"Beating compulsive hoarding requires you to face things that are very scary," Dr. Tolin says. "I can't tell you not to be scared, because you can't really control that. But you can be brave. Be willing to face your fears. Be willing to risk making the wrong decision. The people who gain the most are usually the people who are willing to risk the most."
8. Understand what you're afraid of, and recognize when your fears are irrational.
"Ask yourself: What's the worst that can happen if I throw this out? And how bad would that really be? If you're not sure whether your fear is irrational, try an experiment. Try making a specific prediction about what will happen if you discard an object. Then discard it, and really look to see whether that bad thing happened."
9. Be patient.
"No one is going to overcome compulsive hoarding overnight. This is a time-consuming process," Dr. Tolin says. "So people with hoarding problems, and their friends and family members too, need to focus on small victories. If you cleaned a room out, congratulate yourself, rather than get down on yourself for the rooms you haven't cleaned yet."
10. Keep the ball rolling.
Clean things as they come along, before they become overwhelming problems. "Once you've started, don't stop, even for a day," Dr. Tolin says. "If all you can do is five minutes a day, fine. But do it."
11. Be strict with yourself.
"When we were kids, our moms told us that we couldn't have dessert until we ate our veggies," Dr. Tolin says. "The same rule applies here. If you like watching TV, then promise yourself that you can only watch an hour of TV after you've cleaned for an hour."
12. Know when to ask for help.
"Compulsive hoarding is a potentially serious mental health issue," Dr. Tolin says. "Serious mental health issues require serious treatment. If you can do it on your own, great. But if you can't, get help from someone who is experienced in the treatment of compulsive hoarding."
Some of this information was adapted by Dr. David Tolin from Steketee & Frost (2003), Clinical Psychology Review, 23, 905-927.