Hoarding is a problem that the best of us battle from time to time – we attribute so much value to stuff. But in an everchanging and increasingly digital world, there’s no need to accumulate so many things. Getting rid of that stuff once we own it, though, is difficult. Once it’s been bought there are two separate attachments to contend with: one, the emotional attachment and two, the money you know you spent on it.
I’ve perfected a three stage method for clearing out things
Stage 1 – Get Rid of the Rubbish
This is the easy stage, and should filter out a decent amount of stuff. Get rid of all the stuff that’s just rubbish – the DVDs you bought because you thought they’d be good, but you realised after watching that they were terrible, the CD you were given by a relative, who had no idea what your music taste was, the stuff that you can’t really understand why you’ve kept. There should be no emotional attachment to this stuff, no going back and forth – it’s just rubbish, and you don’t need it. Put it in the charity shop bag, or the bin.
Stage 2 – Sort Into Two Piles
This is where you start getting into the things you like, or feel some attachment to. It’s harder than the first stage, which is why you break down your things into two piles. The first pile is stuff you definitely need to keep – the things you can’t do without. The next pile is the stuff that you aren’t sure about – it’s not as important to you as the stuff on the first pile, but you still feel the pinch of need to hold on to it when you try to throw it out. For example, I had a huge DVD collection for a while – so big that it didn’t fit on my DVD shelf comfortably any more. There were plenty of DVDs that I didn’t want to just chuck out. They were good films, or films I’d really enjoyed but hadn’t seen for ages. I put these on the ‘not sure’ pile, and then started working my way through them. Once I’d watched them, I made a decision about keeping them or not. Often, watching them one more time was enough.
Stage 3 – Repeat
This is the key thing. You need to repeat the stages regularly. Over time, it’s impressive what becomes less important to you. Suddenly those ‘must keep’ DVDs start to look more like they belong on the ‘maybe’ pile. And if the DVDs have been on the ‘maybe’ pile for two or three rounds of pruning, and I still don’t feel like watching them, then they can just go.
Clearing out the clutter little and often is the most pain free way of doing at it, and I find it’s addictive. Once I’ve started, I want to do every single room. The more you do, the easier it is to make a judgement about what you need, and what you really value. Before long, you’ll have your house reduced down to minimal simplicity.