Organizational Advice for a Packrat?

How does a packrat/hoarder begin to organize?

By Sandy from Mechanicsville, MD


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November 13, 20090 found this helpful

Pick a room that has the least stuff in it and clean it out to other parts of the house (preferably with similar items). Get some materials to organize with and to increase storahe potential. Put these items in the cleaned out room.
Now pick a room to work on next. Preferrably a room with stuff that is semi organized. Start with the closet (if there is one) and start putting stuff in the cleaned room but now you can organize the stuff. Things you might want to sell on Amazon or Ebay put in designated boxes. Yard sale stuff goes into boxes as well, preferably in an enclosed porch, shed or garage.

Things to give away can be bagged or boxed and taken to most local churches on a daily basis to cut down on the clutter. For that matter, depending on your situation. You could do the donation stuff first through out the whole house. Get a large trash can and a couple boxes and go through one room at a time. Don't even think there is an easy way to do this. Well there is, I take that back. Buy a box of yard bags and just through anything and everything away. take it to the corner for pickup or to the dump yourself. Harsh but affective way to clean up and get things down to an easier organizable load. :) Good Luck

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November 13, 20090 found this helpful

I am downsizing in my home and started with the closets and dresser drawers and removed everything from them and placed on the bed. I sorted through each item deciding which clothing item I would keep and organized by color before hanging back in the closet. This is a good time to wash down the closet flooring, walls, and replace drawer liners if necessary.


It's a good feeling seeing your progress. Next, tackle all those knick knacks throughout the room and remove to another location. Clean the room thoroughly and decide to use minimal decorations. If you can't stand to part with a collection then put into a labeled box and store away. This makes dusting time cut in half and the room is much nicer with less clutter sitting about. I love what I've been working on and wish I'd begun sooner. It just means you've got to be willing to part with some items and keep only what you really like the most. Then, if you buy something else, get rid of another and that will help to keep things at a minimum and give you a new look.

Clothing items to discard can be given to the neediest residents of a nursing home facility and to children and grandchildren. It's a compliment when a child chooses to dress up at Halloween as their parent/grandparent wearing one of those discarded outfits.


Free clothing is needed in a lot of thrifty stores or helping hand shops. You could also fill a box, mark "FREE" and place out front as someone is bound to take it off your hands. Save for yard/garage sale weather or put on any clothing, knick kacks, etc. you're willing to release and make a small profit.

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November 14, 20090 found this helpful

I like the ideas from organizing expert Peter Walsh. He used to be on the TLC program "Clean Sweep" and is on Oprah frequently. He has several books out that you could ask you library to get for you. He also has tips and videos at his site and on Oprah's site.

There is also a tv show on A & E channel on Mondays called "Hoarders" that I have been watching that is very interesting and they have some info on their site:


A lot will depend on the level of hoarding or pack-rat behavior. It is not just laziness or clutter gone wild but has a psychological component to it.

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November 16, 20090 found this helpful

One pile at a time. Sometimes clutter has to do with the fact that you don't have enough storage. Think about how you can expend cabinet and closet space. If you have grown kids, tell them to come and pick up their stuff.

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November 16, 20090 found this helpful

Unfortunately, it is not just a matter of organizing your stuff, but going through it and getting rid of things you don't need. You can go through general stuff anytime, but I find that it's easiest when in the "mood." During these times, I can be a little more ruthless with things I'm willing to purge from my life. Whatever you do, do not allow yourself to become paralyzed from not knowing where to start. Just pick one drawer, one cupboard, one box, and keep working until done, then move to the next.


After you've gone through everything, it is so much easier to organize everything. I find motivation by seeing how much room I have found, clothes I have forgotten about, and stuff I need and now do not have to rebuy since I've found them. And remember, it's a process that will take time. I also like putting stuff aside for a yard sale. Nothing like making money to spur you on. During other times, I just donate the stuff to move it out and clear my house and my head at the same time. Good Luck.

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November 16, 20090 found this helpful

You have been given very good advice. All I have left to say is when you are working on a pile, cupboard, drawer, closet, corner, etc., and you are trying to decide what to do with stuff one at a time...


Ask yourself these questions:
1. Have I used this in the past year (365 days) (52 weeks)?

2. Is it worth the mess I am looking at to keep if I haven't used it?
3. If it was intended to be a I really going to take the time to package and mail it or take it to so and so?
4. Do I really need this?

When you are tackling an area, take some yard garbage bags with you for garbage and some boxes or more yard garbage bags designated for donation to your nearest thrift store.

1. One is for keep and put away.
2. Two is for garbage bag.
3. Three is for give away bag or box.

When finished, take the garbage out right away. And take the give away to your trunk right away. Deal with cleaning surfaces last when all is done. It won't seem so overwhelming that way.

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November 16, 20090 found this helpful

Go to where I learned that anything can be done in 15 minutes a day. My husband couldn't believe it when we did only 15 minutes a day to his closet and then mine by going through & sorting into keep piles, throw away piles, rag bag piles and donating to Good Will piles. Within in less then a "5 day" period of time the job was done for another year.

We both love (The originator used to "teach" FLY FISHING in NC) and that is how the nick name of hers stuck. We are sure you will love her too. Good Luck and let us know how you end up with your task at hand.

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November 17, 20090 found this helpful

I am so glad to hear that I'm not the only one with this problem! I am currently dealing with the same thing myself. I'm an "empty nester" now so I am trying to "re-do" two rooms in my house. It becomes so overwhelming. So much stuff HAS to go out of here.

You've gotten good advice. I have found that just tackling one thing at a time keeps you from feeling overwhelmed and giving up. Of course, I'm a little "hyper" so although I'll be doing one thing, I'll see something else and switch gears, so I'm famous for not finishing what I started before starting something else. So I'm working on controlling my own impulses first.

I just don't have enough room in this house for all this. As mentioned above, storage space is very limited. I'm re-doing those two rooms and have already bought new items to go in them hoping that would motivate me to get it done. So far, all it's caused is me bringing yet more stuff in here and finding a place to put it! LOL! Good luck (to us both!)

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January 11, 20100 found this helpful

Start with 10 minutes at a time. We can stand anything for just 10 minutes. Tackle one area and stick with it for the allotted time. As you go from room to room pick up and take with you any item that doesn't belong there and find a place for it. If there isn't a place, do you really need it? Practice the rule, one thing in, one thing out. And share, share and share some more. Amazing things begin to happen. Good Luck!

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