Reclaiming Your Laundry Room Zone

Laundry zones get a lot of heavy usage. They can be large or small and can be located in many places in homes. Some older homes have laundry zones in the basement. I remember my mother’s was in the basement and even had a laundry chute where clothes could be dropped from either the main level or upper level of the house and end up in the basket in the basement. ( I believe a cat or two also got a laundry chute ride.) Some are at the top of the stairs behind folding doors. I’ve seen them in closets off hallways or next to the closet in a master bedroom. Mine is a small storage room/laundry zone off the kitchen. What you don’t want to see is mounds of clothes migrating into adjoining areas. 

Keeping up with the laundry becomes less of a chore with a well organized space and a plan for keeping on top of the never-ending influx of dirty clothes. The idea is to keep the laundry moving. Only bring to the laundry zone, the items you intend to wash right away. Leave everything else in the designated dirty clothes hampers. As soon as the tub is washed, get it in the dryer or drying rack. And as soon as clothes are dry, get them back to their “home”. Delegate putting items away to the family member who owns the items. Even young children can sort and put clothes away. If an item needs repair or ironing, have a designated place to store those items and then schedule a time to do that task. You really don’t want your holiday table cloth in the ironing bin in August. 

A stack of colored laundry baskets is a handy way to sort clean clothes for each member of the family and one for the bath/bed linens. When laundry is taken out of the dryer and folded, immediately put it in the correct basket. Each family member can pick up their baskets, put their clothes away, and return the basket. 

Maximize your area by installing shelves or using over the door storage. You’ll want your laundry soap, dryer sheets, stain removers, sponges, and scrubbing brushes near your washer. If you buy your detergent in large containers, transfer some into smaller containers that are easier to handle and will less likely be spilled. Post a stain-removal chart on the wall. Make sure your area is well lit.

Have a container handy for tossing in items you find in pockets or loose buttons. If possible, have your ironing board, iron, and water spray bottles in this location.

It’s wonderful if you have counter space to fold clothes but if you don’t, you can use a table in a nearby room as long as you remove the clothes right after folding them. A bar or  bracket to hang hangers for shirts taken out of the dryer in useful. It does not have to be large but just enough to hold what would come out of one load (because, of course, you are going to immediately put them away ;-} )

Whether you do laundry daily or once a week, have a planned time scheduled to handle it. That keeps laundry from accumulating in heaps around the laundry zone.

Having this zone organized  may not make you love to do laundry but it certainly will make it less of a chore. 

Are You Ready for Back to School?

It seems impossible that summer break is over and that school starts next week here in Georgia. Even though the thermometer outside is reading in the 90’s, make a plan for your budding students to transition from vacation mode into school mode. 

  1. Set the stage for a great experience. 
    •  Keep a positive attitude. Don’t express any worry or doubt you might have about the upcoming year (I know that third grade is tough)but play up the positives (I understand they are teaching a unit on space study this year).
    • Take away the fear of the unknown. If your child is going to a new school, visit it ahead of time. Go to the orientation meetings. Find out schedules and teachers’ names and talk it up in positive terms.
    • Teach by example. Let your child see you enjoy reading, learning, and enjoying new experiences like art exhibits, concerts, or museums.
    • Allow time for morning routines. Plan for extra time in the mornings to get ready. This is easier if bedtime is also earlier.
    • Encourage your child to be self-sufficient. Have him do chores at home, develop checklists, have him prepare his clothes and backpack before going to bed.
  2. Develop good study habits.
    • Set aside a designated study area. This can be in his room, or in the kitchen or dining area. Just keep it consistent. 
    • Plan the best times for schoolwork. Know your child’s peak times for best work and his schedule.
    • Use a calendar. Have one visible to show special activities, appointments, and study times.
    • Chunk up big projects. By breaking down the big projects into smaller parts, the project is not some overwhelming and your student can say “done” more often. 
  3. Organize school materials.
    • Obtain and use a planner. In the beginning check the planner with your student every evening and morning. Then encourage your child to do this on his own.
    • Synch the planner with the calendar. 
    • Organize notebooks, folders, and binders. Have a home for each item so they are easy to use and find. Color coding for different subjects helps.
    • Organize and minimize study supplies. Containerize them so that they are easy to carry to school and use at home. Check the school supply list. Avoid buying “fun” items that are a distraction.
    • Choose the best backpack for your child. Check if the school has any restrictions before buying. Keep in mind what he will be carrying each day.
    • Set up home files. Keep in a file all returned and graded school papers until grades come out. If the grade lines up with what you have, then purge most of the papers only keeping ones that show growth and creativity. 
  4. Individualize study to suit your child.
    • Know your child’s learning style. Is he a visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learner? Use his strengths to help him learn new material.
    • Make learning real. Use new skills in real life settings. Use math to shop or cook. Use reading to follow directions or enjoy a funny story. Use writing skills to make lists or write a letter.
    • Set up the best study environment for your child. Discover if he works best alone or with others around. Does he work best in a quiet atmosphere or one with background noise.

