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What to Do When the Hoarder is You

Updated on September 24, 2014
That Grrl profile image

Laura likes retro, vintage, old things. Choosing to preserve or repurpose is her dilemma - can't change your mind once started.


I am a dragon, by birthdate, we are supposed to have a hoard of treasure. I'm sure that's how I seem to end up surrounded by piles of stuff, all kept in one special room. Unfortunately it's also my bedroom, work room, computer room and living room. All one room because I only have one room to myself in the house. It's also my storage room, but that's pretty obvious.

My family think I'm keeping too much stuff, that I'm just not putting things away, etc. They don't say the word, hoarder, but I do. Usually just to myself because no one wants to be a hoarder, especially not after seeing some of the worst case scenarios on TV.

I read that a couple of the signs that you may be a hoarder are having clutter around you in piles, especially paper things. Another sign is that you buy storage containers and other methods of storing things and yet you still have more stuff which you need to store. I do buy storage things and I use some of them. Some don't work out as I hoped but I don't take them back - they get added to the clutter cause I might find a use for them. To be fair, sometimes I do, but a lot of the time I don't.

Tidy Your Books and Reward Yourself with Bookends


Why Do We Keep Stuff?

We keep things we think we will need to use later. Or, things we plan to use later. But, later takes a long time to come, a bit too often.

We can't decide on what to keep, what to get rid of (or give away/ recycle) so we keep everything. Trying to be a perfectionist and have everything we could ever need for any reason.

We have a sentimental attachment to a thing or a memory from that thing and we don't want to let it go, in case we forget. (In this case I have learned to take a photo of it and post it on my blog, keep it on the computer hard drive or a DVD disk).

Reward Yourself for a Clean Bedroom


Stop Procrastinating - Start Motivating

Don't keep procrastinating. Find yourself some motivation and begin dealing with your hoard today. My motivation is that I'm just sick of dealing with all this stuff. It's taking over too much of my personal space and I'm really tired of moving stuff out of my way. There isn't much here that's really worth the frustration of dealing with it all every day.

Pick apart something smaller from the mass. Don't put pressure on yourself, expecting to succeed in dealing with all of it in one day.

The other day I tidied up my computer desk (just a bit late for Clean Off Your Desk Day) and the area around it. I got mostly everything moved off or out of the way but a lot of it really had no where to go from there. Some things were easy, like hair clips and a vitamin bottle. They have other places they can be put away.

Next up are clothes and the clothes closet. There are clothes I won't wear or don't fit (for size or style reasons) and I shouldn't be keeping them. It's not easy to make hard decisions about clothes, some of them have been around long enough that I remember something nice happening when I wore that sweater, etc. But, it's really just a sweater, with a few holes in it. I don't even want to wear it out any more.

That's my plan for the day. I'm going to stop writing now and get to it. When I finish writing this post I will (hopefully) have that much done and have given myself that much more space and breathing room (not to mention walking room).

Of course, the bigger job is still left... all that hoard of paper and books. But, that will be another day.

A Tidy Desk Can be Rewarded with a Desk Set

A dragon desk set.
A dragon desk set. | Source
Tiffany Studios of New York City, New York, manufactured this beautiful nine-piece, gilt-bronze desk set circa 1900.
Tiffany Studios of New York City, New York, manufactured this beautiful nine-piece, gilt-bronze desk set circa 1900. | Source

Keep the Hoard from Coming Back (or Ever Starting)

When Bringing Stuff In...

Before you even buy something new (or bring something new home) consider whether you really need it or just want it. Is it worth spending money on, do you have the money to spend on it? Are you going to use it, or just leave it somewhere and forget about it?

Get in to the habit of not bringing in more than you need. Don't bring in something new unless you have used up or finished with something old. You won't have a hoard if you keep a balance of stuff in and stuff out.

Put Your Stuff Away...

Don't leave things packed in bags when you bring them home. Begin using them (something like a replacement part) or put them away where they need to be right away, not later.

Put things away once they are used. Or, after they are washed from being used. Get into the habit of not leaving the small tidying up for later and it won't build into a much bigger job over time.

When you finish a job, like laundry, making and having dinner, home repairs, etc. don't consider the job to be finished until you have done the clean up and put away your tools. Don't leave the clean up for later - later might be later than you think.

Be sensible about putting things away. Things you use together can be put away together. Especially basics like shampoo, toothpaste - things you would use in the bathroom should be kept together in the bathroom. This will make everything easier to find and quicker for you to get things done without looking for the things you need (if they were scattered around in different places).

Don't use more than a minimum amount of space for storage. If you go over the space you have, make some decisions about the stuff you are storing. How much of it do you really need? When did you last actually use it? Could you use something else you already have instead?

Don't Keep Too Much Stuff...

Become a recycler. Live by the 3 R's: recycle, reuse and reduce. I also like the fourth R - repurpose. It's about using what you have to make what you need, usually changing it to suit a new purpose. With anything paper especially, recycle it - don't keep it longer than you really need it. Don't build up piles of paper into mountains of paper.

Keep a donation box or bag around, probably in a closet. Once a month, plan to donate books to the second hand bookstore, clothes to the thrift stores, unwanted gifts to a charity,etc. This is a great way to let you keep a balance of old things going out and new things coming in.


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    • That Grrl profile image

      Laura Brown 5 years ago from Barrie, Ontario, Canada

      I didn't get mine done yet. But I sorted through two piles. I'm working on books now. I stopped keeping any fiction once I read it. But, I still have a lot of non-fiction around. They are harder to let go.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      I have a paper issue too. In fact, that's my plan for the day to deal with paper. I probably won't be able to finish the job today, but hopefully it will look better.

    • That Grrl profile image

      Laura Brown 5 years ago from Barrie, Ontario, Canada

      Paper is the hardest to deal with! My brother and Mom don't understand and bug me about my books and paper stuff.

    • Thundermama profile image

      Catherine Taylor 5 years ago from Canada

      Oh hoarding, some many of us struggle with this to some degree. The hoarding gene runs deep in my family so I find myself working hard to avoid ending up on an episode of "Hoarders." Good for you for working on it and sharing your journey. Good luck and let me know if you come up with any tips to conquer the paper beast.

    • profile image

      mymoneywish 5 years ago

      This is definitely worth doing and staying on top of regularly that's for sure! Not only is it easier to know what you have by doing it, its also easier to know what you need - an added benefit of course is that you can possibly make some money (back) from your initial purchases!

      Thanks for the suggestions and ideas. I know I need to work on my garage. :)