Are you a hoarder or a clutterbug?

If you’re feeling unhappy that your house is always a mess, first recognise if you are a hoarder or a clutterbug. And let us help you move on from there.

Hoarding disorder is a serious mental health condition which should be dealt with sensitively and compassionately; a hoarder is someone who collects huge amounts of stuff, often of seemingly little value to others – magazines, ketchup sachets etc. The hoarder may find it extremely painful letting go of things. Although not all APDO members work with hoarders, some certainly do and have the specialist expertise and experience required to help clients on a long term basis if necessary.

A clutterbug is someone who collects a lots of things that, unlike for the hoarder, have value or personal meaning. Displays of holiday souvenirs or model trains bring pleasure and pride, not the shame or sadness that may come with hoarding. Clutter is largely in the eyes of the beholder.

People with problem-level clutter may have trouble keeping their home tidy even after they get help with cleaning or organizing. The mess returns.

You could simply get us in and say, ‘Declutter my house.’ But first of all recognise how you are becoming a clutterbug.

Ask yourself:

  • Do I buy many of the same things over time, because I can’t find what you already have?
  • Does my stuff prevent me from having people over or having enough money?
  • Am I late paying bills because I can’t find my bills?
  • Do I have trouble getting dinner ready on time?
  • Does anybody complain about my stuff? Does it cause family fights?
  • Are there narrow ‘goat trails’ in my house to walk through between tall mounds of stuff?
  • Do I ever feel I’m out of control or feel bad looking at my piles of clutter?

If you‘re answering ‘Yes’ to any of these questions your clutter might be a problem for you or others. ‘Declutter my house’ won’t be the complete solution.

APDO members work with you, beyond you asking simply, ‘Declutter my house’. You can do things yourself to keep clutter in check in the long term.

Reflect on what you do. When you observe exactly how your clutter snowballs, you can get a better idea of how to stop it. For example, could you make a habit of immediately binning junk mail in your recycle bin?

Be truthful to yourself. People often say, ‘I cleaned my desk, but it all came back.’ This language distances you from the real issue of what’s going on in that space. ‘It’ isn’t the problem – your habits are.

Set yourself concrete limits. Promising yourself, ‘I’ll buy less’ is too vague. Better to say, ‘I’ll spend 15 minutes before I go to bed addressing the messy kitchen”

Accept neatness as a lifelong journey that will require a constant degree of attentiveness and maintenance.

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