COMPULSIVE shoppers can seek help for a January clear-out courtesy of the world’s first app dedicated to thwarting hoarding.
A team of Edinburgh Napier University graduates has created Life-Pod, an app that acts like a journal and asks the user questions when they buy something such as when they will use it and how many of the same item they already own.
It encourages users to set goals and to establish what triggers they need to make purchases – whether it is to de-stress after a hard day at work or because they cannot find what they are looking for at home as there is too much clutter already.
The designers of the app – named after a Capital-based firm offering expert advice and practical support to those affected by hoarding disorders – had been challenged to create the tool by Linda Fay, the UK’s only certified chronic disorganisation specialist.
The four-strong team underwent a lengthy design phase to make sure the app was clear and concise before creating a prototype.
Lara Findlay, 24, director and project manager, said: “One big aspect of hoarding is when people keep buying things that they don’t need.
“It’s really to help people at the moment they are about to buy something and they are asked a few questions about whether they actually need to buy that item.”
The festive period can be particularly difficult for hoarders as the pressure to buy extra goods is so high, said Ms Fay, director of Bruntsfield-based firm Life-Pod.
She said: “People who continuously acquire do it all year round but for people who just about keep a handle on it then Christmas may make it much more difficult.
“What I do mainly is to help people to reduce their clutter and reorganise it but as much as I may try to help people to get rid of the stuff, I also need to help them stop buying things in the first place.”
As Scotland’s only certified counsellor specialising in helping people with compulsive hoarding disorder, Ms Fay has helped people whose homes are stuffed to the rafters with piles of papers, books and other junk.
There are many complex causes for this behaviour, she said, including an inability to let go after trauma or loss or loneliness.
She said: “For some people when they are standing in a shop and looking at what to buy it can feel like a life and death decision.
“We try to get them to work through that and rationalise their thought process.”
It is not only compulsive hoarders who might benefit from the app but anyone who is tends to shop too much or needs help curbing their spending.
Ms Fay added: “I have tried it with a few of my clients already who say it is a really useful tool for them.”
The app, which was launched in November, is now available for purchase on Apple and Android devices.