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Yellowdog's avatar

How can I defeat my problem with procrastination and hording?

Asked by Yellowdog (11166points) March 11th, 2017

I am already taking medications that will supposedly help and even have a therapist. But overall, things just seem too hopeless and the job(s) seem too big and not worth the effort of getting started. I can’t seem to let go of anything and I procrastinate about any effort to move forward or accomplish anything.

As crazy as it sounds, the only reason I haven’t committed suicide or committed myself to a mental health facility is because several people depend on me. One more false move (I’ve made several) and everything is lost anyhow.

My parents have gotten old and set in their ways, are extremely negative and critical even of the few positive things that I have going. They cannot get around well and depend on me for transportation. I depend on them to fall back on financially because I haven’t been able to work or find suitable work since I was shot in a robbery several years ago.

About 75% of the stuff in their/my house probably needs to be gotten rid of. My stuff especially—I am wanting to move out and get a life with my girlfriend—whom my parents hate and have never even met (my mother liked her but didn’t know who she was). They do not even seem to realize that she will be the one I will spend the rest of my life with as we have been together over two years now.

Financially I can make it on my/our own even on disability but it will be very tight and uncomfortable financially. I really don’t even want to cut ties with my parents and their home but it may come to that, difficult as it may be. I can’t seem to let go of anything and cannot seem to make the first move to get forward or accomplish anything. A good start would be to throw a lot of things away and let go of so much of my past. That would keep me busy at least and give me a fresh start. But I cannot even begin the process. Its like I am paralyzed with inhibition and it all seems too overwhelming.

The only supportive people I have are the ones who depend on me and some who should be supportive are berating and very negative and thwarting.

I want to mention the element of time as well. Even though I am not working a job, time management seems to be a problem for me and there is very little I can do with the time I have, as everything takes more time than I have to commit to it.

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10 Answers

Yellowdog's avatar

Too late to edit but some addition’l information:

I was working in a college bookstore when I was shot in a robbery in late 2011. The process of getting disability was slow and I did not get on disability until 2015— I now CAN work many jobs but have limited use of my right arm/hand. My parents took me in at first and our house became very crowded. I was dependent on them at first, but now they are dependent on me due to their health issues and for transportation.

There is a LOT I need to throw away/get rid of before I can move again. Moving in with my GF, whom my parents will never accept, will mean closing the door on life with my mom and dad. I am not using THEM as an excuse to not move forward—their medical needs are dire and I feel I owe it to them since they helped me for several years.

My first step is probably throwing out a lot of stuff and getting ready to move but I am trying to hold onto it all because its my connection to my former life and some things I have this probably false sense that I will rebuild it all someday. I know I can’t but can’t seem to let go of anything. Its like a mental block.

elbanditoroso's avatar


You are clearly an intelligent person, educated, and well spoken. You are not stupid. What I am about to write is something you know, intellectually, but something you have not internalized.

This is all under your control. There is no magic incantation that any of us can say, nor is there any technique that we can splash on you. Frankly, I would liken your situation to that of a person who wants to stop drinking, but doesn’t know how. The answer, of course, is “don’t pick up the glass.”

Tonight. right now start making a list of four things you need do tomorrow to begin these tasks. Be granular. Don’t write “clean out garage” – that’s too big. Write “open five boxes and sort contents”.

The list should not be 100 lines long, that will overwhelm you. Start small. Start with four items on the list.

And then tomorrow morning – FORCE YOURSELF to get the first one done. Force yourself. Spend less time on Fluther and get the first one done. Make a point of crossing it off the list. That is psychologically helpful.

Then move on to the second thing on the list. And so on.

Tomorrow night, make a new list of the FIVE thinks you will do on Monday.

Don’t let yourself make up excuses about why not to do it – get started.

Even tell your GF – “I want to get these two things done by noon” and ask her to nag you to get them done.

This is all about training yourself. Only you can do it. Start small.

tedibear's avatar

To go with @elbanditoroso‘s excellent suggestions, try telling yourself this: “I can do anything for 15 minutes.” It doesn’t sound like much, but it will get you started.

Here’s an example that is far less dire than your situation. I used to whine internally about doing the dinner dishes. It was typically pots, pans, anything that couldn’t go in the dishwasher. Finally, I decided to see how long this chore really took and set a timer for 15 minutes. From running the water, cleaning the counters and stove top right through to draining the sink: nine minutes. The most I have ever had it go is 20 minutes for Thanksgiving dinner, which included china.

Please note that I’m not saying you’re whining! The whining was my issue, where yours seems to be that you feel overwhelmed.

Take good care and let us know how it goes.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

Give someone else the assignment to clean house.

I understand the difficulty of clinging to your stuff. I have clutter. A lot of clutter.

My ex was a hoarder. One weekend her friends gathered, sent her away for two days, and cleaned up.

It was one of the best moments of her life. She missed nothing. She could not throw away stuff herself, but afterwards she missed nothing.

gorillapaws's avatar

@elbanditoroso Has it exactly right. Divide and conquer. Break the task down in to small pieces and focus on completing small tasks one-by-one. I’m not sure how the weather is there, but it might be helpful to move the one box you’re going through outside so you’re away from the other clutter. It’s just you, the box you need to process and nothing else to distract/overwhelm you.

I’m not going to presume to know your mind, but when I hang on to things from my past, part of it is the fear that once it’s gone, I may loose the memory of the thing/person/event that the object represents to me. Maybe throughout the process you can do some journaling on your computer at night talking about the things you let go of that day and the memories from your past that it brought up. You’ll always have the journal files and they won’t take up any physical space. That way you can keep your past and memories alive, but without the clutter.

I hope that helps. Best wishes to you.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

@Yellowdog, I set myself five things a day I have to achieve. They’re not all big tasks, but they’re things I have prioritised for that day.

Can I suggest you start with three things a day. Get out three boxes you need to go through and do this each day. Sort the contents into keep, sell/give away, throw away. And get rid of the stuff you need to dump each day, and take the stuff you plan to give to the goodwill store to them each day. Put the stuff you plan to sell on ebay (or wherever you plan to sell things) on that day.

If three boxes is too much, make it two or even one. You will be amazed how quickly you make a dent in the stuff you have to organise.

Is there noone you can call on to help you? I know you said you had few support people who are nagging you. Can you have a barbecue one weekend and invite friends (including those who are berating you) and who you trust to come and help you get organised?

flutherother's avatar

My take on your situation is that you should tell your parents that you have a girlfriend and a life. Introduce your girlfriend to them. How they will react I don’t know as I don’t know what sort of people they are but I feel it is important you do this.

Coloma's avatar

You can’t. You are 50 something years old. At best you can modify your issues but you aren’t going to become some Johnny on the spot neat freak any more than I will ever become a hoarder. haha Just accept this is your cross to bear and take daily baby steps, that’s it.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

Sell your extra stuff online or in a yard sale .

augustlan's avatar

I agree with breaking things down into small tasks…even one drawer at a time will help. However, if you find that you just cannot do it, hire a professional organizer. They deal with hoarders all the time and will understand your issues and help you push past them.

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