Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom
I’m about half way through the book The Hoarder in You by Dr. Robin Zasio. Dr. Zasio is a psychologist who specializes in anxiety and compulsions with a sub-specialty in hoarding; she is a consultant on the TV program Hoarders.
Early in the book, there’s a box: Do You Have Hoarding Tendencies? Of course, I answered “no” before I read the checklist. In fact, according to Dr. Zasio, I do have some. Well that’s a disappointment. Here is her listÂ along with the paragraph that followsÂ and my answers in blue:
Do you have a hard time parting with items, even if you never use them or they’re broken? No.
Do you have many items around your house that don’t have a permanent home? No, but I did before I started decluttering.
- Do you tend to make pile of things, to be dealt with at a future time, and these piles often linger for more than a few days? Hey, has she been looking at my desk? The rest of the house is okay.
- Are there areas in your home (the dining room table, for instance) that must be cleared off before they can be sued for their intended purpose? Possibly yes, although generally those items are being actively used up until the time that the table needs to be cleaned.
- Do you save things often because you are concerned about how you will feel if you need them in the future and no longer have them? Rarely.
- Do you often save things without a clear idea of how you’ll use them in the future? Only art / craft type items.
- Do you still have items that you once bought with the intention of giving them away as gifts? Yes, from the generic kid gift box that no longer gets used. Blue Santa, here they come!
- Do you have boxes of possessions that have moved with you from home to home but you’ve never gone through? No.
- Do you often buy multiples of the same items because you’ve forgotten you have it? Only very rarely.
- Are you helpless when faced with a “good deal,” even if it’s a good deal on something you don’t need? No.
- Do you take free things, like shampoos from hotels or packets of soup crackers, that you never wind up using? Yes, I sometimes take them, but yes I use them too.
The more questions you answered yes to, the stronger your hoarding tendencies, and your environment is likely cluttered accordingly. If you answered yes to all of them, it does not mean you are a hoarder; many of us have hoarding tendencies, but because they are kept in check, things don’t escalate to the point where your life is greatly affected. Still, the more you have, the more mindful you need to be of your habits so your environment does not cause you undue stress.
I wonder, how many of these tendencies do you have, and what are you doing to keep them at bay?
Today’s Mini Mission
Declutter a canvas wall art piece that you donâ€™t love.
Today’s Declutter Item
These multi-purpose tools can be mighty hand but keeping one in my handbag or pocket can become complicated when trying to board and aircraft. As a result it was constantly left at home where there are plenty of other individual tools to use. Hence it didn’t get used much.
Eco Tip for the Day
Loath as I am to bring attention to sales catalogues I find it my duty to inform you that you can probably access them online rather than receive them in your mailbox. In Australia catalogues can be accessed atÂ www.lasoo.com.auÂ . So to my Aussie readers who haven’t yet put a NO JUNK MAIL sign on their mailbox bookmark this site and go yet yourself that sign. If any readers know a web site in their country for this purpose please fell free to share. Personally I would prefer just not to read catalogues at all.
I just finished a book called Clutter Busting by Brooks Palmer. I really enjoyed it. Thought you might want to read it too! He just seemed to have a fresh approach compared to others. Instead of finding more storage containers to “Organize” your clutter, he focuses more on getting rid of the clutter and then organize what you have left.
I haven’t read that one. Thanks for the recommendation.
Do you have a hard time parting with items, even if you never use them or theyâ€™re broken. – Sometimes, yes. I go through those in stages. Declutter one of a huge stack, go back a few months later and declutter one more that I haven’t repaired by then etc.
Do you have many items around your house that donâ€™t have a permanent home? – No, but I did before I started decluttering. 🙂
Do you tend to make pile of things, to be dealt with at a future time, and these piles often linger for more than a few days. – Yes. I use the same tactic as with the hard-to-declutter items, I go through those piles bit by bit: even though I rarely really clear one, I’ve diminished both number and size of them.
Are there areas in your home (the dining room table, for instance) that must be cleared off before they can be sued for their intended purpose? – Yes. All working surfaces in this house have a tendency to get cluttered.
