Let’s rephrase this question – Are you an organized hoarder like me? Yes, I love de-cluttering and I am inching towards minimalism every single day! Cleaning and organizing my house is not just a chore but a way of expressing myself. But, amidst all these, I have a tendency to hoard. It takes an effort on my part to identify the areas where I hoard and I consciously work on de-cluttering those areas. I love collecting (hoarding) books, big and small purses/wallets, pouches, small (cute) bottles, and carry bags (in different shapes and sizes). But you won’t see them lying around my house as I take special care to either beautifully display them or neatly wrap them and keep them safe in big storage boxes. Now simply because I so carefully organize these items doesn’t make them anything else than just a clutter. It is just an organized clutter.
This blog is in continuation to my earlier blog – Saving for that Special Day. In my previous blog, I talked about our tendency to save things because they are expensive or have emotional value attached to them. In this blog, I am talking about our tendency to keep piling up random things.
The plus side of being an organized hoarder is that your clutter is not visible. It doesn’t make your house look untidy or full as it would be hidden in one of farthest and darkest corners of your closets. The other side of being an organized hoarder is that it takes lots of energy on your part to keep this clutter safe year after year. It comes out during one of those deep-cleaning drills and then goes back in its place.
What is Organized Hoarding
Organized hoarding is the term I have coined to explain the tendency of some people to save and neatly organize their clutter. This clutter could be anything which is piling up in your house while serving no purpose like plastic bags, old clothes, kitchen crockery, books, music collection, etc.
Organized hoarding is different from collecting coins, stamps, rare gems, or toy figures or other types of collectibles. People who collect a certain item as a hobby, concentrate on just that item. But people who have the habit of hoarding, they collect everything. Saving and preserving the things comes naturally to most of us for three main reasons – 1. We may require them in future; 2. They are so beautiful/cute; 3. Why should I throw them?
How to Identify Organized Clutter in your House
Organized clutter will not be in front of you. It would either be under your sofa storage, bed storage, upper lofts, or in the deep corners of your closets. Here is a common list of organized clutter in most of the houses:
- Boxes and Plastic Bags – I am talking about those beautiful empty boxes in which your jewelry or watches came. Or the packaging boxes which are too good to be thrown away. Fifty plastic bags inside a large plastic bag. Need I say more.
- Toiletries – We all pick those small and cute cream and shampoo bottles from various hotels or spas during our travels. They all end up in a box in our bathroom never to be used.
- Clothes/Linen – There will always be a bunch of neatly folded or packed clothes, blazers on hangers that you have not worn till now. If you are like me, you will also have a collection of old and new bedsheets and covers, some of which never come out.
- Imitation Chunky Jewelry – This is one box which keeps filling up year after year and if you are not in college anymore, chances are that this box opens up only three or four times a year.
- Bags, purses, clutches – Unless you are maintaining a collection of Hermes Birkin or Bottega, you should count the number of bags or clutches you have accumulated over the years and how many of them you have not used in years.
- Shoes – Are there any shoes that are still in their boxes or shoes that you bought five years ago and still have not worn them. You may want to save your Prada’s or Gucci’s lifelong but if you have saved a pair of five inches heels which you will no longer wear as they are too uncomfortable, then they should be out of your shoe rack.
- Cutlery and kitchen Tools – Hordes of cutlery that is waiting for that one big party. Also, the kitchen tools that you keep buying but forget to discard the similar old tool, let’s count how many potato peelers, lemon squeezers, mashers, whisks, choppers you have in your kitchen.
- Electronics – Old phones that do not work anymore, old or extra phone chargers, cords, batteries (old and new mixed), and other electronic items (old or broken phones, cameras, Walkman, CD or DVD players, CD/DVD collection) which are neatly packed in a shoe box.
How I Deal with my Hoarding Habit?
The list given above was very easy to make as I just had to look around my own house to get the idea. Although, I have acquired a habit of regular de-cluttering and want to live with minimal, I do end up hoarding. Some clutter like old clothes, toys, crockery and storage boxes, or old display items that no longer excite me go out of my house as a part of the weekly de-cluttering exercise. But the big clutter (mentioned above) somehow remains as it remains packed and safe somewhere.
Here’s how I am dealing with my organized clutter:
- My first step is to identify the clutter areas around the house. Once it is done, I am ready for my de-hoarding/de-cluttering steps. I target to remove at least 80% of the clutter during each drill.
- I pick one area and assign a day when I will go through the clutter.
- On the assigned day, I take out all the material from the clutter zone and keep them on the bed or other big surface.
- I then arrange three boxes or large bags and label them as –
- “Why is it here?” Or “I will never wear/use it” – Items dropped in this box are to be disposed-off immediately.
- “I will wear/use it tonight or this week” – Items dropped in this box will be kept for a week. If I still don’t use them, they will be disposed off.
- “I want to keep it forever” – Items dropped in this box will stay for the time being.
- By the end of these steps, only 10-20 % of the clutter will remain which is of either high emotional value or too beautiful to be parted away with.
Repeat this exercise every six months. You will be surprised to see that the items you kept in the “I want to keep it forever” box may end up in the “Why is it here?” box in the next round of de-cluttering.
A Tip to End With…
If you are ever in dilemma about disposing of an item because it is too beautiful or cute, ask yourself these questions:
- Have I checked the internet if there are more beautiful versions of this item available?
- When I look at this item, does it make me happy?
- In past two years, how many times have I used this item?
- I will keep the item out for a month in front of my eyes and observe if it is really that unique as it looks in a closet?