Just for fun, start a “back to school” family tradition. Have a cookout before the first day of school or have a trip to a favorite restaurant or ice cream shop. Talk about the fun and excitement of the upcoming school year. Have a surprise wrapped up for the children to open when they come home from school on the first day.

Let this school year be the best and most productive ever!

Interview Series: Hoarding Expert: Sherry Pruitt

Over the next few months, we will be interviewing professionals who work with the hoarding population. We are asking them to share their insight on people who hoard and people who think they have the hoarding disorder.

Recently, we interviewed Sheryl K. Pruitt, M.Ed., ET/P. Ms. Pruitt is the Clinical Director of Parkaire Consultants in Atlanta, Georgia. She founded this clinic to serve neurologically impaired individuals. Ms. Pruitt is an author and speaker who educates children, adolescents and adults about neurological disorders and the coping skills needed to remediate deficit areas caused by these disorders. She speaks locally, nationally, and internationally on neurological disorders.

In the interest of full disclosure, Diane is a consultant at Parkaire Consultants as the professional organizer to whom the other consultants refer.

Questions & Responses:

If you are working with someone with the hoarding tendencies, do you or a designated professional go to the home?

I do not go to the home but we refer to Diane who does go to the home.

If not, how do you verify the level of the hoard?

I use Randy Frost’s Clutter Image Rating Scale. I find that to be very reliable and helps us know when to refer.

What percentage of the people you see at Parkaire Consultants do you suspect of having hoarding tendencies?

About half of the people we see with OCD and Executive Dysfunction here at Parkaire probably have some hoarding tendencies.

What are common co-occurring disorders that you find with the Hoarding Disorder? OCD, ADHD, SAD, GAD, MDD?

Hoarding used to be considered a sub-set of OCD – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. That is often accompanied with ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and problems with Executive Functioning skills. All of these are genetic, neurological disorders.

People who hoard often have a type of OCD which I refer to as the ‘Moral Policeman’ or “Just Right” OCD. Something is either right or it’s wrong. There is no in-between. They can get stuck not knowing the right thing to do. What is the right way to dispose of something or the right place to put something? When they don’t have a definitive answer, they do nothing which adds to the piles of things.

They can also have Tourette Syndrome (TS). The TS portrayed on television is only about 3% of the TS population. Usually it is evidenced as least two muscle tics and at least one vocal tic that have been present at anytime for more than twelve months.

Other common co-morbid disorders are other anxiety disorders as well as mood disorders such as Major Depressive Disorder and Bipolar Disorder.

We also see social, learning and memory problems in this population.

How do you treat hoarding problems?

Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy (ERPT) and other therapies are used for the co-morbids and our hoarding specialist directs the intervention for the hoarding. We also refer to a psychiatrist for the appropriate treatment of some of the co-morbid disorders.

What do you think about support groups like Clutterers Anonymous or Overcoming Hoarding Together?

Groups like these are great because they demonstrate to the participants in the group that they are not alone. Sure, everyone has their own story but there are similarities. Participants in the group can empathize in ways that people who are not living in such devastating circumstances cannot.

Do you think online support groups like the Facebook Clutter-Hoarding Support Group are beneficial?

Yes. For the same reasons as I just gave. Of course, in an online group you can remain somewhat anonymous. You are, therefore, not as vulnerable as when you attend an in-person support group and it might be a good option.

Thank you very much for this fabulous time spent together learning more about the work you do.

If you are or if you know a professional who works with people with hoarding tendencies, please feel free to get in touch with us. We’d love the opportunity to talk with you, too!

