If there’s one massive thing I’ve learned in this dehoarding journey so far, it’s to start with the easy stuff.
When I have a torn cardboard box that I know will be of no use whatsoever, I don’t have much difficulty getting my head round why that has to go into the trash.
When I have an empty food wrapper, I have no difficulty getting my head round why that has to go into the trash.
But what’s interesting is that the more tricky items – perhaps things that are pretty but not especially useful, or things that I don’t like the look of but have some nostalgic element – are getting easier to deal with, the more of this I do.
So, if you’re feeling disheartened, if you feel that you’ll never be able to get rid of the really hard stuff because you really can’t deal with your 12 identical saucepans, don’t panic. Go easier. Find a piece of blatant trash and deal with that instead. Because the longer you do this for, the easier it will be to get rid of 10 of those 12 identical saucepans.
But don’t fret about that. In the meantime, just go with the things that do feel easy. The rest will come, in time.
I read a lot about decluttering and hoarding and minimalism and simplicity and all of that stuff, in the hope of finding the magic trick I need to get this hoard out of my house and having a home that looks normal.
If I could, I’d skip the advice that was aimed at people with ‘a bit of clutter’ and focus on advice for those of us with significant hoards, but there just isn’t enough of that available. So, I look at the tips and guidance aimed at people with a few more items of clothing or kitchen equipment than they need, and try my best to apply them in a way that suits my problem.
The thing that provoked this post was hearing some advice about throwing out / giving away one item a day. I understand this as a concept – it feels manageable and consistency is important.
But if a hoarder gets rid of one item a day, it will take them about 480 billion years* to have a tidy home (*may be a slight exaggeration).
So, can advice like this be translated in a way that hoarders can relate to? I guess my goal of getting rid of 100 bags of stuff a month is a seriously super-sized version of one item a day, so the principles of consistency and making continual progress are still there.
Perhaps that means that we can take advice for ‘normal’ people and adapt and apply it in a way that’s more realistic for us. I hope so.
One of the biggest barriers I face when I’m trying to ‘dehoard’ is that I get overwhelmed, I don’t know where to start, and I give up before even trying.
I look out at the mounds of clothes and the piles of black binbags and the broken shelves of books and the wardrobe that I can’t even get to, and any small action I can take seems pointless.
What’s the use of picking up that book or that pair of jeans when the house looks like this?!
I know I need to get over this, and I know that it is a matter of hundreds and hundreds of small steps in order to make a big difference.
This video has some interesting tips. The audio quality isn’t great, but Gayle Goddard (aka the Clutter Fairy) does seem to understand the problem of feeling overwhelmed when you’re trying to declutter, including sabotaging yourself, making things look worse than before you started, and feeling defeated.
She looks at taking small bites and consistency as ways to beat the sense of overwhelm when decluttering.