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Archive for the ‘Hoarding’ Category

It’s Never Too Late to Conquer Chronic Disorganization

Friday, August 18, 2017 @ 05:08 AM
posted by admin

It's Never Too Late to Conquer Chronic Disorganization |

Recently I was interviewed by Professional Organizer Rachel Seavey, owner of Collector Care Professional Organizers located in the San Francisco bay area.

We talked about the topic of hoarding migration and why it is never too late to conquer your chronic disorganization.

Listen to the entire interview here.

The latest edition of my book ADD Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life is now available.

Co-authored with Dr. Kathleen Nadeau, ADD Friendly offers organizing solutions that provide long-lasting, life changing organizing success for adults with ADD.

This updated collaboration offers the best understanding and solutions for adults who want to get and stay organized. Readers will enjoy all new content on organizing digital information, managing distractions, organizing finances, and coping with the “black hole” of the Internet. This exciting new resource offers three levels of strategies and support: self-help, non-professional assistance from family and friends, and professional support; allowing the reader to determine the appropriate level of support.

It's Never Too Late to Conquer Chronic Disorganization |

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Purge and Output

Friday, January 13, 2012 @ 06:01 AM
posted by admin


A society marked by inundation requires a new time management, one that puts more of an emphasis on purging and output than the old time management does. We regularly have to carve out time to clear up backlog and inundation whether it’s our hard drive groaning with content, flash drives of mysterious content floating around the desk, or scores of bookmarks and RSS feeds. Purging has to move into the mainstream of our schedules and not left “for a rainy day” or “when we find down time.” Those days are gone and not coming back.

Here are three ways to purge:

  • Scour your Favorite (bookmarked websites) and RSS feeds monthly. What else do you do monthly? Review your investment statements? Visit your Mom? Tie your scouring habits to something you already do monthly.
  • Download thematic, archival content to flash drives and label the flash drives. Get stuff off of your hard drive that has a theme and is inactive. Examples might be an old job search, or the research material for a report you finalized. Another option is to send this stuff to the cloud using Dropbox or another cloud alternative.

Purging takes time up-front. The return on this organizing investment is great. It saves time finding information, saves time coordinating files together, and saves time releasing space on your computer. It also saves time that would otherwise be wasted worrying about what is where. Never underestimate how much wasted energy and time is devoted to worry.  

Output activities means actualizing all that information you have gathered. Make it come alive. Use it.  Output activities include:

  • Print your favorite photos. You are allowed to have favorites!
  • Plan time to view videos and movies
  • Move your music files to where you’ll actually listen to them

Couple your purging habits with output activities, and you’ll be able to turn ‘overwhelm’ into plain old ‘whelmed.’

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011 @ 12:11 PM
posted by admin

Saving things is a part of the human experience. We are a species that collects, enjoys, and loves objects for sentimental reasons and sometimes for no reason at all. Some people who collect all kinds of electronics, gizmos and gadgets have what psychologist Dr. Randy Frost calls ‘object-sensuality’ in his book Stuff . Object-sensuality is the ability to experience objects sensually in rich detail – their precision, craftsmanship, and weight and size. According to Dr. Frost, this ability may indicate a special form of creativity and an appreciation of aesthetics,even the aesthetics of machines. “The very meaning of objects expands with the sensory experience of them”, notes Dr. Frost. Long ago I write about this kind of phenomena in my book Conquering Chronic Disorganization. Object sensuality and collecting is fine but a line can be crossed into a more negative form of technohoarding under the following circumstances:


  • The acquisition of and failure to discard useless, non-collectible and obsolete electronics clutters up living spaces and impedes normal activities such as cleaning, cooking and sleeping.
  • The impulse to purchase electronics is uncontrollable and results in debt or diversion of money from necessities.
  • A preoccupation with internet, computer, or electronics disrupts family relations, work obligations and sleep.

If you are someone who technohoards and you want to change, try this:

* Ask yourself what need is fulfilled by being amidst all the clutter. It could be the need for seclusion, control of your environment, or a need to feel protected and secure. Machines can do this for you. People, well, now that’s a little messier. Confront your needs and see if you can get them fulfilled more constructively.

* Make room for the future. Clutter keeps us stuck in the present and in the past.

* Think of yourself as someone who deserves to be picky, selective and more discerning about how you choose to spend your time, money, effort and space.

* Got technohoarding real bad? Contact the Institute for Challenging Disorganization, for a professional organizer specially trained in hoarding behaviors.

