Guaranteed Organization Tips for Teacher Hoarders

This post shares tips for teacher hoarders that are guaranteed to help you conquer the clutter and have a more organized classroom! When your classroom and life is more organized, you will be a happier teacher!

You can also grab this FREE printable checklist to help you declutter efficiently.

*This post contains affiliate links to Amazon for your convenience. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases, which do not cost any extra for you. Please see theΒ full disclosure here.*

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What is a Teacher Hoarder?

It seems that all teachers become packrats at some point in our teacher journey. Of course, we need to save items and supplies to help save money.

But how much is too much? When does saving turn into hoarding?

Hoarding–excessive and compulsive purchasing and saving items that have little to no value.

If you have stacks and stacks of papers or other supplies that are starting to collect a creepy layer of dust…then you might be a teacher hoarder!
If you have stacks and stacks of papers or other supplies that are starting to collect a creepy layer of dust…then you might be a teacher hoarder!

Can Hoarders Be Organized?

Since teachers DO need to collect and save certain supplies for STEM projects and classroom activities, is it possible to do this AND be organized?

Well, the answer to this is YES and NO.

If you are saving items temporarily with an organized system and a set date to use the items, then your “hoarding” is appropriate and CAN be organized.

But if you haven’t touched that pile of empty toilet paper rolls in over two years and don’t have a controlled space to hold all 200 of them–then your hoarding, clearly, CANNOT be organized.

Your teacher hoarding needs a firm touch of KonMari! #HelloMarieKondo

These tips for teacher hoarders will help you get rid of your clutter and become a happier teacher!

I tend to “hoard” magazines for my students. I bring them home during the summer for my son to read also. But I keep them contained in small baskets like THESE in front of my fireplace. This prevents them from getting out of control. Once the basket gets full, I donate old magazines to my local library or my dentist office.

Decluttering Tips for Teachers

So many teachers ask themselves these two questions when decluttering: “Should I keep this?” or “Will I use this?”

Both of these questions lead to more hoarding because we always convince ourselves that the answers are yes.

Instead of asking questions that create clutter, ask these types of questions:

  • Is this useful for my classroom learning this school year?
  • Am I going to use this item this semester or this school year?
  • Do I already have a system set up to organize this/these?
  • Can I easily get this item again at a later date when I may use it?

Here’s the major difference with these questions: they provide boundaries by including a plan and a date for use!

Knowing WHEN you are going to use your supplies and HOW or WHERE you are going to store them is a guaranteed tip to prevent unnecessary teacher hoarding.

Related Post: 7 Simple Organization Hacks for Teachers

I purchased these bulletin board storage bags in 2016 and I LOVE them! They are still going strong and help me tame the clutter of learning posters and bulletin board supplies. They hang easily with large command hooks. Putting them on the back of my closet doors helps free up space elsewhere. Anything that doesn’t fit gets donated or thrown out!

Cleaning Out Your Classroom or At-Home Teaching Space

For every item that does not have a set date for use and a comfy home in your classroom or virtual classroom, it’s time to purge!

If you have a long-term tendency to hoard, you should recruit an accountability partner to help you. Preferably someone who is not a teacher! She/He may be a hoarder like you!

Here are more tips for teacher hoarders who are cleaning out a classroom:

  • Scan paper items to create digital files and PDF’s that can be saved to external hard drives like my favorite LaCie drive. You can use your phone to scan with free scanner apps for smartphones.
  • Take pictures of student gifts, artwork, crafts, and letters and upload the pics to a digital photo album. These allow you to enjoy the memories without the clutter!
  • Follow the 2-inch rule with paper piles–if the stack of papers is higher than 2 inches, then it’s time to purge! This includes stacks of papers in file folders too.
  • Set up homes and systems in your classroom for all your supplies and teaching materials. This post HERE walks you through simple organization hacks perfect for this tip!

These sterile containers hold my teacher supplies on my back porch. I only allow myself to store items here, mostly for teacher prep that I do at home AND for my online teaching work. If it won’t fit neatly in these containers, I throw it out or donate it.

Cleaning Out Your Home

Most teacher hoarders don’t just collect stuff in their classrooms! Many of us have storage units, closets, and other spaces outside of the classroom full of our junk precious teacher supplies.

This is especially true for virtual teachers who work from home. (Here’s looking at you 2020!)

To keep your teacher piles from taking over your home and life, follow these tips to declutter in your home:

  • Get an accountability partner or family member at home to help you set realistic boundaries on how many teacher supplies you can have at home.
  • Have a SMALL designated area to store teacher supplies at home. If you get a huge storage space, you will fill it up with stuff! A smaller space forces you to be intentional about what you keep.
  • Use only ONE container to bring classroom papers home. Do not bring anymore items home until the original papers are dealt with and/or returned back to school.

Related Post: 35 Things You Can Throw Away From Your Classroom

You can prevent teacher hoarding of papers by bringing home only ONE container. I got this Office Depot brand container HERE because it uses any brand file folders. No new papers are added until all of these files are dealt with. It also helps to give yourself a deadline to go through the papers/workbooks contained.

Help for True Compulsive Hoarding

There’s a big difference between being disorganized and being an obsessive hoarder.

Hoarding is a true condition that thousands of people suffer from. I do not refer to teachers as hoarders as a way to make fun of anyone who struggles with uncontrolled hoarding.

If you become emotionally enraged or feel completely stuck in your decision making about decluttering, you may need more than just the tips listed in this post.

Here are other resources that offer help for true compulsive hoarding.

FREE Decluttering Checklist for Teachers

Still not sure about what to throw out? Want more guaranteed tips to overcome your teacher hoarding habits? Grab this FREE decluttering checklist to get and stay organized!

No email required to download this freebie, but as always, I’d love to have you join our teacher community as an email subscriber!


Do you have an organization area that is the hardest for you to conquer? Share it in the comments below!

The Butterfly Teacher

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