3 Questions To Help You Stop Hoarding

I have a confession. I come from a long line of hoarders. My father and my grandfather before him could not throw anything away. I also sufffer from this disease. Recently I threw away fifteen 30 gallon bags of paper going back over 10 years. There is still more that I need to scan into Evernote and throw away. It was not just paper either. I went through piles of stuff, my books and even am looking at computer files. This is a difficult task for me. I keep telling myself, “If you get rid of this, even if you haven’t needed it in five years, you will need it next week,” or “You will never find another one of these,” or “You are going to need this at some point!” If you tend towards hoarding, you know my dilemma. I am not done with going through everything, but I am becoming a person who does not hoard, a person who regularly gets rid of the extra and unnecessary. As a result,

  • I have a new sense freedom. You just feel better when you do not have a pile of stuff.
  • I am cleaner. This is nice for me and for those around me. It also leads to the next result.
  • I am more productive. Because I do not have to think about ever processing that stuff, I can focus on what I need to focus on.
  • I have more energy. It is hard to explain, but having a clean environment gives energy. I get a similar feeling after I have cut AND edged my lawn.
  • I can better find things when I need them. You know, there is no point in having something if you cannot find it. You might say, “Oh, I know where everything is!” Really?

Okay, enough talking. How do you actually start getting rid of your stuff? Well, you need to be able to set aside some time and have a filtering process. Here are the three questions that help me determine whether or not to keep something.

  1. Have you used it in the last year?
  2. Are you going to use it in the next year?
  3. Is it cost prohibitive to buy another one?

If the answer to all of these is “no,” then I toss it, give it away or sell it. It really is that simple. You do not need that paper from your freshmen English class. Those resources from two jobs ago does not need to take up your precious space (physical or mental). If you have already read a book, why not give it to a friend or to a thrift store to make more room for the new books that you are collecting? I hope you find this helpful. Let me know how it goes. Please share in the comments section any tips you have for the struggling hoarder?

Add yours ↓
  1. Bro Ken

    OK, Brother Adam, I too am a hoarder/collector of items which will be useful “someday”. In fact, I just copied and filed your article and for good measure…I also printed the article “3 Questions to Help You…” for “later reference”. I’m sure it’s great material and will be useful.
    I do have one question…You didn’t reference the huge stack of birthday, Valentine, get well, congratulatory, Christmas (other holidays too), thinking of you, thank you and of course the sympathy cards we’ve all received over the years. There must have been a reason we saved those. Isn’t emotion a henderence to filling another half dozen trash bags.
    I thought that enlisting a trusted friend to, without any judgement on their part, discard the entire back log of stuff.
    You can go ahead and hard copy this email if you want.
    Good to hear from you even in your present “weakened” emotions.
    IHS, BroKen

    April 17, 2014
    • adamsuter

      Hi Brother Ken! Yes it is difficult isn’t it. Me too. As far as cards, I haven’t thrown mine out yet. My plan is to scan them into Evernote. Then I will throw them out. That saves space and allows me to access them anytime I want to on my computer, phone, etc. Good luck to you in your hoarding. 😉

      April 23, 2014