Don’t Be Hoardish: On Trying To Eliminate Clutter From Your Life

Every adventurous spirit knows that when you leave a place, there’s not always a lot you can take with you. For me, this meant whatever I could fit in my Ford Focus. I’ve been that way since leaving home for college six years ago and haven’t stopped. You might even say that it started when I was five and my family moved for the first of six times during my tenure at home. One might think that this mentality would help keep the clutter to a minimum. Sadly, that is not the case.

Like others in my situation, I’m not a hoarder. Watch one episode of the show by that name and you can plainly see that being a hoarder is a serious psychological condition. However, I might go as far as to say that I have hoarder-like tendencies. I’m “Hoardish,” if you will.

This has become especially obvious now that I’ve settled in one place for some time and seen some unsavory habits rise to surface. Here are a few things that helped me to realize my Hoardish behavior.

  • Letting boxes, bags, or stacks of your belongings go unpacked for more than a couple months after moving into a new place.
  • Opening more than one drawer in a room and asking yourself, “I wonder what’s at the bottom?”
  • Walking or stepping around piles of clothes or general miscellany throughout your home for prolonged periods of time.

There are a litany of reasons why someone might find themselves in any of the situations above ranging from being downright lazy to being legitimately controlled by a compulsive fear of letting go of seemingly unnecessary items. That’s why I’m not so willing to over-diagnose myself and others. I’m sure, like many people my age, I really began to notice this behavior when I started living on my own in my first “real” place. After admitting that I was likely to stay there for quite some time, I wanted to own it. Not literally own the building, but “own it” in the sense that when I walked into my home, I wanted to feel a sense of completion and adulthood that you just can’t find in a dorm or off-campus housing.

When you live a nomadic lifestyle, moving to and from colleges or in and out of cities for work, you realize that your car, laptop, cell phone, and all the small things you take with you are extensions of yourself. You build up a collection of knick knacks, mementos, and small items that remind of where you’ve been and who you are. When you stay in one place for a long period of time, those extensions become bigger: a home, a neighborhood, a city. And when you start to expand, you can also start to let go of things you once thought you needed.

It’s not an easy process but there are few tricks that you can use to help fight off the Hoardish-ness.

  • Don’t let clutter sit and stare at you. The best thing you can do is find a place for everything and if there are still things you can’t find a place for, it’s time to donate or sell.
  • Open your closets and drawers at least once a month with the intention to organize, make it a part of your cleaning routine. Clutter seems to gather fastest in those places we don’t utilize frequently.
  • Download the Craigslist app, open an account, and use it! It’s a better plan than waiting for your next garage sale.
  • If organization is a challenge for you use, a to-do list app like Wunderlist,, or Remember the Milk. These are all apps that have great user reviews and I’ve personally used Wunderlist and love it for being able to move from mobile to desktop.

Most importantly, I think you should challenge yourself when it comes to getting rid of clutter. I once met a man who lived as a minimalist and never owned more than 100 items at once. I don’t think I’ll ever get down to that point but I do think it can be healthy to imagine living that way. Also try checking out The Burning House for more simplicity inspiration. Even if you’re not the type of person who moves around a lot, you might be surprised how the clutter in your life weighs you down.

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Tell us how you declutter in the comments section or by tweeting us @litdarling.

Photo by Jano Silva 

View Comment (1)
  • I love thrift shopping… therefore have taken on some hoarderish tendencies. However, I moved into a new place, got a little too sick to unpack and basically lived with my boyfriend for 2 months (our places are pretty much next door to each other) and realized, wow I don’t need nearly as much crap as I think. I still love collecting and find so much beauty in the smallest of things (avid art collector as well) but yeah, I understand the hoarding thing – too well. I love de-cluttering. Finding a love for minimalism.

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