Tips for the Organized Hoarder

My mum still lives in the same house I grew up in. I’m pretty sure it’s about 1,000 sq ft with 3 bedrooms and one bathroom. She’s very tidy and her place is well maintained. but i’m always so surprised when she can pull out some random thing from my childhood and know exactly where everything is. She has a double wide wardrobe/closet in each room that she uses all for herself and one closet, I kid you not, only contains white blouses. I have wondered many times if she’s just a super organized hoarder.

Now I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who got all kinds of crazy being stuck at home during the pandemic, as our walls began to close in and things that often went unnoticed during our regular, busy, day to day living, started to blare at us. The unfinished projects, the bulging cupboards of “stuff” that called to us daily but our usual, “i’ll get to that later” excuse just wasn’t cutting it. We literally had nothing to do but notice and with the endless hours of free time between eating, netflix binges and ordering random things from Amazon, I had passed the point of any excuse to not deal with it. So I did and these are my tips to tackle excess stuff and organize your hoarding when you really don’t have too much time.

First, the things I’d do differently:

  1. I binge watched an “Organization” series on TV and I wish I hadn’t. It was very esthetic and had all the colors of the rainbow mixed with baskets and clear tubs but it set a very unrealistic expectation for most of us and I bought into it. Literally. I spent a fortune.
  2. Not defining which area I had the resources to work on. (Time and money)

One drawer lead to a cupboard that required moving things to another room which opened another door of crazy which sidetracked me with memories and well, you know how the story goes….. 34 trips to the container store/target/ikea etc and $$$ dollars later and I was organized out. A few spaces had Instagram worthy pictures with labels and all but there was still chaos in other spaces. At one point I plead with the lady working at The Container Store to ban me for at least 6 months.

She was confused.

Anyhoo, it’s been a year and as I find myself with a car full of donations, yet again and cupboards that look like this…

I came to the conclusion that, just like my mother, I too am an organized Hoarder. Sentimental is deep in my DNA so I don’t plan to live like a minimalist but I have come up with a few ways to make and keep it all Organized.

My Tips for an organized space

  • Start with one area at a time. I recommend more than one drawer but do not tackle an entire room at once.
  • Determine it’s function. e.g. My 3 drawers and double cupboard in my bathroom will contain things to help me get ready (Skin care, hair products and tools, travel wash bag, self tanners, clip in hair extensions, tweezers, make up, it’s a lot of stuff)
  • Grab 4 large tubs or boxes and label 1-Keep, 2-Doesn’t belong, 3-Trash, 4-Donate
  • Remove everything from the space and divide it into the 4 tubs.
  • Clean the space
  • Move your tub 2 to a place temporarily designated for this organizing project. It can be the corner of a room or garage but remember it’s temporary.
  • Move tub 3 directly to the trash. Do not pass go, do not collect $200
  • Move tub 4 out of the area but we’ll come back to this tub.
  • Assess tub 1 and whether all the items will fit nicely in the designated area. If not, edit some more
  • Sort items into like piles.
If I was working in my bathroom, my piles might look like:

Skin care, tooth care, hair care, travel, supplements, make up.

Then I could subdivide some more. Hair care might divide into:

Tools, products, accessories, extensions, 
  • Decide what needs to go where. Daily use items at easy reach, while travel and occasional use items can be tucked away more. How many individual groupings do I have/need containers for?
  • Buy “organization” containers.

At this point I decided I needed more separation of items so I measured my cupboard, height and width and took note of where the sink pipes were. I determined I could fit two, 3 drawer plastic containers under the sink but they had to be different widths because of the u-bend pipe. I also figured my most used top drawer would benefit from some dividing trays to separate, tooth care from skin care. I measured and went shopping.

  • Put everything in it’s place.
Not Pinterest perfect but it works perfectly for me has been like this for 1 year so far.

I refrain from labeling at this point and plan to live with this for about a month to see what works and what doesn’t.

Picture 1- Before Pantry, 2-Unload and clean, 3-Sort and decide zones 4- shop for containers and put everything away.

My zones include from bottom to top: Baking supplies, Dry goods for meals, Meal Prep (veg, condiments) Breakfast, Canned Goods, Extra items
The Snack cupboard was a total fail. Individual containers were too much hassle. Instead we switched to large “pull out” baskets and just throw the items in their original packaging

Having shelves dedicated to “extras” means we shop our own shelves before we add something to the grocery list. It has cut down on duplicates and over buying.

Almost done.

It may seem like we’re done but not just yet

  • Grab tub 4 Someone else is going to make great use of your un needed items, so decide if it’s something you could sell or donate. Think outside the box with your donations. (Local women’s centers helping ladies get back into the job world or your local pride centre that might receive items for Transgender friends that need a complete wardrobe whilst trying to pay for a home and food) If you donate to a cause you care about, it’s a lot easier to get rid of things that are still in very good condition.
  • Put donation items in your car and drop off ASAP
  • One month Later Re assess, make any tweaks and by all means label if you feel it necessary.

Your Organizing Project is complete

  • Use tub 2 and it’s content to decide the next area you might want to work on

I hope this helps.

Being organized has really helped me to know what I have on hand and cut down on additional purchases. But it has also allowed me to hold onto things I love or have sentimental memories with, without it feeling like I’m hoarding clutter.

Just a few of my memory scrapbooks.

Have fun and tag me in pictures of your new space @kingdomtostate

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