Are you an organized hoarder? You might think that you’re in control of your possessions, but maybe you’ve got a niggling suspicion that you have a little too much stuff?
In this post, we’ll discuss some signs that indicate you could have a problem with organized hoarding. Afterward, I’ll give you some suggestions for what you can do about all of that organized clutter.
Just looking for decluttering ideas? Check out my collection of declutter tips to get help.
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What Is Organized Hoarding?
We’ve all seen the TV shows about hoarders… people who compulsively collect items and then can’t bring themselves to get rid of anything, resulting in a home that’s crammed full of stuff from floor to ceiling.
But what about people who consider themselves organized? Surely they can’t be hoarders…right? Unfortunately, it IS possible to be an organized hoarder.
Organized hoarding is when a person believes they are being organized because they have their possessions neatly arranged and categorized. However, the sheer amount of ‘organized’ stuff taking up space can easily lead to a cluttered living environment.
At first glance, an organized hoarder may seem like they have their life in order. Their homes are clean and they can quickly locate their possessions.
However, the reality is that they have far too many things. And they probably feel guilty getting rid of ANY of them.
Organized hoarding is not just excessive hoarding — it’s hoarding with an appearance of organization and control. This false sense of control can often prevent individuals from seeking help and parting with their possessions.
It’s important to recognize the difference between being organized and being an organized hoarder, as it can lead to physical health issues, financial troubles, and relationship struggles — the same issues as ‘regular’ hoarding.
How To Tell If You’re An Organized Hoarder
You’ve done all the right organizing things. Purchased all the pretty containers. Done all the matchy-matchy organizing. Set up storage systems for every area you can think of.
Every day, you gaze upon cabinets, closets, and shelves full of carefully-labeled bins. There’s nothing ugly in sight because it’s all stored in the perfect container.
Not a square inch of your home is empty, it’s all perfectly fitted with organizational products. Yet… it doesn’t feel right.
Yes, it’s visually cohesive, which is calmer than a jumble of clutter… But something still isn’t working.
It almost feels… crowded. But that’s impossible! ‘Crowded’ is awfully close to ‘cluttered’ — and there is no possible way your home could be cluttered! It’s organized!
Well, I’ve got some bad news for you…
A gazillion pretty storage containers full of stuff you don’t use or need are just as much clutter as the home that hasn’t been organized at all.
In fact, it’s entirely possible you could be an organized hoarder. (*cue gasps and instant denials)
When people come over, do you proudly show them your walls of perfect shelves and storage bins? Do their eyes bug out, yet they’re speechless?
Here’s a little secret… they’re not actually impressed. They may squeak out words like, ‘You’re so organized!’ But they’re really thinking, ‘Holy crap, that’s a lot of STUFF.’
And therein lies the problem, because STUFF = CLUTTER.
We all have things that we hang onto that we don’t necessarily need. But for some of us, those things can start to pile up and take over our homes… no matter how neatly we store them.
Here are some signs that you may be an organized hoarder:
1. You have more than one of EVERYTHING
Do you have multiple planners even though you only use one? Do you have several sets of dishes even though you only ever use one set? Do you really need 50 pairs of shoes, 15 coffee mugs, and 10 sets of sheets?
If you find yourself with multiple duplicates of items, it may be because you’re an organized hoarder. You probably tell yourself you need all of these extras ‘in case something happens to the first one.’
If you have more possessions than you can use in any reasonable amount of time, then chances are you’re an organized hoarder.
2. You’re running out of storage and living space
A sure sign of an organized hoarder is a home that’s too full, even if you keep spaces clean and your ‘stuff’ in storage containers.
Just because everything has a place doesn’t mean that your home isn’t cluttered.
To the hoarder, everything has its place. However, if your home is so full of stuff that you can barely move around, it’s time to let some things go.
3. You have trouble letting go of things
Do you have bins full of neatly labeled clothes that you haven’t worn in years ‘just in case?’ Do you keep old items that are no longer useful because you think you might find a use for them ‘someday?’
If you can’t even remember what’s in your storage bins, or if you feel anxious about sorting through your bins to let go of even a few things, you may be an organized hoarder.
The truth is, we rarely ever go back and use the things we hang onto. Storing them in nice bins doesn’t change that.
4. Your home feels like a storage unit
If your home looks or feels more like a storage unit than a place to live, you’re probably an organized hoarder. Stacks of bins or boxes in every square inch of space are absolutely a sign of hoarding.