Diane N. Quintana is a Certified Professional Organizer, Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization, ICD Master Trainer and owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC based in Atlanta, Georgia. Diane teaches busy people how to become organized and provides them with strategies and solutions for maintaining order in their lives. She specializes in residential and home-office organizing and in working with people challenged by ADD, Hoarding, and Chronic Disorganization.

Jonda S. Beattie is a Professional Organizer and owner of Time Space Organization based in the Metro-Atlanta area. As presenter, author of three books as well as a retired special education teacher, she uses her listening skills, problem solving skills, knowledge of different learning techniques, ADHD specialty, and paper management skills to help clients tackle the toughest organizational issues. Jonda does hands on organizing, virtual organizing, and moderates a Zone Plan Teleclass for those who prefer to work on their own with organizational coaching.

 

Interview Series: Hoarding Expert; Dr. Roberto Olivardia

Over the next few months, we will be interviewing professionals who work with the hoarding population. We are asking them to share their insight on people who hoard and people who think they have the hoarding disorder.

We recently interviewed Dr. Roberto Olivardia. Dr. Olivardia is a Clinical Psychologist, Lecturer in Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Clinical Associate at McLean Hospital. He maintains a private psychotherapy practice in Lexington, Massachusetts. He is co-author of The Adonis Complex, dealing with various manifestations of male body image issues. He has appeared in publications such as TIME, GQ, and Rolling Stone, and has been featured on Good Morning America, CNN, and VH1. His blog, “Psychology in Sync” is featured on the Psychology Today website

We are looking forward to his presentation, Obsessed and Distracted and Impulsive, OH MY!: Helping Clients with ADHD and /or OCD at The Institute for Challenging Disorganization conference (ICD) in Orlando this September.

Questions & Responses:

Since the DSM-5 was published, have you diagnosed anyone with the hoarding disorder?

Yes, but not a huge amount. I am working with a couple of cases now.

If you are working with someone with hoarding tendencies, do you or a designated professional go into the home?

Some I do. I used to do a lot more home based, especially working with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), but now we depend more on Skype.

Do people accurately report the severity of their hoard?

In my eyes, people vastly underestimate. But if they say, “I’m a hoarder,” then yes, they are usually right. Quite often a family member will call in expressing concern for their loved one who hoards. When the family calls, we look at it more closely.

How do you treat hoarding problems?

When possible, we have the person bring samples of what they hoard into the office to go through. For example, if the hoarding situation deals with papers and files, we have the clients come into the office with the items and we go through it. One client had boxes and boxes of clippings. None were related in any way to him – just informative pieces – which as you know you can now access easily on the internet.

What common comorbidity issues do you find?

I see specifically OCD and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Most common in ADHD are severe executive functioning deficits. They are looking for the most perfect organizational systems which they don’t find so they can’t organize.

We also see Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD). Someone with OCPD is often very rigid. They have a hard time making decisions because, for them, there is a right way and a wrong way. These are individuals that others might refer to as being “anal” . They feel they are right about how they are doing something and can’t budge. For example, an OCD person fears throwing something away because they might need it while an OCPD person won’t throw something away because it not the right thing to do and may actually think you are wrong and immoral if you throw that same thing away of yours.

We also see Depression, Bi-Polar Disorder, and a history of trauma, including emotional abuse, neglect or loss. With trauma we see emotional abuse and emotional neglect or loss. I had one client who had both of his parents take their lives at an early age and his hoarding was based on this trauma.

Do you feel that once you get one issue taken care of, then the hoarding is easier to work with?

Yes, although it depends on each situation. Unresolved trauma and loss – if you process that first then it is easier to let go of items. One client was hanging on to an old, broken clock. It was not a valuable clock but for him it was a memory and he stated that he wouldn’t have any more memories so this one was important to hold on to.

One client with ADHD was also an impulsive spender. We had to deal with how much he was spending before we could deal with what was already in the house.

Another client had enough flatware and dishes for 40 people and lived alone. But he hated washing dishes and silverware and only wanted to do them once a month. He also spent a lot of money on clothing because he hated to do laundry. He tried to do the same with food as he hated grocery shopping, but he couldn’t maintain it because when he bought a month’s supply of food some would go bad. These treatments are different from treating Bi-polar Disorder or psychosis.

What do you think about task forces like the one in San Francisco?

