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 . . .
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 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).
And books. They’re paper, too.
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.)