Confession Time

It’s confession time. I have watched some of the TV news and TV reality shows about hoarders with disgust. How could anyone allow themselves to get into that kind of a muddle, I ask myself. Is it a physical problem? Maybe they don’t have the time, energy or ability to take care of this stuff. Perhaps, but I’m guessing that time, energy and ability are only small pieces of this puzzle. Well then, I think, maybe it’s something genetic? Hmm, maybe, but if it were you’d think their children would be exhibiting the same symptoms instead of turning the public spotlight of television on them. No, it must be something psychological, an addition perhaps?

My Realization

This weekend I went to my office to work and could not find a flat surface. I made excuses: working lots of overtime lately, lots of family stuff going on, etc. etc. All I needed was a little space, so I moved things around. I sat down to work, looked around my office, and that’s when it hit me: I am a hoarder.

No, I don’t hoard animals. (Though some would say three dogs are two too many). And I don’t have piles and piles of plastic bins full of stuff. (I don’t consider two or three a pile, do you?) No, nothing so exotic.

image of tall stacks of paper--my confession time.

My desk is piled high with paper, books, things I was going to put away and somehow found their way in here. But the worst pile of all is the paper. Full-sized notebook paper, typing paper, post-it notes, pieces of napkins, receipts, scraps of envelopes, and I don’t know what else. They’ve got notes on them-lists of things to do, ideas for stories, snippets of overheard conversations, goals, shopping lists, pieces of code that are useful. Sigh.

I hoard paper.  It piles up to the point of being near avalanche proportions as you can see (please, don’t judge): I hate to throw stuff out, especially if it has something written on it! I might need it someday. (Now, now.  I asked you not to judge!)

I have tried to conquer this addiction habit many times.  I’ve read ‘how to organize yourself books ad nauseum. The only piece of advice that has stuck in my head is “handle each paper only once.” Only once?! Come on now, I’m a writer. I write the first draft on the computer, but I edit on paper.  Not only that, my manuscript pages go through multiple revisions, meaning multiple printouts.  And, confession time, since the manuscript is my first priority, all those bills and receipts, and lists that are in that pile get shuffled multiple times.

Addressing the Problem

I spent a good portion of Sunday going through papers. The avalanche reduced to a foothill so I think I did a pretty good job of it. But I know fear that that in three or four weeks I’ll have more stacks of paper.

I won’t allow myself to get to the unhealthy proportions that we see on TV, but I need to nip this in the bud. I am confessing to you, part of my twelve-step self-assigned program to overcome my hoarding of paper. And I feel so much better now that I’ve gone public. I’m sure I’ll be able to overcome this.

Well, I was sure until I went to the basement to start laundry. No-really it’s not as cluttered and disorganized as it looks. I don’t have a hoarder’s addiction. It’s not my fault. Really. It’s-it’s genetic! And if you believe that you might want to read “It’s not the Dust Bunny’s Fault.

Tell me I’m not alone. It’s confession time. What hoarding gene do you have?


  1. Lynette, your blog was a perfect start to my Monday. thanks for the chuckle.

    I used to have a problem hoarding information. I’d keep notes and workshop handouts and ideas forever. But then I realized I was keeping them ‘in case I needed them in the future’ because I might never find the information again. With the internet, information abounds. it’s everywhere. So I started cleaning things out. and now I rarely hoard paper or information.
    good luck with your efforts

  2. I declared war on paper clutter last year! It has such a nasty, sneaky tendency to multiply, just like you describe. The irony is that when we keep stuff like this thinking we might need it – and when we actually do, we can’t find it (at least, I can’t). I try to combat paper clutter by filing stuff regularly – or better yet, as soon as I’m done with it – but it remains an ongoing battle. I’ve also found workshop notes, expired insurance policies (as in renewed), old bill stubs, you name it – and no, I’ve never needed those!

    The only other thing I can think of that I’ve hoarded is sunglasses. I don’t know anyone else in my family who does, so I can only guess it comes from the fact that I have a hard time finding ones that fit – and an easy time losing them. So when I find a pair that fits, I buy it. And keep it. I realized it was a problem when my daughter was digging for something in the armrest console of my car, and found it stuffed with sunglasses! LOL!

  3. For the most part, I am the opposite of a hoarder. Compared to most people, I feel like I’m pretty good about parting with items that I don’t need anymore, whether it’s gifts that just didn’t work out, clothing I haven’t worn in forever, or a gratuitous number of Tupperware containers.

