Have you ever watched one of those shows on hoarding? There’s Hoarding: Buried Alive, and Hoarders, and probably more; I’ve only watched the two. The programs showcase an individual with the disorder of hoarding, or maybe a whole family that hoards.
The first episode I saw, I was shocked. I couldn’t believe people could live like that! But the more I watched, the more I realized that hoarding is an illness and it has to be treated. I also realized that my own habits were the early stages of hoarding, and if I didn’t change my path, I too would end up living entombed in a mountain of useless junk. I loved my “stuff” and I had emotional attachments to items that didn’t deserve such attention. These things were beginning to own me, instead of the other way around.
After I saw the show, I didn’t immediately hop up and start frantically cleaning, but I did make mental notes of what my goals were. If you feel overwhelmed, just try to start simple:
1. Get rid of things you don’t need or use. I can’t really remember what I have donated or trashed over the past two years, so I guess they weren’t that important (but sometimes, it’s the opposite). Yay, freedom!
2. Make sure things you keep are actually important. For example: I scanned and kept my old photos, but I got rid of the photo album.
3. Keep things that were useful. I got rid of a drawer-full of kitchen utensils. Garlic press? Food scoop? Mini food processor? I have an awesome Chinese-style cleaver that does all three jobs just fine, and doesn’t take up much space. My kitchen tools had better do at least three jobs or they don’t get to stay.
4. Try not to impulse buy items you don’t need. This is a difficult one. I’m looking at a computer keyboard right now that I bought from the thrift store six months ago… and I’ve NEVER used it. It was only $5. But I could have spent that money on something else, and now I have to figure out what to do with this keyboard.
5. Pick small areas to clear out first. This is super important! Each room in my house had mountains of junk forming, so I knew that it was not going to be something I could get done in a day, a weekend, or even a month. Your problems aren’t made in a day, so don’t treat them like that. Pick a small area to work on, get that clear, and then keep it that way. These small victories will motivate you to keep going!
6. Get help. If it’s more than you think you can handle, then see if your friends or family can help you. People that really care about you will probably be more than willing to help you get your house straight! Admitting a problem is the first step.
You will find that the more you get rid of the things, the better you feel. The weight you carry around will get lighter, and lighter. The less junk junk you have, the easier it will be to clean (and it will take less time). When you need to move, you might be able to make just use one truck!
Good luck in your de-cluttering and cleaning adventures!