There are lots of different possible tactics to use to declutter our homes. This video by Brittany Taylor makes some suggestions:
- Pack everything you own into boxes. Take things out as you use them. After a pre-determined period of time, you can safely get rid of what’s still in the boxes, because you haven’t used that stuff for 3 / 6 / 12 months.
- Pick an area of the home to work on – a room, or a piece of furniture. Set a schedule and commit to working on it.
- Just dive in and take it all on!
As with a lot of decluttering advice, these techniques aren’t perfectly suited for full-on hoarders. However, as is so often the case, there are tips and tricks we can use and adapt to suit our circumstances. I think the first idea, above, is a particularly useful one to reassure us that we really don’t necessarily need all 80 of our teacups.
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.
Some of this is a bit basic, but it’s good to be reminded…
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.
I want to be able to sleep on my whole bed, not just curl up in the small section that’s clear.
I want to be able to move from one part of my home to another without climbing over crap.
I want to not panic when someone knocks on the door, in case they need to come in.
I want to be able to invite friends and family over.
I want to hate myself less.
I want to be able to use my cooker and my fridge easily.
I want to be able to find things when I need them.
On the one hand, I’ve nearly got 100 bags out of the house already. On the other, it just seems to be highlighting just how very far I’ve got to come.
Sometimes, I’m enthused and determined and I will get this mess sorted. But others I freeze in utter despair and overwhelm.
This is horrible. I live in horrible surroundings and it’s all my fault. And I just don’t know what to do about it.
If it was someone else I’d advise them that the only way to do it was bit by bit – the only way to eat an elephant is bite by bite, right?
But then I look around myself and it feels utterly impossible. That nothing other than a massive bulldozer could ever get this place sorted.
It makes me scared.
I may need to revise my goal of 100 bags this month – it’s only the 7th of January and 81 bags of rubbish have left the house already.
I know I’m all fired up and motivated, and I won’t keep up this level of decluttering on a daily basis, but still. I’m pretty impressed with myself.
And that doesn’t happen often.
By the end of January, I will have:
- got rid of 100 bags of stuff (trashed, donated and sold)
- listed 50 items for sale on eBay and / or Amazon
- offered 5 items on Freecycle.
I will check in at the end of the month and report back on how I did!
FLYLady. I tried to follow her programme a few years ago but, getting her emails through the day to remind me to do a new task, I found it impossible. It seemed to be designed for people who had nothing to do but wait for her mails and it just didn’t suit someone with other things to do (like work, go out, see friends etc.)
However, there is some useful stuff in this video about how and where to start a decluttering journey. It’s common sense in many ways, but those of us with hoarded houses have to admit that we lack a certain amount of common sense in these areas!! Enjoy.