It’s estimated that up to 600,000 Australians live with hoarding disorder, a psychiatric condition that leads to excessive collecting and the inability to throw away worthless things.
A far more common ailment many people suffer from is the feeling of being surrounded by “stuff”. You know that clutter – a pile of unloved sports equipment in the garage, clothes you no longer fit into stuffed at the back of the wardrobe, a mountain of toys the kids have grown out of stored out of sight. This is the stuff hoards of people can relate to, but never deal with because “life is too busy”, or “shopping makes me feel good”, or “I might use that gut buster again one day.” Rule of thumb, if you haven’t use it in the past year (or since 1986 in the case of aforementioned tummy trimmer), get rid of it. There are several options for how to do this:
- Trash: Throw it straight into the bin, or for larger items take it to your local transfer station.
- Recycle: If it’s made from recyclable materials, toss it in the recycling bin.
- Sell: If you have stuff that’s in good nick and you could recoup some of the money you spent buying it, why not sell it? There are many ways to approach this, from notice boards at the local shops, to online Buy Swap Sell sites.
- Donate: Sometimes the effort it takes to sell stuff falls into the too-hard basket – life’s to-do list is too long already. In that case you may consider donating those baby clothes to a women’s refuge, or unread books to the local youth hostel.
To avoid new clutter replacing the old, make sure you only keep items that you love or you need on a regular or season basis (such as Christmas decorations). If things are sentimental, perhaps a photo of those school trophies and digital version of your 1980s music collection will keep the memory alive. Buy things with conscious intent that they will be beneficial, not just because there was a 3-for-1 sale. The best place to start is by not looking at the big picture, which’ll inevitably be overwhelming. Tackle your clutter room by room, perhaps even one weekend at a time.
Another popular approach is to start on the first of the month, getting rid of one thing on the first, two things on the second, three on the third, and so on. Do this for as much or the month as you can muster, and don’t buy anything during that time – it’ll help reduce the temptation to buy and break any habitual tendancies.