Task Forces are great. Anything that brings awareness to the challenges faced by those who hoard is very positive. After all, studies show that 3 – 4% of the population has hoarding problems. For people who are local to the Boston area, I refer them to Boston University. Gail Steketee does amazing work there.

What was your most difficult hoarding situation?

I work primarily with eating disorders in men. I had a client who would binge on food and then vomit. It was a hoarding problem because he then kept his vomit in jars. The jars let him know that he had gotten rid of the food he had binged on. He became quite ill. The good news is that with treatment, his bulimia was resolved. He also hoarded food because he was afraid others might eat it. This caused problems with rot and with bugs.

This was a very layered treatment.

Can you share something you learned from experience?

Often one issue is a sign of other issues. If there is a food hoard, I try to find out where this problem comes from. I get into their own space and hear how they describe it. I wonder about the hoard – is it something the client is trying to work out or is it something he is using to avoid working something else out. This shows that as human beings we don’t all work through issues the same way. Everyone has a story.

Are groups like Clutterers Anonymous or Overcoming Hoarding Together helpful?

I have found that they are helpful. Participating in these groups helps people eliminate a lot of shame. Some go to support groups and some participate online. They might hear someone’s hoarding story and extract pieces that they can relate to. They may find some common core.

Do you have a shareable list of resources for people challenged by hoarding or their families?

The Boston University Hoarding Research Project has good information and pamphlets.

The International OCD Foundation hoarding link has information for both those who hoard and their families.

Professional Organizers who have experience in the area of hoarding are a good resource.

There are books to recommend for hoarders and for their families.

 

Thank you very much for this fabulous time spent together learning more about the work you do.

If you are or if you know a professional who works with people with hoarding tendencies, please feel free to get in touch with us. We’d love the opportunity to talk with you, too!

Be sure to check back with us to see who we interview next in this series!

Diane N. Quintana is a Certified Professional Organizer, Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization, ICD Master Trainer and owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC based in Atlanta, Georgia. Diane teaches busy people how to become organized and provides them with strategies and solutions for maintaining order in their lives. She specializes in residential and home-office organizing and in working with people challenged by ADD, Hoarding, and Chronic Disorganization.

Jonda S. Beattie is a Professional Organizer and owner of Time Space Organization based in the Metro-Atlanta area. As presenter, author of three books as well as a retired special education teacher, she uses her listening skills, problem solving skills, knowledge of different learning techniques, ADHD specialty, and paper management skills to help clients tackle the toughest organizational issues. Jonda does hands on organizing, virtual organizing, and moderates a Zone Plan Teleclass for those who prefer to work on their own with organizational coaching.

Priorities

 

 

Stephen Covey said it so well ~ “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”

We are multi-faceted beings. There are so many moving parts to our lives. We get up in the mornings and take care of our personal hygiene, prepare food, and take care of our home environment. 

We have our work to attend to if it’s running our business, going off to a job, or taking care of our family.

We need to take care of our health. This might involve preparing and eating healthy food, getting exercise, or going to bed at a reasonable hour. 

We have our personal relationships to nourish. It’s so important to give time to our family – both those living in our home and our extended family. Friendships need to be fed and kept healthy. Going beyond our immediate circles and giving to the community is also important.

Our minds need nourishing. We may do that through reading, writing, or working on puzzles.

And we should take time for our spirituality. This might be through setting your intentions for the day, meditation, prayer, or being open to the unknown.

For me, it’s pretty difficult – no, impossible to focus on all of these areas each day. Some things are routines and really run on autopilot. Other days, I really focus in on one area. I may have a big work project that takes up most of my day. I may snack at my desk or on the job. I may not walk. I don’t really socialize. But I would never do this day after day.

Sometimes, family or health crisis takes over and work is set aside, and you just deal with what’s in your face. You go into a survival mode.

Other times you choose to highlight one part of your being because at this moment in time, it is the most important thing to you. So, for a few days this week, I am leaving my house and work behind (but not my husband) and going to visit my son, his wife, and my grandson in Virginia. I have been trying to accomplish this for several months and now it is scheduled. Yeah!

Interview Series: Hoarding Expert; Satwant Singh

Over the next few months, we will be interviewing professionals who work with the hoarding population. We are asking them to share their insight on people who hoard and people who think they have the hoarding disorder.

