Karen’s Tips For Families
(Karen is the wife of a man who compulsively hoards)
- Only take action openly to avoid mistrust.
- Explain clearly beforehand what you plan to do, and why.
- Take the lead from the sufferer, and capitalise on any opportunity to make progress.
- Persevere, set reasonable targets, and acknowledge progress. Ask the sufferer to help you because you have a problem.
- Find out about local services and sources of support. Use your own coping strategies.
- Keep mentally and physically fit. Set good examples yourself. Challenge the problem, not the person.
- Avoid the emotional roundabout, blackmail, excuses and procrastination.
- Discuss it on neutral ground, possibly with someone independent present.
- If you cannot express yourself face to face, write a letter.
- Take responsibility, and encourage the sufferer to do so.
(Chris defines himself as a person having difficulty disposing of items):
- Make a record
- I use the unit ‘boxful‘. This is defined as an actual box or the equivalent amount of clutter. This is my ‘score sheet‘ and helps me to keep track of my progress.
- I counted 57 in my hall, 115 in my kitchen, etc. A total of 480 ‘boxfuls‘.
- Most stuff was inside actual boxes, some dating from the 1960’s.
On a day when you are feeling up to it, have a decluttering session as follows:
- Clear the top of a table
- This may well be difficult in itself. But it is your essential first task.
- Arrange three receptacles. Recyclables, landfill, good stuff (maybe others according to your circumstances).
- Tell yourself “I am going to work“
- Carry one boxful to the table.
- Just carry it.
- Then do the sorting where it is comfortable.
- It’s a big task, you have to take it seriously, but also do it in a way that works for you so you’ll carry on and not quit.
- Sit down in your “office“.
- Pick out one item, decide and place appropriately. Immediately pick out next item, etc.
- Sometimes I “cheat“. If I can’t decide about an item fairly quickly, I put in an “undecided” pile and move onto the next.
- Remember the object is to get through the volume.
- If I feel guilty about the cheating then I cope with an equivalent volume that doesn’t get scored for.
- When you have done a boxful, mark it on your score sheet.
- That in itself makes you feel good.
- If you feel that you are “on a roll” then keep going.
- When you reckon that your shift is over, clear it all, and empty all receptacles.
- You must do this, otherwise the table is left cluttered. (Help! You’re going backwards).
- Have a cup of tea and enjoy the space that you have created!
I have made some progress and my home now only contains 400 (Chris updated this to 390 in recent correspondence!) and three boxfuls of clutter! Even this much has been well worthwhile.
There is more space to enjoy living in. There’s even somewhere for visitors to sit down. As I sort through the old stuff, most of it gets disposed of. But now and then I come across something I am really glad to find.
It’s worth doing for so many reasons… look at it financially. Work out the cost per square foot of your home. On a good day you could increase the value of the usable space by a thousand pounds.
Alongside this decluttering, keep an eagle eye on not allowing new clutter to encroach your carefully cleared areas. They are your areas now! Keep out the invading clutter.
Don’t ever use the word “throw away“. That’s what irresponsible people do. You are not doing any “throwing away”: That’s a negative action. Think positive. You are putting this item where it should be – the recycling bin or the landfill bin, or if you really want to keep it, then on the right shelf.
We are creating space by doing so!
We are able to write letters, make calls and work to bring professionals and people who
deal with hoarding behaviours to find a way forward. Please get in touch by letter, phone or email.
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London EC1V 7ET
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