Do you save things often because you are concerned about how you will fell if you need them in the future and no longer have them. – No.
Do you often save things without a clear idea of how youâ€™ll use them in the future? – No, except for multi-purpose craft items like paint, thread and fabric. (I have space restrictions for those though)
Do you still have items that you once bought with the intention of giving them away as gifts? No.
Do you have boxes of possessions that have moved with you from home to home but youâ€™ve never gone through? No.
Do you often buy multiples of the same items because youâ€™ve forgotten you have it? No.
Are you helpless when faced with a â€œgood deal,â€ even if itâ€™s a good deal on something you donâ€™t need? – Sometimes, but only if it’s something pretty.
Do you take free things, like shampoos from hotels or packets of soup crackers, that you never wind up using. – No, I take only what I know, I’ll use.
As you can see, one of my weaknesses is affection for certain things, which makes it hard to part sometimes and hard to resist at other times. The other weakness is laziness or “not wanting to deal with it”, putting off things, which leads to messy paperwork and messy work spaces. I know that I shy away from some tasks though and I don’t know whether I will ever be on top of these things on a permanent basis. I have come into the habit of dealing more often with those tasks though and also doing them incompletely which helps a lot. A few years ago, if there were a lot of bills to pay, I would have forced myself to do them all at once, dread that task and put it off. Now, I may just pay one and pay another one the next day. It might seem less efficient, but it helps me do at least SOMETHING, keep the stacks small and I personally get things done faster than I would otherwise (as it’s me, and I would procrastinate otherwise). So I don’t beat myself to do stuff like I think a grown-up should do something, but am satisfied with myself if I just start and do something about it.
Good job Sanna. It looks likes you know your weaknesses and have figured out strategies to deal with them.
Deb J says
Well, for the most part I don’t have any of those tendencies. the big one for me would be leaving a neat pile of things I’m trying to work through on my desk. Out of sight out of mind works too well for me so I put them where I will see them. But I am also actively working through them.
My mother fell again yesterday. Second time in 3 weeks. It is because the slightest thing that catches her foot then causes her to go down because she doesn’t have the balance to keep herself upright. Today we are going to tour an independent living complex where they also have assisted living and a nursing home if needed at some point in time. We have known we needed to move and have been looking. As long as she is here where there is outside maintenance she will try to do it. I can’t keep her from it. Her statement last night was “if we are going to move and have the housekeeping done for us and one meal a day done for us we have more we can get rid of.” Pray for us as we go through this time.
I will be thinking of you, Deb.
That’s a story of good and bad Deb. I will pray for you and your mother.
Jennifer L says
Deb J, I’ll be praying for you and your mother, too.
I also need to see my work in progress items, otherwise I wont do anything about it. I make a mess on purpose in order to get it quickly cleared again. this can result in some areas of “clutter”, but I figured as long as its just temporary, I dont mind…
I also think of you and your mum. you guys have been aware of the situation for a long time and maybe this is now the last drop for the final decision. moving (and downsizing I guess?) will be the perfect opportunity to declutter heaps and heaps of your stuff…
I’m thinking of you both.
Colleen Madsen says
Hi Deb J, I hope you get the housing you require. You certainly have earned a few brownie points with the big fella lately so I hope he grants your wish.
Thinking of you Deb J
Good luck with that Deb. My elderly Mom falls nearly weekly now (from what she tells me) & yet she is adamant that she can continue living solo. I tried to discuss this with her to no avail & when I tried to enlist help & support from my siblings they all turned tail & said I’m over-reacting. Really they don’t want to be the one to be responsbile for having Mom put in an assisted care center & gladly stick their heads in the sand leaving it all on me. I drove the 4 hours up o Mom’s on a few occasions recently to have her tour these facilities & she flat out refuses to go or convinces me to give her another chance. Then calls me 2 days later to say she fell yet again.
I won’t say I’ve washed my hands on this…but I will say that I’ve done my part & can do no more at the point. I threw the ball back in her court & refuse to play anymore until the rules change.
Deb, I hope this all goes better for both you & your Mom. You’re in my thoughts & prayers!