We recently interviewed Dr.Satwant Singh RN, MSc DPsych. Satwant is a Nurse Consultant, cognitive Behavioral Therapist and Mental Health and Clinical Lead. He facilitates the London Hoarding Treatment Group. He is accredited as a therapist, trainer, and supervisor by the British Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Psychotherapies. Satwant set up the first innovative primary care CBT service in East London in 2001. He provides teaching and training both nationally and internationally.

Questions & Responses

We saw on your website that you are part of the London Hoarding Treatment Group. Would you please tell us about it?

The London Hoarding Treatment Group began in 2005. It meets once a month and is open to individuals who are self-diagnosed with a hoarding problem. It is also open to other family members. The group often has people pop in from Australia and the Netherlands. This group has become a model for other peer run support groups.

This group is very creative because the people involved can critique their own photos. The London Hoarding Treatment Group was the basis for our book Overcoming Hoarding: A Self-Help Guide Using Cognitive Behavioral Techniques.

How is the treatment group set up?

The treatment group has a once a month meeting and everyone has a buddy or accountability partner. Sometimes the buddy can be ruthless with their critique but its OK because they are operating on the same playing field. The critique is accepted as helpful and not negative.

Do people accurately report the severity of their hoard?

No, they tend to overreport. They tend to say it’s “so awful.” Then I am happy to go in and say “No, it’s not so bad.”

How does the system work?

People bring in pictures of their home and they talk about the picture. They answer questions ie. How does this picture make you feel? How would you want it to be different? What impact has it had on your relationships?
The picture provides an emotional distance from the “stuff”. They can unpack the hoard by talking through the picture. These peer run support groups raise awareness for other professionals as well. 

What kind of funding do you have?

There is no funding, but my employer allows us to use his space for the meetings and I give my time.

Do you go into people’s homes to see the level of the hoard yourself?

Sometimes, if the home is nearby or convenient and I have been invited.

What tools do you use to determine the level of clutter in the home?

We use the Clutter Image Rating Scale and the pictures they bring in of their home. We also use the H.O.A.R.D. acronym tool. This tool has five questions.

 H. Tell me what HAPPENED in this picture.

O. What would you like to OVERCOME and what are your goals?

A. Can you imagine life without ALL of this stuff?

R. How is your life and RELATIONSHIPS affected by this problem.

D. What would you like to DO about it?

What advice would you give someone who is thinking of working with people challenged by the hoarding disorder?

Be aware that you are working with individuals that have a problem – not problem individuals.

Don’t use the word “hoarders”. Instead use words like “a person with clutter issues.” It becomes problematic if you don’t see the person but only the problem and this happens when the word “hoarder” is used. It’s important to treat the person with respect. Never ask the question “why?” because that implies judgement, but instead ask them to tell you the story and engage the person in conversation. There is not much training available. Instead of learning about dealing with the hoard, one needs to learn about how to build the relationship.

Do you have a shareable list of resources for people challenged by hoarding and their families?

Look into HoardingUK . They do a series of workshops in the UK that are open to people with hoarding issues and are also open to professionals. 

 Also, our book Overcoming Hoarding: A Self-Help Guide Using Cognitive Behavioral Techniques is written in a user-friendly way while based on cognitive therapy.

 

Thank you very much for this fabulous time spent together learning more about the work you do.

If you are or if you know a professional who works with people with hoarding tendencies, please feel free to get in touch with us. We’d love the opportunity to talk with you, too!

Please check back with us to see who we interview next!

Diane N. Quintana is a Certified Professional Organizer, Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization, ICD Master Trainer and owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC based in Atlanta, Georgia. Diane teaches busy people how to become organized and provides them with strategies and solutions for maintaining order in their lives. She specializes in residential and home-office organizing and in working with people challenged by ADD, Hoarding, and Chronic Disorganization.

Jonda S. Beattie is a Professional Organizer and owner of Time Space Organization based in the Metro-Atlanta area. As presenter, author of three books as well as a retired special education teacher, she uses her listening skills, problem solving skills, knowledge of different learning techniques, ADHD specialty, and paper management skills to help clients tackle the toughest organizational issues. Jonda does hands on organizing, virtual organizing, and moderates a Zone Plan Teleclass for those who prefer to work on their own with organizational coaching.

