Why you can’t get rid of your stuff!
Do you suffer from the “I Might Need It Someday” Syndrome? It’s quite common among ADHD Adults, and is one of the leading causes of our chronic tendency to clutter.
Here are a few signs:
- Your closet is full of clothes from your college years (when you’re past 40), or in sizes that you haven’t fit into since Clinton was president. You don’t want to give them up because they might come back in style, and you expect to lose that weight any day now.
- Your basement is stuffed with old stereos, computers and monitors that you’ve long since replaced. You have a box full of electronic and USB chords that you no longer know what they plug into. But you don’t dare pitch them because someday you’ll find the product that they go with (obsolescence be damned!)
- You have a junk drawer full of unlabeled keys, dried up ball point pens, and weird unidentifiable plastic gadgets. Someday you’ll suddenly realize what they’re for, and you’ll be glad you saved them.
To the uninformed, areas of your home may look suspiciously like that of a hoarder. But there IS a difference between plain old ADD / ADHD clutter and true hoarding. Hoarding is recognized as a specific psychological condition, an intense need to to acquire and/or to save things. As ADHD Adults, we don’t so much need to save things as we find it easier to save them than to get rid of them. We truly believe we might need them someday.
Why do we hang on to stuff?
There must be many different ADD-type reasons why we hang onto stuff long past their due date. Since I’m in a confessional mode, I’ll give you my reasons.
Impatience – It’s boring and time-consuming to get rid of things responsibly. It would take hours of time to shred papers, post items on Craigslist, hold garage sales and haul old computer equipment to the proper disposal facility. I know I have many duplicate files. I also know I’ll never look at most of these papers ever again. But rather than spend the days it would require to purge these, I get another file cabinet. After all, time is money!
Need for Stimulation – Even though I’ll never have time to read all the reading material I’m saving, I need to know that it’s there, waiting for me. It’s gotten worse since so many companies have started using rewards programs. Every month some other company wants to reward me for filling out a survey, paying my credit card bill, or just because it’s Wednesday. The “reward” is free magazine subscriptions – just what my ADD needs! I now have piles of unread Gourmet next to piles of unread Cooking Light. Though I’m neither cooking nor dieting, I keep them because I might want to read them someday.
Difficulty Making Decisions – I’m pretty good at making decisions on important things. I’ve made some of my best decisions in a snap, and have never regretted them. But when it comes to deciding what to keep and what to throw out, each item becomes agony. Until last year, I had suits from my consulting days in the ‘90’s that still had price tags on them. (By the way, there is no such thing as a “timeless” suit. After 10 years, they really look dated!)
So what do you do?
1. Decide whether it’s really important to spend time purging your stuff. It IS important if:
- you share your space with others who hate clutter
- you can’t find things you DO need because you’re drowning in things you don’t need
- you live in a small space and don’t have room to spare
- you can’t invite people over because there’s no room for them to sit
Under these circumstances, purging is necessary. My “Clear Clutter Guide” shows you step by step how to get through stuff. Hire a professional organizer or enlist a firm friend to help.
2. Develop rules or rituals that you’re willing to follow, regarding purging excess . For example, at the end of each season, give away anything you haven’t worn. (If you’re able to do that, you probably don’t need this post!)
3. Donate lightly used clothing and household items to charity. It’s not only a good deed, but also a tax deduction. Mark dates of charity pick-ups on your calendar. Make sure you fill at least one whole box of stuff to give away.
Sure, you might need it someday. But there’s probably someone who REALLY needs it right now.