Wendy F says
Hi Jane, perhaps you could get your Mum an Alert Necklace. So if she falls and needs assistance the necklace alerts some one close who can assist her. She may be eligible for daily visits by a nurse or carer. Someone just to chat to, or do some housework. There are so many ways to keep people living independently in their homes, maybe this would be more acceptable to your family. I do know one lady who was against moving to a “village” from her apartment. She will gladly tell you know that it was a great idea, she has new friends, support, outings and excellent facilities.
Wendy, I actually tried a home health aide for Mom once. Quite interesting in that my Mom would call me as soon as the nurse left & confess to me that she put on an Oscar-winning performance in order to convince the nurse that she (my Mom) was just fine & dandy. Argh!
Anyways, we toured a senior village last year that spanned the needs of no assistance-needed onward to those in which full-time care is necessary. Mom could still drive her car & keep her lap dog & would even have a neat little kitchen even though a communal cafeteria was on campus. It was brand new & really really fancy. I’d live there! But Mom wanted to think about it for “a few more years”. Double argh!
Anyways, I concede & accept that being proactive is not what my Mom wants. She’s more a reactive rather than proactive personality. So be it.
Deb J says
Mom is willing to go if we can find someplace we can afford. Jane, I’m sorry your mother is not willing. It can be hard and if the sibs don’t help then it is worse. My brother could care less.
Deb, I’m actually quite relieved & even a tinge jealous that your Mom is a willing participant in securing a safe place that can monitor her health. I know how stressful these things can be & it sure helps to have acceptance on your Mom’s part. I sure hope you guys can find a good, safe location that your Mom (& you) are comfortable with & can afford.
Sorry to hear your brother is a no-show with all this. He’s probably hoping you do all the work & he never has to get his hands dirty. I have a few siblings with that mentality. Ugh!
So how are you holding up Deb? We know about your Mom, but are you holding up ok through all this?
Deb J says
Jane, I’m okay. Physically I’m exhausted by helping S and now this but God will get me through it all. thanks for asking and thanks to everyone for your good wishes.
Wendy B says
Jane, I’m in exactly the same position now with my aged uncle, except he lives 2 days’ drive away. This is crazy-making and the worst of it is – you lose no matter what you do. You have my greatest sympathy. Good luck.
Deb, good luck with the move. Very good that your mother’s onside.
Here’s a little funny my Mom sent me recently:
Three elderly sisters, ages 92, 94 and 96, shared a house together.
One evening, the 96 year old sister went upstairs to take a bath. As she put her foot into the tub, she paused. Then she yelled down to the other two sisters and asked, “Was I getting in the tub or out?”
“You dern fool,” said the 94 year old. “I’ll come up and see.” When she got half way up the stairs she paused. “Was I going up the stairs or down?”
The 92 year old sister was sitting at the kitchen table drinking a cup of tea and thought, “I hope I never get that forgetful, knock on wood.” She shook her head and called out, “I’ll be up to help you both as soon as I see who’s at the door.”
Jennifer L says
Deb J, Will you be going with your mother to live also. Or, is it a place just for her? If its O.K. to ask?
Deb J says
Jennifer L, it is fine to ask. Yes I will be going with her. She does not need assisted living yet so we can go to the same place. I’ve been checking into places and it is not going to be easy. I’m also going to look into having things done here and see what that would entail. The solution is out there and GOd will help me find it.
Will keep you in my prayers, Deb!
Good luck! But I’m sure things will turn out good because your mum is into it with you – I believe that those who are ready to accept help and do ask for it will get it (maybe not always … but the main hinderances for good living conditions in old age seem to be stubborness and inflexibility … seen that … it’s heartbreaking sometimes)
This were interesting questions. My sister came to visit for a few days this week and we decided to eat at the dining room table instead of on TV trays in the living room. When it is just my husband and me, we watch Jeopardy and eat in front of the TV but with company, decided to eat at the table. Well, there was mail and my work product in several piles on the table. Now, they are in one of the unused chairs and I still need to sort through them. The table is really a catch all and the better I do at tossing the mail when it comes, there are still things that need to be looked at more thoroughly so they just stay there. Also, I work at the table so my work papers sit there. I need to change this up but it’s really hard to find another place for these items.