Organize Your Desk

If you spend as much time at your desk as I do, when it becomes a hot mess, so do you. At least once a year, I take time to reevaluate the way my desk is set up.

Start with the desktop. Remove everything and give it a good cleaning. Envision what you do at your desk. What objects do you use every day? Place these on your clean desk.

As an example, I have a rather small, traditional desk. This has its good points and bad. The desk fits well in my space and has drawers. This is good. The surface is small, and this can be frustrating. I use my computer (PC) every day. Because I have a kneehole with drawers on both sides, there is only one place the computer can sit. I have it connected and on a stand, so it is not easy to move around. I have a landline phone on my desk that sits on the wall side because of wires. I am right-handed so my mouse and coffee mug sit to the right. I also have a Time Timer that I use daily. I usually only have one pen out on my desk and I place it by the phone. I have a rather large desk lamp that takes up way too much space. This is really all I need. However, I also have a fresh flower, a picture of my grandson, and a small dish holding earbuds. I usually have one folder or project that I am working on and my calendar sitting on the desk while I work.

This arrangement is feeling crowded to me. I intend to have two recessed spotlights installed over my desk so the lamp can go. The picture of my grandson can go on the shelf behind the desk where I have some other pictures. The dish with the earbuds can slip into a drawer. I feel this will open up my space and be more calming.

Next, organize the drawers. Each drawer in the desk works best if it has a designated function. Empty each drawer and wipe it out. Determine what will be stored there. One drawer may hold supplies like pens, markers, a stapler, ruler, a pair of scissors, etc. Another drawer might have paper pads, sticky notes, your checkbook. Some drawers in my desk are for my home affairs and some are for my business. I like the way my drawers are set up, so the idea for me is just to get rid of any clutter that is not needed (I mean, who needs 6 pads of paper that have accumulated over the year from charities or 15 pens with black ink?). 

Now, use the desk for a while. Is it easier to maintain? How do you feel when working there? If there are still papers or clutter piling up, go back and re-evaluate. If all is well, enjoy!

The Importance of Ongoing Downsizing

 

 

I am continually downsizing. I’ve had a few life events where the downsizing was intense. The first one came after a divorce. My husband was a packrat and I was overwhelmed with stuff. When I moved out of the home, I basically only took what I needed to live. Then about 5 years ago, I remarried, and both my new husband and I had homes that while not overpacked or huge were full and of course, we had duplicates in housewares and lawn care items. We both recognize that less stuff in our homes makes for less work. So, again, I did a pretty big purge as did he.

Every year, I go through each part of my home and get rid of a bit more. I have earmarked a few things I think my children would like. I have made notes of any item that has a real monetary value, so they won’t have to guess. Recently, I have started going through family pictures and when I have both sons visiting, I go through a tub of them and ask what ones they would like to keep. Then I give the pictures to them on the spot. If they don’t want old family pictures, I now just let them go. I keep personal photographs of my trips and memories, but the boys know that when I pass, they can just get rid of them as they are my memories and not theirs.

My husband and I are also very careful about not buying what we don’t need. While I enjoy and love the items in our home, there is nothing I can think of that would devastate me if I lost it. We both like books but we keep our collection fluid. We pass on to others most of the books we buy. 

It is very freeing not to be tied down by our possessions.

I was recently forwarded a very good article by Jennifer Karami. After she helped move her grandmother into her retirement home, she wrote this for Redfin Real Estate Company.
https://www.redfin.com/blog/senior-guide-for-decluttering/.

I would love to hear about your downsizing experiences – both the wins and the struggles.

Interview Series: Hoarding Expert: Dr. David F. Tolin

Over the next few months, we will be interviewing professionals who work with the hoarding population. We are asking them to share their insight on people who hoard and people who think they have the hoarding disorder.

We recently interviewed Dr. David F. Tolin, Psychologist, PhD, ABPP. Dr. Tolin is an expert in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for anxiety, mood, and obsessive-compulsive and related disorders. He uses evidence-based practices for conditions such as hoarding and hoarding disorders. He is board certified in clinical psychology. He is the author of Buried in Treasures. He has been featured on the TV series “The OCD Project,” “Hoarders,” “The Dr. Oz Show,” and “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

Questions & Responses

Has your book, Buried in Treasures, been translated into other languages?

Yes. Buried in Treasures has been translated into Norwegian and Japanese and possibly other languages.

