If you have typed “I am a hoarder” into Google, please know that I understand what a huge step that is. It is one thing to acknowledge that you are overwhelmed with belongings, but quite another to see that you must engage with a process that is going to be a challenge. Please know you are in good hands. 

Where do you start?

You have already made the most vital step, you are here looking for advice, so do give yourself a pat on the back.

Next, take a deep breathe and try and stay calm as you are to stay in control of each step. If you are progressing making sure you are safe and well, then you can dictate the pace and way that happens. Here are some positives that will help:

  1. Tackling your belongings does not have to be framed as a dramatic cull that will have your emotions running riot. Say to yourself ‘I am just going to have a good look round to see what I have’ and conduct a sort of audit. By starting to be curious what is in the cupboards and taking stock, we can start to make small changes, little reductions that will help flex those decision-making muscles and you can see it is not too bad.
  2. Have a nice aim in mind to the project, such as reclaiming a space for a hobby, bringing out some items to give to a friend, or finding a lost item. This aim will keep you focused when you feel like you do not want to make a start.
  3. Set a timer such as 30 minutes maximum, and use that to spend 5 minutes bringing things out of the small space you are starting with, 10 minutes to look and decide, 5 minutes to put everything back in an efficient way, and 5 minutes to put the items to go in recycling/charity bag by the door/bin etc. 5 minutes to make a cup of tea and congratulate yourself. Repeat the next day.
  4. Let someone know what you are trying to do so you have some accountability, encouragement and perhaps it is linked to point 2 with having something to look forward to. Often in homes the catalyst is having guests over for coffee and their home is not ready for that. But say to your friend lets have coffee at mine but to encourage you to make it ready for them in a month or two. 
  5. Get some help in. If you have been stockpiling and this is an emotional task, then its wise to have someone you trust and can count on to be on your side, but you are also accountable to. This may be a friend or family member, or you may wish to contact your local APDO member (Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers UK). If you commission a service registered with APDO, you know that person is properly insured, and there is formal governance process and accountability for the standards of service delivered.
    Be sure to select the closest organiser who has “hoarding” as a specialism. Visit their website, check out their social media and read independent reviews. Many will offer a free/no obligation consultation to ensure you feel they are a good match. We at Change Your Space, for example, have over 10 years’ experience and 50+ independent positive reviews of our service. 
  6. Keep going. If you have been building up items over many years, it will take some time to make it manageable. But like all difficult tasks that have great results for us, such as exercise, dieting, making friends, starting a new hobby, there are times we do not feel like doing it. Though its OK to have a rest, recognise when you need to push through and keep to the routine anyway, even on those low days. We understand that our clients have days and areas where it is easier for them to sort, and some where it is like wading through treacle. We understand the highs and lows. It is OK as even if its slower, the aim is a direction of travel focused on the earlier points.
  7. You may need some counselling or therapy alongside the sorting. Only you will know if this is required. But we understand that sometimes clients are surprised themselves by what addressing key belongings triggers for them. Be kind to yourself as this is a journey and each step you are not alone if you invite people to walk with you.

We cover 25 miles of Exmouth, and you are welcome to arrange a a free, no obligation consultation call.  You may also find my book (Being Owned: A Decade in Professional Decluttering) a real encouragement as it shows 8 client stories with their struggles with hoarding and chronic disorganisation. You will find it positive, without judgement, and person-focused. Plus some people found some amazing items in their sorting process, so that alone is encouraging.