8,000 things gone, only 2,000 to go
Recently, the subject of hoarding has garnered a lot of attention in the media. So, when you find yourself in a bit of a clutter crisis like I did, it’s hard not to wonder where your problem rates on the grand scale of clutter.
80 days and 8,000 things ago, if you asked me if I was a hoarder, I would have unequivocally said: “No,” and promptly pointed the finger at my husband, Squirrel.
So I was shocked to discover that while I lack the compulsion to excessively acquire things that is characteristic of hoarding, I have a number of traits that psychology professor,Randy Frost, describes as causing hoarding problems. What’s more is that I seem to have unconsciously tailored my 100 things 100 days project to circumvent these habits.
I am a visual spatial organizer.
– I have to see something to remember it. Reducing my possessions via 100 things 100 days means I can spread things out in my closets and drawers where I can see them. Knowing where everything is “in space” really helps me remember where stuff is when I need it. That leaves me few things to organize categorically like bills, health records, travel documents, insurance papers etc. I should tell you that Squirrel took over the care of important papers around about the time I lost the kids health cards.
I have trouble categorizing objects.
– I purposely left organizing and categorizing out of the project. Keeping focussed on the goal of moving unwanted or unneeded things out of my home helped me from getting lost in a myriad of organizing dilemmas. The best part is that only keeping things I use regularly means that they practically organize themselves. I keep everything close to where I use it the most. Easy!
I exhibit perfectionism.
– I used to delay throwing things out because I didn’t want to toss anything that can be recycled or vice versa. Yes, I want to do garbage perfectly. A few google searches was all it took to compile a list of resources that answered most of my recycling questions. Now I do my best to find a good home for my stuff and, failing that, I toss it. I’d rather take the guilt hit myself than donating something that charities have to spend their time and resources disposing of. And 100 things is just 100 things, it’s neither good nor bad.
I have difficulty concentrating on (and sticking to tasks) that require decision making.
When I started the project, I knew I had not stuck to anything long enough to solve my clutter problem. All those decisions were exhausting! So, I pared down the questions that used to plague my organizing sessions (Where does it belong? What other things go with it? How should I store it? Will someone’s feelings be hurt if I donate it? Where did we get it? Don’t we have another one just like this? Could we use this somewhere else? etc. etc. etc.) to two:
1) Do we want it or need it?
2) Where can I recycle/dispose of it?
And when deciding whether I want something I ask myself one more thing: Do I want to dust, launder, fluff, move, find, fix, clean or otherwise maintain this? It has to add a lot of value to my life to inspire me to dust!
A year ago, I felt so defeated by my stuff that I was ready to hire someone to deal with it. Now, I’m glad I didn’t. Having all 8,000 things actually pass through my hands gave me invaluable insight into my purchasing and cluttering habits.
What’s the greatest gift of the project so far? It’s realigned my priorities. I have an active family and we spend a lot of our weekends away mountain biking or skiing. As much as we all like our stuff, none of us would trade any of our freedom to stay home and maintain it.
If you’re as fascinated with your habits as I am, this video by hoarding expert Randy Frost is required viewing.
And if you wonder where your clutter falls in the grand scheme of things, you can view Frost’s clutter rating scale here.
Good luck and let me know how it’s going – whatever your number.
What I tossed today: A circus worthy assortment of stuff from Squirrel’s garage which was so random that it will undoubtedly be the subject of my next post!