So, you've figured out that you're a hoarder, too? Or, in the very least, you have a room or space that could use some winter cleansing. Well, it's a new year and no better time like the present. Let's get started...
First I caution you, even for the mild hoarder, purging isn't always smooth. You'll find lost items and use every excuse to re-incorporate them into your life, regardless that you've gotten along without it. Don't stress or feel torn. Breathe. Put the item aside and come back to it in 24 hours. Then take action: put it to use, donate or discard it.
Secondly, don't try to do everything and every room and/or space at once. It probably took you years to accumulate; it may take a few months to declutter. Procrastination is not an option so put yourself on a schedule. I've been purging household items every two weeks and for the first time in years I can actually see my counter. I'm giving myself 4 hours a week to make a dent in my second bedroom/office.
Unless imperative, refrain from making purchases for an area you're working on. You want to view and feel the benefit of a clean space. Don't cheat yourself.
Look at cleansing from the perspective of 'I get to do it' opposed to 'I have or need to do it'. Anything done with gratitude and humility increases your joy and positive result, exponentially.
Finally, the big one. Don't beat yourself up! The world does it enough, and the world doesn't need your help. With love and kindness should you handle you. Imagine if this were a cherished loved one. Treat yourself how you'd treat them. Progress is process.
The following are a few more tips to keep handy to ensure your cleansing lasts.
1) Ask yourself, Do I Want or Need it? If you want it, follow-up with why, how you're going to use it and where you are going to store it? If you find you need it, consider using to replace a similar, worn or unused item.
2) If acquiring with the intention to Donate, then Donate It. Give yourself a time-frame, once a month, bi-weekly, quarterly or whatever time period you choose. If not donated by the time you choose, trash it.
3) Be honest. If you haven't used the item or wouldn't have known where to find it if needed, discard it. If it's broken and you're not the fixer-upper type, discard it. If someone offers you something you won't use, politely refuse it.
4) Try the Oprah Winfrey Closet Hanger Experiment. I'm definitely trying this one. Identify wardrobe pieces to clear out, hang all clothes with the hangers in the reverse direction. After you wear an item, return it to the closet with the hangar facing the correct direction. After six months, you'll have a clear picture of which clothes you can easily discard. Do this also with your home: cleaners, toys, linen, tools, hobbies and craft items.
5) If you have to talk yourself into it, you probably don't need or want it. Having to convince yourself is a clear sign you don't need it. This rule is steadfast when acquiring, keeping or discarding items.
6) Do not take on other people's junk. If you do nothing else, follow this rule implicitly! Avoid garage sales unless you are disciplined to purchase something you know you need and/or will use. If a person offers you "stuff" don't take it without looking at each item to determine if it is something you need, want and can really use. Remember they're purging and clearing their own space. No need for you to clutter your space with their junk.
7) Return other's item(s) in a timely fashion. You're not a storage unit so don't hold on to people's stuff like platters, dishes etc. Even if you have the space, you need it for your own items. If a dish or dessert walks out of my house, it walks out in disposable containers I don't expect or want back. If a dish walks into my house and you want the container make yourself available for its timely return. You can come get it, request that I drop it off or it's getting trashed. Keyword: timely.
There is a small chance that you'll throw something away you wish you hadn't. A friend once told me she wished she hung onto a martini shaker. She'd acquired one once and gave it away. After gentle probing I learned that the shaker she spoke of with regret was from twenty years ago. I reminded her that if she retained it-- as she moved through three states--she probably wouldn't be able to locate it now. She'd still go out and buy it. So need to hold regret about items you once had and could use now, especially if you wouldn't have used it until now.
Again, take one day, one moment at a time. Hoarding comes in many forms and manifests on many levels. You may have a space or a room. Start there. If you're hoarding is severe, don't be embarrassed, seek professional help.
The entire notion is to help us live our most fulfilling and best lives. This is Toni Staton Harris Checkin' Up and In on now I know better, I can do better... hoarding. How are you clearing space?