Clutter is a state of mind.
If you are living in a house where you can’t even see the floor, let alone actually find anything important, then the origin of the problem is not physical.
This level of extreme clutter (or hoarding) tends to occur during or following traumatic life events like divorce and death, but it can also be a cumulative representation of a life that you just aren’t happy with.
Our surroundings reflect what is going on inside.
If your house is seemingly beyond help, what can you do?
It can be very hard to even know what the initial problem is when you are living this way. When you live and breathe in an environment like this every day, it becomes normal to you, and it is hard to relate to what might be going on emotionally.
I know, because I have lived this way.
You have a few options when faced with total clutter devastation.
But whichever you choose, you must first admit to yourself that extreme clutter is more of an emotional issue than a physical one. Many, many people successfully work through their own issues, but many others need help. There is no shame in that at all. It is extremely brave to stand up and admit that you need assistance.
But it is also extremely brave (and potentially harder work), to do the job yourself. You know you better than anyone else in the world. The actual process of clearing clutter and keeping it clear can be incredibly beneficial and really help you to move forward mentally. It can also reveal uncomfortable feelings, prompt a sensation of insecurity, and break down walls of protection that have been in place for a long time.
Be gentle with yourself and know that there IS a better way. I found a way out, and so can you.
Here are my suggestions for getting started when things are really bad:
Head-on, all-out, attack.
Enlist one or more helpers if you can. Spend a day or a weekend getting the worst offenders out of the way. Don’t seek perfection (you can’t clear this much in one day unless you really are prepared to throw most of it in a skip). Instead aim to deal with BIG items. Don’t start unpacking everything – instead tackle furniture, junk, rubbish, magazines, and easy items. The plan should be to scale back the chaos to something more manageable that you can then tackle piecemeal.
Start with one room.
Close off the rest of the house and start with your bedroom. You also need a functional kitchen, and an accessible bathroom. Carve these spaces out and put everything that doesn’t belong in them into the other rooms. This option is good if you have reached a point where you are committed to change. It will give you breathing space to start work, and provide a sense of relief in the areas that you use the most. It is NOT a good idea if you aren’t really sure if you can get rid of anything. You may just end up filling up the newly created space with more stuff and doubling the problem. Know yourself.
Call in the experts
Finally, as a last resort, you may need professional help. Only you can know if you have reached this point. Search deep down and ask yourself if you think you can get out of this on your own. We all have inner strength and commitment beyond our initial expectations. Is yours in there? Can you do it? If the answer is no, a professional organiser, or possibly a series of sessions with a counsellor might be the best approach to get you unstuck.
The first steps are the hardest. Once you have started your journey, you can find a wealth of information here to keep you going in the right direction.
I wish you peace and happiness on your quest!