9 DECLUTTERING TIPS FOR HOARDERS
Decluttering can be difficult for many of us. Knowing what to keep and what to let go of isn’t always a simple choice. If you’re prone to hoarding, or live with a hoarder, the sheer scale of the task can seem overwhelming. Here are some easy strategies and 9 decluttering tips for hoarders.
DECLUTTERING ISN’T ALWAYS EASY
Decluttering isn’t always easy. It’s not always as simple and straightforward as keeping whatever ‘sparks joy’, is useful or adds value in some way.
Decluttering can be tough for some, particularly when you have a lot of stuff which you don’t want to get rid of.
We hold on to our clutter for a variety of reasons – fear, security, attachment. Clearing that clutter means facing up to some complicated emotions as well as the physical act of sorting through our stuff.
If you struggle because you’re a hoarder, or you live with a hoarder, here are 9 decluttering tips for hoarders which I hope may help!
DECLUTTERING AND KIDS
Decluttering when you have kids, particularly little kids who love toys and collecting things, is quite a challenge. How well it goes and how much success you have, both in the process and sustainably for the future, depends very much on how you approach the whole decluttering process. Tell your kids that you’re throwing out over half of their toys and not letting them have any new toys, ever, is not the way to go!
DECLUTTERING AND MY HUSBAND
I had the same problem with my husband who is a collector, a hoarder, a ‘what if’ ‘just in case’ sceptic who doesn’t like change and couldn’t really see the benefits of clearing our space.
To be fair, he works long hours so it’s mostly my job to run the home and look after the kids after school. The mega impact of decluttering my home and making it easier and quicker to get everything done, and then simplifying the rest of my life in the same way, was pretty much lost on him… apart from the fact that he noticed I was happier and the immense knock-on effect for the rest of our family!
So, when it came to me announcing to my family that I was trialling out what I’d learnt about the scientific effects of clutter on stress by decluttering my home, my family thought I was nuts. They gave it a go for my sake, but we had a few challenges along the way.
So, using the benefits of my trial and error and learning how to approach the whole decluttering process with my family, here’s my top decluttering tips for hoarders.
DECLUTTERING TIPS FOR HOARDERS
#1 Don’t expect to see a difference overnight
If you’re a hoarder, you might well be a little sceptical of the benefits. Hoarders generally don’t become hoarders overnight. It takes time to develop and so it’ll take time to re-learn old habits.
If you expect to see a magical difference to your physical space and mental well-being, then you need to give it a little time. Things won’t change overnight just because you’ve thrown something out, and it’s no excuse not to give it a go in the first place just because there’s no immediate difference.
#2 Pick an easy place to start
If you’re new to decluttering or find the process difficult or emotional, then make it easy on yourself. Admit that you find decluttering a challenge, that you’re easily going to be side-tracked or put off and start in an easy place.
Pick an area of your home, or a room, or a type of item that’s going to be as easy as possible to start with so you can practice your decluttering skills. Decluttering gets easier with practice as you learn to sift through things and become more comfortable making decisions on whether you want to keep or get rid of something.
I always suggest the bathroom is a good place to start as it’s not full of sentimental items to hold you up, you know what you use and what you don’t and it doesn’t tend to be a massive space with huge storage areas so you can get it done relatively quickly and efficiently. Don’t start with somewhere notoriously tough like the attic or garage!
#3 Deal with the ‘what if’ scenario
‘What if I need that again?’ my hoarder husband would ask. It’s a common reason why we hold on to things in case we might use it or need it in the future.
I always think it’s best to deal with this question head-on with an honest answer. A hoarder will sniff out a lie from a mile off. I can’t honestly say to my husband that I’ve never needed something that I’ve got rid of. The worst that can happen is that you need to buy another. But that happens so rarely that I don’t even think about it.
The benefit I get from decluttering my stuff massively outweighs those very, very odd occasions when I’ve got rid of something I later wish I’d kept. And, I’ve got decluttering down to a fine art so I know what I’m throwing out (or donating) and what items I’m keeping.
If something is high value, difficult to replace and I’ve used it a lot (but not just at the moment) then I’ll think long and hard about getting rid of it. Just weigh up in your own mind whether you really, really value that item enough to keep looking after it.
#4 Declutter in waves
Which brings me on to my next top tip. Don’t go from all to nothing in one go. Try decluttering in waves.
The first time around grab the obvious big things that you don’t like or never, ever use and get rid of those. Sit with that for a bit and get comfortable with what you’ve thrown out and what you’ve got left. When you’re ready, declutter the same area in a second sweep, removing what you can. Keep doing repeated rounds of decluttering until you can’t declutter anything further.
#5 The waste of money argument
Some people say that decluttering your home is just a waste of money and they use this argument to avoid decluttering. I personally disagree and think that the most waste comes about if you purchase an item unwisely, not when you get rid of it. Check out my post on Minimalism and shopping if you keep buying things you don’t really want or need!
I like to donate most of my unwanted stuff so even if I am getting rid of it, I know someone else will have some benefit. Very occasionally I do have to buy something which I’d previously decluttered but this happens so rarely. Decluttering my home has given me so many benefits that I don’t ever regret throwing something out. I just put it down to one of those things and move on.
#6 Knowing what to keep and what to get rid of
This is always a tricky one for decluttering beginners and it does get easier with practice. But, if you’re a hoarder, this can be a really big stumbling block to stop you from decluttering. My suggestion would be to keep it really simple.
Just ask yourself 3 questions:
- Do I love it?
- Do I need it?
- Does it add value?
If the answer is no to all 3 questions, then let it go.
For more information on knowing what to declutter, check out this post I wrote on how to decide what to declutter.
#7 Have a plan for your decluttered items
Once you’ve put all your effort into decluttering, don’t undo this hard work by leaving your unwanted items lying around. Not only will they still be cluttering up your space, but you might be tempted to dig around and pull out a few things!
Have a plan before you declutter for what you’re going to do with your unwanted stuff and deal with it all as part of the decluttering process. Don’t stop until you’ve taken your unwanted items to the charity shop or rubbish tip!
#8 Set a timer
Sometimes things are easier if we break them down into manageable chunks. The same goes for decluttering. If it seems too daunting or too big a job, then set your timer for 10 minutes and declutter until the alarm goes off. Ten minutes each day will be better than not doing it at all, and as I’ve said before, decluttering takes practice. You’ll get more efficient and find it easier, the more you do it.
#9 Go easy on yourself
If you’ve been a hoarder for a long time, it may take a while for you to adapt to a new way of thinking about your stuff and what you do with it. Old habits die hard.
Reward yourself if you’ve completed a decluttering project. This doesn’t mean you can go out and buy loads of clutter again but go out and have fun with the kids, treat yourself to takeaway pizza instead of having to cook. Decluttering isn’t meant to be a form of punishment so have fun with it!