When your home is filled with things that you don’t use on a regular basis, it can start to feel like a burden. If this is the case, it may be time to declutter your space.
5. You spend more time looking for things than you’d like to admit
If you spend too much time looking for whatever ‘thing’ you need, then it’s possible you’re an organized hoarder. How many bins did you have to shuffle around or unstack to find the greeting cards (or ‘whatever’) you so precisely labeled and stored?
A home that’s filled with too much stuff is not a well-organized home. Constantly searching for things or dismantling and re-stacking your storage solutions can be downright frustrating.
Having less stuff means everything you need is easy to find and access… doesn’t that sound great?!
6. Your friends and family are concerned
If your friends and family voice concerns about the amount of stuff you have, then chances are you have a problem with hoarding. Often, people who care about us can see our problems more clearly than we can see them ourselves.
Although it may be difficult to hear their statements, try to listen to what they’re saying. While you will have to make your own decisions about your stuff, they may have good advice on how to declutter your life.
Organized hoarders are often very good at hiding their clutter. If any of these signs felt familiar, it might be time to declutter your home.
What To Do If You Have A Problem With Organized Hoarding
Okay, so you’ve realized there may be a slight issue with the amount of stuff in your home. It’s time to declutter your space and get rid of some of the things you don’t need.
But… how do you do that?
The first step is admitting that you have a problem! Once you’ve done that, it’s time to start decluttering your organized hoarder house.
This is a huge mind shift, but try to relax and focus on getting rid of the things that you don’t need instead of trying to find the perfect new organizing solution to keep even more stuff.
This task will be much easier if you enlist the help of a friend or family member who can act as your sounding board or accountability partner without telling you what to do.
Here are some tips for decluttering your organized hoard:
Start small: Don’t try to declutter your entire house all at once. Start with one drawer, one bin, one closet, or one room. Keep a tight focus to avoid thought overwhelm.
Limit your decluttering sessions: Try decluttering 10 minutes or 10 items a day. I call this slow decluttering, and it really works for clearing clutter in a stress-free way.
Be honest with yourself: Ask yourself if you REALLY need each item. Start with the less-meaningful objects, and it will be easier to get yourself into a decluttering mindset.
Donate, donate, donate: If an item is still usable but you no longer ACTUALLY need it, donate it to a local thrift store, charity organization, school, etc. And it’s even okay to donate the bins that hold the stuff!
Appreciate open spaces: You will have to actively work on this as you let more and more items go.
Dealing With Open Spaces
As you clear your home, you might be surprised by how unsettled you feel about seeing open spaces.
We often fall back into old clutter-collecting habits because we’re not used to seeing blank floor space or wall space. For this reason, it’s absolutely vital to recognize the importance of open spaces and practice living with them.
Understand that it’s OKAY to have empty spaces in your home. Not every inch needs to have an ‘organizing solution.’
While your first instinct will be a desire to fill that empty space, my advice is to NOT do that for at least a couple of months. Your brain needs time to get used to the different scenery in your home.
Once you’ve become more comfortable with the open spaces, you may find that you actually enjoy how easy they are to keep clean and how restful they are for your mind.
Excuses People Make About Organized Clutter
1. ‘My space is really small. All of this stuff wouldn’t look like much if I lived in a larger home.’
Okay, I’ll grant you that… you would have MORE open spaces in a larger home. But you still need open space, no matter what size your home is now.
2. ‘I’m a collector.’
No. You’re not. You just have a bunch of stuff.
3. ‘It would cost a lot of money to replace those things.’
Here’s the thing… it’s costing you a lot to KEEP those things. Money for bins and the physical space they occupy, plus the mental load of having to organize and keep track of them.
Plus — and here’s the kicker — it’s kinda likely you’re going to buy new whatever ‘those things’ are instead of using what you’ve stored away. (Been there, done that, speaking from experience.)
More Decluttering Inspiration
Concluding Thoughts On Organized Hoarding
If you think you might be an organized hoarder, there is hope!
By being honest with yourself about your problem and taking steps to declutter your life, you can get control over your belongings and live a simpler, happier life.
You may find it necessary to reach out for professional counseling help, and that could be a very good thing.
Trust me, once you start the process, your home and your mind will thank you for it!
You’ve got this!
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