You may Do you have a crowded closet, a collection of old birthday cards that you can never get rid of but haven’t read since you opened it, or a garage full of decade-old junk that serves no purpose.
Look, we are all human. We attach objects and clothes to precious memories and feelings. But if you build up too much clutter, it can seriously affect your life. And when it gets to that point, you’ve moved from being a little sentimental to full of hoarding.
Maybe you still have the shirt you were wearing when you met your partner, even though you no longer fit in and it has holes in it. And that̵
In the meantime, you’re moving and arguing with the same partner about what to keep out of your ever-growing wardrobe. And they are the souvenir that you should really cherish. So what’s up?
It’s a complicated problem, finding it difficult to give away possessions, which sometimes has to do with fears, letting go of the past, worrying, being wasteful, or just not knowing where to go with organizing your mountain of possessions should begin.
But it is possible to overcome these obstacles and get rid of absolutely all (or well, maybe only half) of that extra material.
Stashing everything we’ve ever bought, touched, or blown on our nose can lead to serious stress, and stressful life events can also be the cause of hoarding.
For one thing, an overcrowded desk can be distracting and overstimulating when it’s time to buckle up.
And have to look around constantly Really Keeping in the nearest garbage truck or in a donation box aimed at those who really need it can create feelings of guilt and fear.
(You don’t always have to feel guilty about avoiding chores – Sofa Sunday can be one.)
Hoarding disorder is a diagnosable condition according to the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistics Guide for Mental Disorders.
It falls under the umbrella of obsessive-compulsive disorder and related disorders and can often coexist with obsessive-compulsive disorder. And that’s not how it looks on TV.
Researchers estimate that 2.5 percent of people in the United States have a hoarding disorder, which prevents them from taking full advantage of their living space and interfering with their daily lives.
Prevalence of hoarding disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31200169/
(We have plenty of tips for maximizing a small living space if you need them.)
But for those not living with this mental illness, getting rid of extra things can be liberating and stimulating. Some organizational experts say that throwing things away is not about selfishness: it is often a way of avoiding change.
A house full of clutter can also reflect the procrastination habits of a person who is simply too distracted or unmotivated to get rid of old ticket stubs and used trash bags.
Whether you have a hoarding disorder (and should consult a psychologist if you feel like it) or just need to develop a strategy on how to organize your life, let us give you the complete guide.
Cleaning up and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder are not the same thing at all – we’ll clarify the difference here.
It can sometimes be difficult to resolve physical problems before dealing with mental and emotional clutter and letting go of the past.
A newly cleaned room feels peaceful and spacious – not to mention being fully functional after the 15-year-old treadmill clothes horse was sent to a better location.
But clearing up clutter is much easier said than done. There are plenty of excuses we can use to get ourselves out of cleaning up, like not having enough time, being too tired, or thinking we’re going to use this stuff at some point.
(Maybe that broken pin could be a hair accessory! Maybe this 2016 calendar is useful on the other timeline! Maybe me become Listen to the K-Fed album again! Note: Neither of these things are going to happen and probably for the better.)
Fortunately, we have some suggestions to make the task a little easier. Try these 12 tips and watch the clutter go away without the need for an English governess.
1. Take about 20 minutes a day to clean
That way, you don’t have to worry about the closet swallowing you up and opening you up again in Narnia, or starting a job that you will never quit. You may not clean everything up, but you will develop a healthy habit and it doesn’t seem like such an intimidating task.
We found 35 ways to incorporate healthier habits into your day.
2. Question your reasoning
Ask yourself: are you keeping this article because it makes you happy? Or because you think you should keep it?
If it’s the latter, throw the broken tamagotchi in the trash. Then you don’t even have to clean up Tamagotchi poop. This is a cleanup within a cleanup. Cleaning.
The best reason not to throw things away is to reduce food waste – here’s how.
3. Grab the “Maybes”
As you go through gift items, make a pile of items you might need and hide them somewhere for a month. Or if you live with someone else, let them do that.
If later this month you find that you don’t even need them, they probably aren’t strictly necessary to keep. To garbage (or recycle) with them.
4. Remember that your memories are not in physical objects
They are in your head. It’s hard to give away sentimental items like a great grandparent’s dinner set, but sticking to the dinner set doesn’t mean you will forget about the great grandparents.
Also, anyone you remember would hate to believe that clinging to this physical object causes so much distress. Perhaps take some time to really sit down with her memories instead of hoarding and forgetting valuable items.
And if you’re still clinging to your ex’s old sweater, forget about it right away.
5. Throw away the stack of old magazines
If you haven’t read them already, you probably won’t. If you’ve read them already, it’s unlikely that you will search them again. Instead, keep a folder of your favorite magazine clippings and donate (or recycle) the rest of the collection to a local library.
6. Update your wardrobe
Try this trick: at the start of a new season, turn all of the hangers so they are pointing to the right.
After wearing an item once, turn its hanger to the left. When the season is over, just leave the clothes on the hangers facing left. (So long, Spice Girls Halloween ’98 costume! Friendship never ends.)
When venturing into your underwear drawer to clean it, you should ask yourself these five questions first.
7. Avoid dangers!
There may be some expired medication and makeup hidden in the bathroom cabinet. Avoid accidental doses of 20 year old Tylenol and throw that stuff away. (Follow these guidelines for safe disposal.)
Expiration dates are important. We looked at what they really mean.
8. Digitize it
Throw away old receipts that you don’t need for tax day or items that you don’t return. Then scan the remaining receipts, invoices, and other financial documents and save them in cyberspace. You can even just snap a photo on your phone – the job is done. These papers don’t have to hang around.
9. Make some money
Use that old blender in the attic to whip up a cash smoothie. Try selling unused items (that are still working properly) online or through a yard sale instead of just throwing them in the trash.
10. Donate items to charity
You could use this pancake spatula sometime in the next century, but there’s probably someone out there who needs it right now.
Don’t wait for the holidays to do a good deed: try the local Salvation Army or goodwill, or check out this list of charities that accept used books, sports equipment, and musical instruments.
You can even donate old cars that are taking up driveway space to sell for parts.
The buzz of knowing you’ve helped someone (both the charity and the person in need of a cheap pancake spatula that’s so bad they’ll buy it from Goodwill) is a great substitute for the security you get, if you hold onto old objects.
Here’s how to sell and organize your trash.
11. Hire a professional organizer
It can be costly to get help from a cleanup professional, but when clutter is a serious problem, it can be worth it when you need a serious head start on year-old fools. There are also certified KonMari consultants available if you want to learn more about the * art * of interference suppression and what you really enjoy.
However, it is free if you do not maintain this neatly arranged state. So make sure you make progress towards clearer headspace before you cash in on a professional.
You can try organizing your fridge yourself. Here is how.
12. Set up a system
In the future, try to deal with clutter regularly and promptly remove old shopping bags, used batteries, and ugly gifts.
Donate a ton of unwanted items every month or even every week. And prevent your bedroom from being overcrowded: every time you buy a new item,an old. Don’t elude the shiny new things; make sure they don’t turn into a bunch of musty old things overnight.