    But papers are my Kryptonite. I’ve come up with ways to handle old receipts, bank statements, etc., but how do you handle those scraps of paper on which you’ve written lines of poetry, wisps of scene ideas, or snippets of snappy dialogue that came to you in the middle of some other task? Notes from conferences or workshops? Character names and story ideas? I’ve started a binder system that seems to help, and I remind myself that not every thought that pops into my head is solid gold (most of them are definitely NOT gold…). I struggle with this one, too, and I’m open to any suggestions or solutions people come up with!

  4. I’m also not much of a hoarder, it’s easy for me to part with stuff. Although I do tend to keep a lot of writing notes, but not that anyone would notice. But I do battle the hoarding thing a lot at home because my husband is prone to it. He leaves piles of paper and stuff all around the house like a trail of crumbs–and he never wants to go thru it let alone part with it!! 🙂

    1. Oh, my. He never wants to go thru it?! You’re husband’s got it bad. Maybe he’ll join my Hoarders Anonymous group I’ll start as soon as I can find the paper that reminds me how I was going to do that!

  5. *coughs and stands up* Hi. I’m Samantha, and I’m a secret hoarder. I’ve always had trouble throwing things away because “I might need them.” I’m not as bad as those on the show or some people I know (I know some true hoarders), but if there is an available surface in an area I claim as mine, it’s probably covered with stuff. Oh, I clean the surfaces all off from time to time, but they tend to fill up again. I like to have everything easily accessible, so stuff that should go in storage tends to be left out so I can see it, whether I use it or not. I think it stems from childhood. I don’t remember my mother ever telling me that I needed to clean my room. It’s funny, because she’s a neat freak, but she never pushed it on me.

  6. Okay seriously Lynette, I’m a neat freak, but who can honestly keep up with the paper? I tend to stack, while my husband files. Yes, I love this man. But my youngest son, he is a hoarder. He would do so well for a time and then his life, I mean room, desk would blow up. Paper everywhere.

    Is there such a thing as Hoarder Anonymous?

  7. I suffer from the same illness. Far too many papers around here with significance or importance attached to them. What to do? I need a full time paper filer or something on hand to deal with all of it, because I really don’t have the time. 🙁 Good luck getting it all cleaned up and organized!

  8. Raising my hand, too (and hoping no one I know see it!). Oh I hate paperwork! I have two under-the-bed storage containers, about 5″ x 18″ x 3′ packed full of writing stuff. I have a hutch-type desk…with notes tacked ALL over the top part, though I tend to use index cards rather than post it notes…one, because they can be knocked off too easily, and two…because I can write more on an index card! The rest of my desk looks like the trash service mistook it for the dump and emptied their truck all over it. Well maybe no quite that bad, but I’ve lost the desktop. And I KNOW it was there. I actually saw it a few weeks ago.

    The worst thing about this is that it’s happening ON MY COMPUTER. Seriously. I have files I know I need to get rid of. When I look at my monitor, I just make another folder to shove the files into so I don’t have to deal with them.

    But I’ve come to the realization that it’s not genetic, it’s not a disease, or laziness or anything like that. It’s an allergy. I’m allergic to paperwork…in all it’s forms. 🙂

    Oh yeah…books. What is it about books? There are four plastic grocery bags stuffed with books I need to sort through and (hopefully) drop most of them off at the Hospice store. Except they’ve been sitting there for almost a month. Why is it so hard to part with books?

    1. LOL! An allergy. Oh yes, it has to be. And like you, my computer desk top is getting piles on it, too. Note, I only took a picture of my desk. I didn’t want anyone else to see the piles of books and other stuff all over the office! Thanks for sharing!

  9. I am very guilty of being a paper hoarder and spreading papers and work-related things everywhere (even on the floor around my desk). You know what though? It kind of comforts me a little. I like being able to see everything I might need.

    But then it always feels good to straighten it up too. 🙂

    And like Kristy, I’m a terrible hoarder of emails!

  10. I’m so glad Marcy listed this link in her post because I missed it when it came out. I’m not judging you, uh-uh. I’m much worse. I just borrowed my daughter’s shredder so I can tackle all those papers. Sheesh!

    1. I think there is something that happens when two pieces of paper get together. Now, I’m not saying they’re procreating, but they sure do multiply! I would tell you to get your own shredder, but I have my own and can’t seem to keep up still. 🙂 Thank you for taking the time to visit and comment.

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