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Saturday, July 9, 2011 @ 07:07 AM
posted by admin

E- Hoarding is the practice of keeping digital information and documentation that is of little value or unknown value. The result of e-hoarding is extreme difficulty retrieving information, time wasted replacing information, frustrating disorganization, and anxiety or stress at the prospect of purging digital documentation. Why does e-hoarding occur? One contributing factor is inundation. In 2010, the typical corporate user sends and receives about 110 messages daily. Roughly 18% of emails received is spam, comprising both actual spam and “graymail” (i.e. unwanted newsletters, alerts, etc.) Inundation happens to all of us. The difference with e-hoarders is that they have weak or no criteria for selecting which information to save and which not to. In the absence of selection criteria, e-hoarders tend to save most of their digital stuff including emails, attachments, bookmarks, blogs, and RSS feeds. Also, when information is 24/7 it can all feel the same. It all seems important at once. Another contributing factor to e-hoarding is fear of being left behind or not keeping up.

A recent Harvard Education blog describes some websites as ‘information spigots ’that create not only a time-suck of information exploration, but also “…the sense of obligation that accompanies” that goes with it. “When given such reliable streams of information, it’s all too common to feel constantly behind; constantly in need of catching up. That sense of obligation, often, is misplaced.”

A final factor is time. Because e-hoarders are always in semi-overwhelm finding the time to actually read or review information as it arrives is difficult. In the absence of actively deciding whether to keep something or not, an e-hoarder will passively saves all the information.

If you have a tendency to e-hoard, here’s what to do:

* Schedule a purge hour into the mainstream of your schedule once per week

* Figure out your criteria for keeping stuff. ‘Concise’ and ‘unique’ are my favorites.

* Don’t keep stuff you already know. Go for new knowledge

* Hire a professional organizer to help you

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Living With “Pack Rats”

Sunday, May 1, 2011 @ 06:05 AM
posted by admin

You know what love is: that deep feeling of not being able to be without someone. A well-rounded life is filled with all kinds of love including life partners, family, friends, as well as work and avocations. Loving objects is also part of our love landscape. Cherished “stuff” makes us feel good. They can provide a feeling of abundance, security, companionship and many objects provoke loving memories and sentiments. That’s why when people call my clients ‘packrats’ I think they fall far short of the complexity of emotion people feel for their things. Audrey is a self-proclaimed packrat with a cluttered home and a self-storage unit for the overflow. “I kind of like the chaos of the clutter”, she confesses. It’s a little unsettled, a little apt to change. That appeals to me more than boring, staid organization. I enjoy acquiring stuff, moving things around, and trying to accommodate everything. It almost feels creative to me. Even the search for what I want is a bit of an adventure.” I prefer to get my kicks other ways, but people who have excess stuff are usually adults fully in charge of their environment.* When I would with “mixed marriage” where one spouse has a need for a lot of stuff and the other doesn’t, at some point in the organizing process, all three of us sit down. I may be organizing Audrey but disorganization is a family issue. “Audrey is pretty comfortable surrounded by excess stuff. How about you?” I ask Bart, Audrey’s husband. “Not so much. I don’t have same needs as Audrey does for so much stuff”, Bart contends. Like all marital issues, “stuff” is about understanding and respecting each other’s needs.


IN/OUT RATIO – Audrey agreed to donate 10 art and craft supplies for every new 10 she brings into the house. At that rate, as least things won’t expand. Establish and In/Out ration for other items that tend to expand in the house. A 1:1 ratio keeps things at bay. A 1:2 ration (a new item in = 2 old items out) will reduce clutter.

COMPROMISE – Audrey agreed to go to flea markets only once per month instead of twice (or more!) if Bart would go with her once per month. Bart agreed. He agreed not to pout. She agreed to keep her hands in her pockets.

A great book on this topic is When You Live With a Messie by Sandra Felton.

*How can you tell if the adult in your life is not “fully in charge of their environment?” Here are the signs:

  • Easy access to the tools for daily living are problematic. The most basic of these tools include clean cooking and serving items in the kitchen, clean towels and washclothes in the bathroom, chairs to sit on in the living room, a place to sit and eat in the kitchen, an uncluttered space for homework for the kids, and beds clear enough to sleep and have sex in.
  • If something is broken, mildew, moldy or otherwise unusable and it is easy to replace yet your “pack rat” can’t do it, that might be a moment to pause and figure out what is going on.
  • Debt or a whacked household budget caused by excessive buying is a signal that things might be out of control.

Digging Out is a great book for families contending with excessive savers who are rapidly crossing the line to hoarding. I consult with couples via Skype and phone so there’s that resource too.

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