If you are working with someone with hoarding tendencies, do you or a designated professional go to the home?

We used to go into the home. Currently, we rarely go to a client’s home. When we were doing research, we had staff members go in to assess the severity of the clutter in the home.

If you do not go into the home, how do you know the condition of their home?

We use the Clutter/Image Rating Scale and have clients point to the picture which most closely resembles the level of clutter in their home.

Do you find that the clients report accurately?

Yes. If we do not ask a judgmental question regarding the level of clutter; such as ‘is your home very messy or cluttered’ because that could lead to an inaccurate assessment.

What are the most common comorbidity issues?

Major Depression Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity are the most common. Surprisingly, the incidence of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is not that high.

How do you treat hoarding problems?

We use Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. We ask patients to bring in a box or bag of clutter from their home and we talk about it. We also ask the patients to bring in photographs of their home. The patients share before and after pictures with the group. Everyone is very supportive of one another.

Do groups like Clutterers Anonymous or Overcoming Hoarding Together help patients?

These groups may be helpful. As of yet no research has been done to support this theory.

What are your thoughts on the Buried in Treasures support groups?

I’m in favor of these groups. Randy Frost is currently looking at the efficacy of these groups and feels that they may be as effective as therapy.

What do you think about task forces on Compulsive Hoarding – like one in San Francisco?

They are absolutely necessary. Social services agencies need to coordinate to be effective. I’m happy to see more task forces springing up around the country.

Would you like to add anything?

The defining characteristic of the hoarding disorder is an inability to let things go.

You have a list of resources on the back page of your book, are those still valid?

Yes. Some clients have found the following websites to be helpful:

www.ocdfoundation.org/hoarding
www.childrenofhoarders.com
www.napo.net
www.challengingdisorganization.org

Thank you very much for this fabulous time spent together learning more about the work you do.

If you are or if you know a professional who works with people with hoarding tendencies, please feel free to get in touch with us. We’d love the opportunity to talk with you, too!

Be sure to check back to see who we interview next in this series!

Diane N. Quintana is a Certified Professional Organizer, Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization, ICD Master Trainer and owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC based in Atlanta, Georgia. Diane teaches busy people how to become organized and provides them with strategies and solutions for maintaining order in their lives. She specializes in residential and home-office organizing and in working with people challenged by ADD, Hoarding, and Chronic Disorganization.

Jonda S. Beattie is a Professional Organizer and owner of Time Space Organization based in the Metro-Atlanta area. As presenter, author of three books as well as a retired special education teacher, she uses her listening skills, problem solving skills, knowledge of different learning techniques, ADHD specialty, and paper management skills to help clients tackle the toughest organizational issues. Jonda does hands on organizing, virtual organizing, and moderates a Zone Plan Teleclass for those who prefer to work on their own with organizational coaching.

Stress Free Project Planning

Many of us have several projects going on at one time or perhaps we are focusing in on one huge project. There is often a time that this project needs to be completed.

It’s not unusual for people to panic and feel stressed, especially as the due date is upon them. This does not have to be the case.

I recommend following these steps for completing a project nearly stress free:

  • Understand your motivation. Why is this project important now? Will it affect your job evaluation? Are family or friends counting on you?
  • Develop your vision. Picture the project completed. See yourself at the end of the job. How do you feel?
  • Brainstorm a list of all that must happen to make your vision come true. Write everything down as you think of it. No matter how grandiose or how small, put it all on the list. The list can be edited later.
  • Write out your goals. This will make it real. Have and end date as part of your goals. For example, “By June 27 I have made reservations for my visit to Virginia.”
  • Write down the time sequence everything that must be done to make the project complete. Then in your calendar plug in all the “do” dates. It is important that you give yourself some “wiggle room”. Don’t schedule so tightly that the project will be doomed if you miss one or two of these scheduled benchmark dates. Life happens and rarely if you are working on something big are you going to get everything to happen just as you planned. This is especially true if you are working with other people.
  • Celebrate and reward yourself for the project’s completion. Lock into your mind how good it feels to have this done and on time. The project might not be done perfectly but it is done on time and good enough.

Following these steps works for things as small as a summer party or as large as finishing a dissertation. For more information on how this works, buy my workbook, From Vision To Victory: A Workbook For Finding a Simple Path to an Organized Home.