Also, I am terrible about taking free things. When we were on vacation in February, I only took the shampoo and bath gel that were the leftovers from my use. The unused lotions and soaps, I left for someone else. This is hard because I want to bring them home for stocking stuffers but am making a conscious effort not to do that. How many of them do I need? I did purchase 2 pairs of slacks last week that came with a small toiletry case and carry-on suitcase. I debated as to whether to accept them but decided it would make a nice gift for one of my Christmas angels so will include it in my Christmas gift and it will have a new use, just not in my house. I have a difficult time at fairs and expos because of all the “freebies” but am really trying to remember that when it gets to my house, it is tossed so might as well just not take it in the first place. We are so conditioned to accepting free stuff at these events that it is really hard to say no. As I’ve said before, all the information I get from Cindy and Colleen and the rest of the posters helps me to rethink some of the things I do and I really appreciate that. My house is looking better thanks to all these tips.
Maggie, It sounds like you still have some areas of weakness but being aware of them is the first step toward getting them sorted out. Not bringing new things into the house is a big key to success; in fact, the longer I declutter, the more important I think it is. (Makes sense, since once you move a lot of stuff out the trouble comes from the new things being added.) Keep reading and getting support.
Deb J, forgot to say I’ll be thinking of you as you make you upcoming tough decisions. My husband’s mom just did not want to leave her home but she had a very hard time getting around. What finally happened was that she got very ill and went into the hospital and then to hospice and died there. It was very quick so we did not have to make the decisions that you are going through. Much blessings for you and your mom as you venture into new territory.
Deb J says
Thanks Maggie. At least my mom is in good health for the most part. She just seems to not have as good of balance in her legs due to the sminal stenosis she has. Still at 84 1/2 I know that it’s time.
Most of these apply to me, actually. I already knew that, though, which is why I’m on a decluttering mission. When I look at my home and I think it’s very cluttered, I remind myself that it is not cluttered compared to many mainstream homes. We’re a family of 4 in a one bedroom, after all.
I also remind myself that 5 years ago, we easily owned 3 times as much stuff. My husband and I were both pack rats, but now we have two kids!
I definitely have a hoarding mentality, though. I attribute it to spending my teenage years living in poverty. I never feel like I’ll have enough, or be able to replace what I need. I’m working past that, though. 🙂
Sounds like you’ve come a long ways, but you do live in a small space so it needs to stay decluttered and cleared. Poverty and perhaps living with a “save it in case we need it and can’t afford another one” parent certainly would promote a hoarding tendency. Good to know so that you can keep it in check.
Yes, we do. That’s why almost daily I go through our things. It feels cluttered to me, though only one person ever has said anything negative about our home and she was focused on the pile of stuff that was headed to Goodwill! Everyone else comments on how clean and organized it is. So it’s a matter of perspective, too.
I’m not sure I’ll ever be happy with how things look though! Haha.
Mark Adam Douglass (@MADouglass) says
Lyn. You and your husband should be proud of the progress you have made so far. I too have a similar background, in that we didn’t have much spare money. And as soon as it became more abundant, my mother hoarded like crazy, and taught me well. I am so glad I am unlearning those traits.
Thank you Mark! We definitely have come a long way. My husband and I used to contribute to my in-laws’ yard sales and it was always hard for us to decide what to put in the yard sale. Now, I gladly take boxes of stuff to thrift stores or post them on Freecycle. Such a mind change!
I have to unlearn the same traits. I wish you luck. Feel free to email me if you ever want some support.
Mark Adam Douglass (@MADouglass) says
Lynn. Thank you for your offer of support. I will definitely take you up on your offer if I feel the need. It is so appreciated
now, for the first time ever, I had troubles accessing your blog. first chrome said it couldnt find the site and then it took ages to reload again. I hope its because you change something…
Do you have a hard time parting with items, even if you never use them or theyâ€™re broken. sometimes I still do. its sentimental items I have troubles with.
