The longer we live in one location, the more we tend to fill it. We can’t help ourselves from collecting. Before we know it, we’re surrounded by items we do not use or even want anymore. Closets, sheds, basements, attics, garages, and storage units are filled to capacity. All that clutter can cause distraction, agitation, and confusion. Many of us focus much more clearly when our surroundings are clear of excess.
Even well-contained collections can become overwhelming. Acquiring items to add to a collection can be an enjoyable past time, but when those collections became too large for its space or are no longer of interest to us, it’s time to sell or give them away. If we don’t find new homes for our precious items, our loved ones will have to do that, and few family members enjoy our stuff as we do. Our pleasure becomes their burden.
Decluttering begins with one item at a time. If we attack one shelf, drawer, or corner each day, we will eventually work our way through the house as long as we don’t continue to add to the mess elsewhere. From then on, the key to keeping a home clutter-free is to replace items to their proper storage location immediately after use and passing on what we no longer use. Here are a few other suggestions:
- Sort mail immediately after bringing it into the house and toss the junk mail.
- Allow clean-up time after any project, such as filing paperwork, washing dishes and putting ingredients away after cooking/baking, and returning tools to their proper place after working with them.
- Put all groceries and bags away right after shopping.
- Place shoes in one location when entering the home.
- Hang up jackets when entering the home.
- Line up shoes in the closet after removing them.
- Close closet and cabinet doors.
Excessive collecting may be confused with hoarding, however, hoarding is very different. Hoarding was named a disorder and distinct mental illness in 2013 and may be a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, ADHD, or dementia. Approximately 2-5% of the population is believed to have this condition.
Hoarders accumulate large amounts of the same items, find it painful to let go of things, create piles in living areas such as stairways, beds, tables, and shower stalls preventing movement throughout the home. Rather than gaining pleasure from excessive collecting, hoarders may become depressed, and increasingly more so if the spending results in squalor and unsanitary living conditions. Counseling should be sought for these symptoms.