- Get out a pen and a piece of paper and write down all the items in the photo below. Leave some space to write between each item.
- Write down as many categories as you can think of to put these items into. What would you categorize them as?
- Now number the items with the "highest value" as 1, then 2, then 3, until you have every item on your list numbered from most valuable to least valuable.
Often, clients with Chronic Disorganization (CD) have difficulty with the steps above. They likely struggle with categorizing the items throughout their homes. This quick exercise that may seem elementary to some people, would leave others feeling anxious.
Why does the inability to categorize lead to trouble?
When you can not decide what the best place is to store an item, where you look for it, or what you plan to do with it, suddenly an empty package can put the weight of the world on your shoulders. People often strive for perfection and as a result get trapped doing nothing…all those nothings can quickly add up to something!
Isn't the candy wrapper trash?
Not exactly, this is where my questions about value comes in from above. Many people struggling with CD and hoarding tend to value all the stuff in their home equally. From the items in the photo above, non CD folks likely rated family photos or jewelry as more valuable than the wrapper or box of crackers. With CD, it is really difficult to differentiate because there are so many ideas associated with what they "could" or "should" do with something. Then, items often take on more value than they realistically have. When people associate a value with something it becomes increasingly difficult to get rid of.
One question I ask a lot, and customize to each client is:
"Is this item worth…
- not being able to live in your own home?"
- not being able to have your friends over?"
- not being able to use this room?"
- more than this______?"
It can sometimes be a slow process, but my goal is to identify what the client truly wants. They have called me for a reason, and I help them identify how they got in the situation they are in, prioritize what needs to stay, and purge the rest!