Do you have many items around your house that donâ€™t have a permanent home? No, but I did before I started decluttering.
Do you tend to make pile of things, to be dealt with at a future time, and these piles often linger for more than a few days. yes, its my strategy to remind myself of those items. just like Deb J said before – out of sight, out of mind.
Are there areas in your home (the dining room table, for instance) that must be cleared off before they can be sued for their intended purpose? Sometimes my kitchen table is full of stuff (newspaper, books, uni-related stuff, etc) because its the one closest to the front door. it is easy to get cleared though.
Do you save things often because you are concerned about how you will fell if you need them in the future and no longer have them. nope.
Do you often save things without a clear idea of how youâ€™ll use them in the future? Nope.
Do you still have items that you once bought with the intention of giving them away as gifts? Nope. Had a few, decluttered them a long time ago.
Do you have boxes of possessions that have moved with you from home to home but youâ€™ve never gone through? No.
Do you often buy multiples of the same items because youâ€™ve forgotten you have it? Nope. I do buy multiples of items that I tend to lose regularly. nail files and lighters mostly. of course you always find them as soon as you got the new one…
Are you helpless when faced with a â€œgood deal,â€ even if itâ€™s a good deal on something you donâ€™t need? Nope.
Do you take free things, like shampoos from hotels or packets of soup crackers, that you never wind up using. I only take things that I need and lose regularly: usually pens and lighters.
Sounds like you’re in good shape! Good job!
lots of “sometimes” in it for me … But I guess I knew that before. Still a long road ahead of me but I give myself a slight tap on the shoulder for putting quite a big box of stuff outside with a “free” sign when the fleamarket I had been planning to attend was cancelled. I put the box out two days in a row and now it’s all gone. I even refilled it a little bit and will put it out again if the weather allows.
So no, I don’t feel like a hoarder, at least not too much, even if I still have too much stuff around and parting with it unfortunately still is not always easy or quick.
Ideealistin, every single item decluttered is one less. It’s the old adage about how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
I did answer yes to some of these questions. That is okay though because I am constantly aware of my weak points and I actively work toward improving in those areas. Everyday I am overcoming them little by little.
Deb J., I will be praying for you and your mom.
Colleen Madsen says
I think I can confidently say that I can answer no to all of these questions. I would not say it was true of me in the past though. Luckily the questions were worded in such a way that I could say no, take out a word or two and my answer would have to be yes such as…
6. Do you often save things without a clear idea of how youâ€™ll use them in the future?
…the key words here are “often save” and my answer would be no. Change the “often save” to “have” and I am not sure I could honestly say no anymore. My craft room is full of stuff that isn’t in immediate use but I am constantly creating stuff lately so the supplies that are un abundance from my old self are slowly dwindling. I have finally opened an Etsy shop and we will see how that goes.
Oh gosh Etsy. I can spend hours just gushing over all the pretties on Etsy.
Colleen Madsen says
Hence why I never gave my store name. How crafty of me. Get it crafty. How funny I am today, my son would be proud. He has a unique sense of humour also.
I found you easily. 😉
Good luck and have fun with your Etsy shop!
Veeeery clever of you! Very clever indeed.
Cindy this is a really good post – however, I think you’re being a little hard on yourself as your home is what I call a working household, everyone has somewhere to be every day, everyone has things they have to do, everyone is on the go, and they only way to eliminate what I call “active-duty clutter” is to not have children in the house – not an option.
Each surface goes thru a lot of incarnations in a day of its purpose.
But here goes:
Do you have a hard time parting with items, even if you never use them or theyâ€™re broken? No
Do you have many items around your house that donâ€™t have a permanent home? No
Whoops hit the wrong button.
Do you tend to make pile of things, to be dealt with at a future time, and these piles often linger for more than a few days?
Desk but it is the nerve centre of the bat cave, and a lot of info passes thru that area each day, so I can forgive myself for the school notices for events that have yet to pass, the receipts that I have yet toss (I like my hubby to have a look thru each month to keep a realistic idea of how much things cost) and all the other flotsom and jetsom that a household generates.
