What is Hoarding?
Have you known someone whom you might have categorized as a hoarder? Well, before you can identify a hoarder, you first have to truly understand what makes a hoarder.
Hoarding is classified as a psychological disorder distinguished by a person who has trouble throwing items away without feeling a strong emotional or sentimental attachment to them. This could include a very wide variety of items such as trash, new products still in the packaging, clothing, animals, collectibles, etc. Hoarding behaviors have also been tied to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and some of the common methods of treating OCD can also be applied to treating the behaviors of hoarding.
Symptoms of Hoarding
There are believed to be over 750,000 cases of hoarding in North America alone. It is far more common than most would think. It is becoming far too easy to acquire possessions nowadays at a pace that exceeds the space we have to store them. This is a problem that didn’t exist so much 100 years ago. In earlier times, peoples living spaces were normally larger and the consumer market wasn’t anywhere near as large as it is today.
The symptoms of hoarding are usually obvious. If you have a hard time closing cabinets or drawers because the amount of “stuff” in them makes it nearly impossible, that would be a beginning sign. If you commonly think about throw an item away and find you talk yourself out of it only to never pick that object up again, that would be another sign. If you are having trouble just walking through your living or working spaces without injuring yourself on the piles of clutter surrounding you, it would be highly recommended to seek out a professional organizers help in getting organized.
Effects of Hoarding
There are numerous negative effects of hoarding behaviors. These effects can negatively have an impact on your personal and professional life, your physical health, and most importantly your children’s future.
It’s is no mystery how your personal life can be affected by hoarding. Hoarders commonly refuse to let stranger or even close family members enter their home. This is caused by the embarrassment of their living conditions and the fear of being judged by others.
Physical health can easily be compromised by living in hoarding type conditions. Mold and dangerous insects tend to collect in cluttered areas in homes. Another huge concern is the fire hazards caused by hoarding conditions. More on the fire hazards of clutter can be found here.
Children’s lives can be hugely affected by their parents hoarding habits. It is common for children of hoarders to take on similar behaviors since they are raised to believe it is a normal and acceptable way to live. It only becomes apparent to them later in childhood that other families don’t live in such disarray when perhaps they sleepover at friends homes or even worse, they invite a friend over to sleep at their home. Raising a child to be disorganized will surely and undoubtedly affect their chances of achieving success in life.
Solutions for Hoarders
Ready to eliminate those hoarding habits for good and finally bring clarity to your home? Here are five steps to a new clutter-free you:
1. Only Handle It Once (OHIO)
This is one of my personal favorites and I feel the most important as it is a huge time saver and there is nothing more valuable to us than time. Quit wasting your time continuously moving objects from one place to another. Define a home for an object once and make sure the object is always in its “home place” if you are not using it.
2. Keep it Simple
Much time is also wasted when people over-think things before deciding what to do with an item. Trash it or keep it? Sentimental or not? Worth money or not? Make a quick decision and be done with it. The more time you waste debating with yourself the less time you have. How much is your time worth to you?
3. Minimal vs More
One of the best examples I have for this tip involves USB cables. It is very common for people to have a box with 10 or more USB cables in a tangled mess. This is simply because most electronic devices come with a usb cable whether you need it or not. It seems like a valuable item that could always come in handy so you keep it and throw it in the pile. Next thing you know, you have a drawer thats practically exploding with usb cables that you will never use. Make habit of keeping 1-2 duplicate items MAX.
4. Daily Discipline
Ever wonder why most individuals that were or still are in the military stay very organized? Discipline is the answer. The military purposely trains enlistees to remain very self-disciplined. Make a habit of having 20 minute daily de-cluttering sessions. This small amount of time will greatly improve your efficiency and greatly reduce your stress levels.
5. Holler for Help
It is of course very common for hoarders to be embarrassed of their habits and living situations. Many times this embarrassment will stop them from reaching out for help in a time of need. It is easy for hoarding habits to get so far out of control that before the person knows it, they can barely move in their own home! At this point, it all becomes so overwhelming that they have no idea where to even start organizing and de-cluttering. Professional Organizers are trained to identify the items that should stay in the home and the items that should go. Professional Organizers also usually have additional resources for hoarders such as therapists specializing in hoarding or OCD behaviors.
Do you think you might show symptoms of hoarding behaviors?