Are you really a hoarder? You might just be chronically disorganized!!

So you think you are a hoarder. Everyone does these days. One little pile or a few things out of place doesn’t classify you in that category. Alot of people are confused between hoarding and being “chronically disorganized”. Yes, there is a difference. They should also be treated differently from an organizational standpoint as well.

Chronic Disorganization is defined as:

1. persistence of severe disorganization over a long period of time

2. history of failed self-help attempts

Hoarding is defined as:

1. aquisition  of and failure to discard a large number of possessions that appear to be useless or of limited value

2. living spaces sufficiently cluttered so as to preclude activities for which they were designed

3. significant distress or impairment in functioning caused by the hoarding

(Frost and Hartl, 1996 as cited in Stekeetee and Frost, 2007)

During my 8 years as a professional organizer, I have worked with quite a few hoarders and clients who are chronically disorganized. My clients who fall into the chronically disorganized are quite self aware and have tried many different systems to get organized.  Alot of the time its not the system but the failure to follow thr0ugh with it. Their space tends to be very cluttered but manageable on some levels. They tend to change systems quite a bit.

Some of the common characteristics of Chronically Disorganized include:

1. difficulity letting go

2. has lots of paper

3. multiple infinished projects

4. has many interests

A client who is a true hoarder has lost most of their functionality in their space. They have developed an overly obsessive nature about their belongings. Alot of the time, their family or friends reach out to get help for them. Helping a hoarder make changes, can be a slow process. You need to be very patient and make them feel comfortable with the process. I always ask them which area they are ready to start.

Remember…be gentle, be kind, and do no harm!!!


Some of the qualities of a Hoarder include:

1. compulsive aquistion-buying, trash picking

2. compulsive saving

3. severe clutter or hoarding takes over the entire living area

There is definately a physical difference between hoarding and chronic disorganization. While a person with CD might have alot of clutter, their space is still manageable to an extent.


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