If you’ve seen the latest hoarding shows, TLC’s “Hoarding: Buried Alive,” A&E’s “Hoarders” or Animal Planet’s “Confessions: Animal Hoarding,” you realize that hoarding is a real problem. It is tragic, not only for the people who hoard but for their families as well.
These TV shows provide evidence that the problem exists all over, including in our own community. The sad news is that personal tragedy makes for good TV. The good news is that these shows have helped educate the public on the serious nature of hoarding. And the best news is that most people who think they are hoarders, in fact, are not. They may be pack rats, but they are not hoarders. Hoarding is an illness that needs appropriate treatment. In my opinion, pack rats struggle with having too many possessions, but their problem does not emanate from a psychological base. They can make decisions to get rid of things, although not easily.
No matter what you may call yourself, most people want to be able to find their stuff easily and quickly. This desire requires organization. How a home or living space is organized is a personal decision. Some individuals do well with stacks and can find anything at any point, provided the stacks do not get moved or get out of control. Other individuals who maintain their possessions well prefer everything to have a place, possibly out of sight. No matter how the organizing is done, the priority is to get things in a place were they can be found.
If the process of organizing is overwhelming, break it down into pieces. First, ask yourself what causes the disorganization. Over the past four years, I have kept an informal list of reasons why people are unorganized and ranked them according to frequency. The results are that most people:
• Live with other people who are unorganized and don’t care
• Attach emotionally to possessions; pack rat
• Lack time; don’t prioritize
• Feel overwhelmed by the amount of work that needs to be done
There’s no one solution to solving these issues because different personalities are involved. The objective is to develop good routines and habits that lead to an organized lifestyle. For the average person, most disorganization is a result of bad habits, therefore a slight change in habit could have significant results. For example, one of our clients had a place for all the family household items, but neglected to tell the family members. Once the family started using labels, everyone was willing to help.
Look at organizing as a release. With so many things in life that can’t be controlled, keeping possessions organized is a way to feel in control. Get motivated to move from thought to action. If that just never seems to happen, ask for help.