Geralin Thomas is the author of the new books Decluttering Your Home: Tips, Techniques, & Trade Secrets, and From Hoarding to Hope: Understanding People Who Hoard and How to Help Them. She is the founder of Metropolitan Organizing, based in the Raleigh, North Carolina, area.
Q: What is the definition of hoarding disorder?
A: Signs and symptoms may include:
*Persistent inability to part with any possession, regardless of value.
*Excessive attachment to possessions; discomfort letting an item go.
*Cluttered living spaces, making areas of the home unusable for the intended purpose, such as not being able to cook in the kitchen or using the bathroom to bathe.
*Shame or embarrassment about living conditions.
Q: For someone trying to declutter their home, what is a good first step that doesn't seem overwhelming?
A: A few ideas include:
*Try keeping one area clutter free for a day/week/month.
*Try NOT accumulating anything for a day/week/month.
*Gather the obviously unloved, unused stuff first and let it go. (Wire hangers from the dry cleaner for example)
Q: You write about the feelings of shame some people experience about their cluttered homes. How do you help people overcome these emotions?
A: As an organizer, I’m not qualified to help people deal with their emotional issues. Instead I help them focus on the physical components of clutter and refer them to a licensed medical professional for the emotional challenges.
Q: What do you advise people who are collectors? At what point does collecting become unmanageable?
A: Collections should fit the space they’re being kept in. In other words, when a collector is out of space, no longer enjoying showing off or admiring their objects, it’s time to re-evaluate their possessions.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I’m currently working on a third book about time management.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb