Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Packrat Behaviour

Managing the behaviour and characteristics of a packrat is a common reason that professional organizers are called by clients. Packrat behaviour is seen equally often at the office as it is in the home. The only difference is that at the office, there may be someone in a position of authority reminding you to keep your workspace in a professional state. The following behaviours and characteristics, modified from a list developed by Judith Kolberg and Kathleen Nadeau in ADD-Friendly ways to Organize your Life, may be familiar to you because of your own life or perhaps the life of someone around you:

  1. You hang on to things that you, or anyone else, hardly ever uses;
  2. You eagerly collect items regardless of whether you need them;
  3. You refuse to part with items because you think you will use them someday (but can't remember the last time you used it);
  4. You consider yourself a packrat;
  5. Your workspace or home is so cluttered it is hardly functional;
  6. You have difficulty making decisions about objects.

Sound familiar? The following strategies may help you get started on a healthier path.

  1. Try the "two for one" policy when bringing new things into your environment. If you bring a new book into your home, commit to removing two books already there that you can't remember the last time you touched.
  2. Ask someone you trust, a clutter companion, to commit to a day of clearing out. It will probably take more than one session but you will find even starting will be very rewarding.
  3. Clear a sorting table so that you have a clear space at waist height in which to sort. You will find this easy on your back and the sorting will feel easier.
  4. Choose items of better quality and let the quantity of objects diminish. If you find 4 staplers, keep the best one.
  5. Play the Friends, Acquaintances, Strangers game. Objects that feel like friends can stay. Acquaintances may or may not stay depending on their timeliness and utility. The strangers leave your space.
  6. Establish and maintain a commitment to yourself to live in a healthier lifespace. You deserve it.

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