Are there areas in your home (the dining room table, for instance) that must be cleared off before they can be sued for their intended purpose?
Yes – my dining room table serves about 5 purposes aside from dining room table, but I do clear off one use ie homework table or art table or sewing table completely before it has its next round of use.
Do you save things often because you are concerned about how you will feel if you need them in the future and no longer have them?
Do you often save things without a clear idea of how youâ€™ll use them in the future?
Not really, the exception would be sewing fabric for dance costumes, as in sizeable pieces not scraps, and they do eventually get used.
Do you still have items that you once bought with the intention of giving them away as gifts?
Yes, a small assortment of items that I give my niece one each visit, probably only 4 or 5 items left.
Do you have boxes of possessions that have moved with you from home to home but youâ€™ve never gone through?
Are you helpless when faced with a â€œgood deal,â€ even if itâ€™s a good deal on something you donâ€™t need?
Do you often buy multiples of the same items because youâ€™ve forgotten you have it?
No – have done so in the past, but I have been over the place so many times in the last year that I have a pretty good idea of where things are.
Hit the wrong button again!
Do you take free things, like shampoos from hotels or packets of soup crackers, that you never wind up using?
No – I used to, but always ended up not using them
Claire/Just a little less says
Ok – yes, I like to make piles of things. I’ve just got to get a grip with dealing with paperwork more efficiently. But who wants to be perfect?
Mark Adam Douglass (@MADouglass) says
I was definitely a hoarder, and could have answered yes to almost all of these a few years ago.
And now, I can say no to all.
I have changed my ways dramatically, thanks to supportive communities such as this one.
Now it is a matter of sorting through all of my stuff. I have made it a long way through, but realise I still have a long way to go.
I only wish I could help my mum with her hoarding tendencies…
I think you are doing great. congrats on your progress.. maybe your can see and feel the benefits that you are getting from your changes. lead as a role model, just start praising the benefits of decluttering. thats what I am doing, and I can see the influence I am having. although that is a small scale because no hoarding here.
I can answer no to all questions too. I think holding onto a few craft supplies with no real finished project in mind does not a hoarder make. Those questions were broad-stroke questions, but I see where Dr. Zasio is going with those type questions.
I do think that if you are at a hotel and use half of the soap or shampoo that you should take it and use the rest instead of having it just thrown out. I think we have a responsibility to use the resources we have wisely and not waste. So, use it and recycle the containers. But, I wouldn’t just get it and hoard it and never use it unless you plan on donating it to a shelter or place that is willing to accept half used items. There is a balance, but it is important not to be wasteful.
I think I’ll print out these questions and hang them on the kitchen door to remind myself of not my decluttering mission. I have not decluttered much for the last few weeks due to the baby and most stuff has been baby related. Isn’t it amazing how quickly they outgrow clothes? And my baby has such big feet that all those cute little socks she got were useless and went straight to the bag for a babyclothes sale in spring. As did some other things that were here size but inappropriate for our weather conditions. (thanks to overseas realtives, what a waste of postage!)
But back on topic: I must admit that i did answer yes to a few of the questions. I too keep stuff for crafts with no project in mind, although I’m working through them and they diminish slowly. Not much crafting going on with a new babe. 🙁 (Do other babies sleep during the day? mine doesn’t…)
I also make a pile of the paperwork that needs to be sorted. Might just do that now…… get it out of my system, it’s been nagging at me for a while now.
of to dig up the paper……
I read Dr Zasio’s book too and saw aspects of myself in those questions. I think most of us have tendencies towards holding onto things, but one of the key differences is where the thought goes from there – do you shake your head and say don’t be silly, you don’t need that! or does anxiety and illogical thinking take over? I still have ridiculous arguments in my own head when faced with getting rid of something difficult, even though I have gotten much better over the years. I still need to work on my procrastination.
As for catalogs – I use catalogchoice.org to get my name off mailing lists. It takes time and doesn’t work perfectly, but it has helped. In the US, junk mail is a constant problem – it’s the only thing keeping the postal service in business from what I’ve heard, so they keep making it easier for companies to mail stuff you don’t want.