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Not everyone that has too much stuff has Hoarding Disorder. According to the International OCD Foundation’s website, the main characteristics of HD are:
- Collecting & keeping a lot of items that appear to be useless or of little value.
- The clutter prevents them from using their living spaces as intended.
- The clutter prevents them from performing activities of daily living.
If these characteristics accurately define your stuff, you may have Hoarding Disorder. If you think you or a loved one may have HD, I encourage you to learn more about this disorder. There are 2 websites that I highly recommend to check out; the International OCD Foundation & ICD (Institute For Challenging Disorganization).
In actuality, we all probably have too much stuff. We lead busy lives and have a lot on our minds trying to keep up with day to day activities. We also need things to help us in so many ways. There are things to help with daily activities, to help with cleaning, to help with learning & growing, and beautiful things that help us feel good about ourselves and our living environment.
Keeping on the topic of our busy lives, we tend to acquire frequently, and discard less frequently. Perhaps because we think we will discard later and then later never comes. This can cause things to pile up which causes clutter.
It seems that this clutter manifests in the blink of an eye. We go along day to day doing what we do, and then something catches our eye. A pile of stuff that we intended to put away someday, that you move to get to something you need now. Then you start to look around and realize you have way too much stuff!
You can’t find a thing you need, so you go out and buy another one only to find the thing that you thought you didn’t have. Or you spend so much time looking for something you need to get to an appointment that you end up late. Or that credit card bill you misplaced is now overdue so you end paying a late fee.
The best approach is a proactive approach. By proactive, I mean, creating a plan or get into a routine to deal with purchases as you bring them into the house. Assign a home to everything you bring into your house right away. If you delay, you end up with piles of clutter and could become overwhelmed and not know where to start to fix this issue. The next step is to remove at least 1 thing when you bring something into your home. By doing this you’re keeping your things proportionate to your living space.
If you weren’t proactive about previous acquisitions, and you just realized you have too much stuff, now is the time to do something about it. Most of us don’t think about our stuff until someone close to us needs help with downsizing their things to move to a smaller home, or a loved one passes away and we have to clean out their house to sell. It’s an eye opening moment. We start to realize that this could be us one day. Then we start to think about our stuff and who is going to have to do the very same thing we are doing right now with our things.
The best approach is to get into the mindset that you will be moving to a smaller home, even if you are not at that stage. Take a good look around your home at all your things and make decisions about each and every thing. You don’t have to do it all at once, take it a little bit at a time. For example, you could start with some things that you inherited. Keep things that are most important to you and ask relatives if they want the others that may be more important to them.
When you realize you need to reduce the amount of the things in your home, and do a little bit over a period of time, when/if the time comes that you need to move to a smaller home, the task of moving will be a lot easier and less stressful.