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Quick Tips to Control Clutter and Stop Hoarding

Control Clutter and Break the Hoarding Habit

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Quick Tips to Control Clutter and Stop Hoarding

This picture from Domino magazine features an organized bedroom.

Photo / Domino Magazine Quick Tips to Control Clutter and Stop Hoarding

Hoarding all magazines! Who is really going to go back and look through these?

Photo / Domino Magazine Quick Tips to Control Clutter and Stop Hoarding

This magazine fan needs to clear the clutter; many are still in plastic mailing wrap--they haven't even read them yet, and they're already piling up!

Photo from the Flickr Magazine Piles Group by "Lah_Rah."

Are you hoarding something in your home? Did you know some people are born hoarders? They're not lazy or stubbornly attached to their possessions; they may actually be genetically pre-disposed to live the life of a pack rat. In "Field Guide to Pack Rats: Closet Cases" psychologist Randy Frost of Smith College illuminates some of the psychology behind hoarding and offers some excellent tips for conquering your pack rat tendencies.

Here are five tips to stop hoarding:

  1. Start slow.

    Don't go through your home and throw everything into the dumpster at once. This may lead to strong feelings of regret and anxiety; rather, go through one small space or collection each week. Learn more about this in How to Start Small.
  2. Handle objects only once.

    Curb the tendency to put something aside "for now." Fans of David Allen's "Getting Things Done" system have been applying this trick to their email for years. Take the time to make a decision about an item in the present so you don't have to handle it again and again each time you decide to get organized.
  3. Scale down collections.

    If you've kept all of your childhood report cards, choose to save 1-2 and toss the rest. A great tip I picked up from a reader of this site: try framing or displaying one item from a collection so it's special, and then consign, donate, or recycle the rest.
  4. Put it in a box.

    If you cannot decide to toss or keep an item, put it in a box for 6 months. If you don't open the box before then, you can let it go without regret. This is a great idea for people who hoard items like magazines, travel toiletries and newspaper clippings.
  5. Toss un-used items.

    Owning a book about gardening does not make you a person who gardens and buying "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" and never cracking the book or trying one of the recipes doesn't mean you're a cook. Resist the urge to buy tokens of a new hobby until you are actively participating in that hobby. Read more about aspirational clutter.
  6. Consider consignment.

    It's much easier to get rid of an item if you know it's going to a good home. If donating isn't a good option for you, think seriously about consignment. This way you're getting some money back for the item. Read more about to consign items.

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