your taste or stops being useful.  I'm not there yet on getting rid of gifts, but I'm working on it.  Anyone have any tips?

Are you prone to hoarding?  What do you do to work through your issues?

1 comment:

  1. I definitely do not think I'm a hoarder-we're pretty successful in keeping our possessions in check.

    What I do feel a little weird about sometimes is hauling around photo albums. I love them, paging through them occasionally is really nice. (I even read a study one time that said people who look at pictures of their past regularly are happier.) But we don't plan to have kids. Who is going to want all of these pictures I take of our adventures? We don't have any posterity that will want them...