Is it OCD or OHO?

Have you watched TV news and TV reality shows about hoarders? How could anyone allow themselves to get into that kind of a muddle, you might ask. Is it a physical problem? Maybe they don’t have the time, energy or ability to take care of this stuff. Most likely time, energy and physical ability are only small pieces of this puzzle. According to the Mayo Clinic hoarding is the excessive collection of items, along with the inability to discard them. It may be a symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). But is it OCD or OHO?

The other day, I went to my office to work and could not find a flat surface. I made excuses: I’ve been working lots of overtime lately, I’ve had lots of family stuff going on, etc. etc. So I moved stuff around, all I needed was a little space. And I sat down to work, looked around my office . . .

Image of a messy stack of papers--alas I do hoard paper but is it OCD or OHO?
Courtesy of Toms Baugis

Uh, Houston, we may have a problem.

No, I don’t hoard animals. (Though some would say two 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.

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:  lists of things to do, ideas for stories, snippets of overheard conversations, goals, shopping lists, pieces of code that are useful. Sigh.

I confess

I hoard paper in all of its forms. It piles up to the point of being near avalanche proportions as you can see (please, don’t judge).

Image of a desk covered with stacks of papers--alas I do hoard paper but is it OCD or OHO?
Courtesy of L. E. Carmichael on Flickr Commons

And books.  They’re paper, too.

Image of stacks of books on full bookcase--alas I do hoard paper but is it OCD or OHO?Lynette M. Burrows, author; Lynette M. Burrows, science fiction author; Lynette M. Burrows, action-adventure science fiction
loaded bookcase by Lynette M. Burrows

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’ve read ‘how to organize’ 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 since the manuscript is my first priority, all those bills and receipts and lists pile higher. And books? I’ve got books to read for pleasure, books to read for research, books to read for fun, and books to read because they sound interesting.  In my house, books multiply exponentially!

Wait. If hoarding is not being able to discard things, that’s not what I have. It’s not that I am unable to throw things away, it’s that other things take priority.

So in answer to the question OCD or OHO? Not OCD but, OHO (otherwise happily occupied).

I suspect there are a lot of us OHO’s out there. (if you like this post you may want to read about dust bunnies.)

It’s time for you to confess.

What multiplies in your house when you are OCD or OHO?


  1. Dust. I can easily ignore dust. My desk does get cluttered, but I do have containers where everything is supposed to go, so it doesn’t take long when I need to clear a spot. 🙂

    1. Oh, dust, well I collect that, too. LOL. Hmm. Containers. I’d love to see a photo of your office. It might give me ideas.:)

  2. I’m OHO too. I have very organized piles of paper, books, and such. I have notes everywhere also. Of course I forget I make the notes until I find them later. I love the post.

    1. LOL. Yeah, it’s hard to remember all those notes. Thanks so much, Susan. I appreciate your support.

  3. Uh oh Lynette. Now you’re telling on yourself! lol! I understand the paper issue. I make piles. I might need those notes I”ve written later. Well, you just never know, do ya? But other than that, I am a neat freak. Fortunately hubby is the same way. But paper? Iy, yi, yi. Let’s not go there. 🙂

    1. Yup. Telling on myself. Not a neat freak at all. Fortunately? my hubby is the same way. Uh, not so fortunate. But hey, we understand each other. LOL. So appreciate your stopping by, Karen.

  4. I have to admit to being a bit of a neatfreak in the house generally, but the office where I write has so many piles of paper, books, and other stationary items … i can’t see much surface area to clean 🙂 OHO sounds so much nicer than OCD 😛

    1. Hi, Kim. I prefer for the rest of the house to be at least neat, if not dust free. 🙂 But the office??? LOL. I keep saying maybe someday, when I’m not holding down a full time job outside of the writing . . . . Maybe. 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by!

  5. OHO here, Lynette. That said, I have really downsized in these last four years so there are no bins of stuff and finally only one bookshelf on one wall. However, I am not a neat freak in any way and believe my home to be a comfortable one that is “lived in,” including the occasional stack of books and pile of papers. Great post. Enjoyed it.

  6. I love, love, love piles of stuff. It drives my very neat husband a little crazy sometimes. Every so often I have to purge the piles. What’s worse is when he purges the piles, because then I can’t find anything. 🙂

    1. Ha, ha! I’m the neater of the two of us at our house (an you know that’s not neat) and I’m not allowed to touch anything in his office.

      Thanks for the OHO support, Diana. 🙂

  7. Well that’s my desk (and my cat), so I guess my secret’s out! It would help if the desk weren’t the clearing centre for every piece of paper in the entire house. And if I could master the knack of working on one project at a time, instead of three or four. And the dust, well… I just finished dusting for the first time in probably eight months, and that’s only because my soon-to-be-arriving company has allergies!

    1. LOL! You and me both, Lindsey! Anything more than the bare minimum of housework is way low on my priority list. Yikes, company? It would take a month or two for me to get this place into any semblance of presentable. Thanks for reading!

    1. “Horizontal space disease” I LOVE IT! LOL. Yup, I’m afflicted. Glad to see I’m not the only one. Thanks, Gretchen!

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