The 4 Types of Clutterers: Which One Are You?

The first step to fixing your problem is identifying it. And if your problem is being disorganized, you need to know what type of clutterer you are to figure out the right solution. Expert organizer Peter Walsh, a speaker at the recent O You! Conference in Los Angeles, shared with the audience the main types of problem clutterers and what each should do to get organized.

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Behind-Closed-Doors Clutterer

Do you go to great lengths to hide your mess from visitors? For example, you stuff all your clutter in your spare bedroom and don't let anyone see it, so they are none the wiser? There are two types of people who do this: perfectionists and people who just don't think it's worth it to be organized. For the perfectionists, they think if they can't do it perfectly, they're not going to do it. The people who don't think it's worth the effort simply don't think it's a priority and it doesn't impact their life in a big way.

Solution: First, "get over yourself!" said the organization expert. Second, get a friend (wine optional) and make decluttering a fun activity. But don't ask someone in the family or who lives in the same house as you to help because that can cause tension, warns Walsh. Make sure you offer to go over to your friend's place the following week to declutter. Third, start small so that it's not overwhelming. Perhaps you can start by clearing out your bedside table or your bag.

Knowledge Clutterer

You have endless piles of magazines, books, and more. Don't beat yourself up over missing out on special tips, because Walsh jokes that there are only three original ideas in the world and magazines print them over and over again. Sooner or later, you'll come across the same information again.

Solution: Walsh only keeps two back issues of a magazine, and if he decides to keep a new issue, he will throw away an old one so he will only have two copies of the magazine. As for books, if your shelf is full, make sure every time you buy a book, you give one book away. Decide which ones are important to you and keep those.

Sentimental Clutterer

You are the memory clutterer, and you love to hoard items that remind you of important people, events, or achievements in your past.

Solution: Shift your mind-set. Pick three or four treasures "that make your heart sing." Walsh only kept one thing from his father, his old war medals. Figure out what you want to keep and how to display it in your home. Then take photographs of all the rest and let them go.

Bargain Shopper Clutterer

A steal means something worth buying...right? You're probably a bargain clutterer if you think that way or when your life becomes about the "quantity of stuff versus quality of life."

Solution: The organizer recommends to look at the reasons behind your shopping frenzy — because there is one. Spend your time in a different and meaningful way such as involving yourself in a charity or taking up a hobby. And live by Walsh's rule: "If price is the best thing about something, you should not buy it."

Living a cluttered life can weigh you down emotionally and cause strife between you and others. Take steps to do away with the mess in your life for good, and not only will your physical surroundings be cleaner, but you will also feel cleaner mentally and emotionally.

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The 4 Types of Clutterers: Which One Are You?

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Guest's picture

After reading about all the different cluttering types, I'm definitely a sentimental clutterer. I wouldn't say that I have too many things that I've held on to, or would ever run the risk of becoming one of those people on hoarders, but I do have trouble throwing/giving things away because of what they mean to me, or having that "what if I need this in the future" voice holding me back.

Guest's picture

Really like "If price is the best thing about something, you should not buy it." Definitely going to keep that one in the front when shopping!

Guest's picture

While not exactly minimalists, we are the opposite of collector type clutterers. Closets are half occupied here, some drawers and shelves are empty.

Photographs (as in prints) can be just another form of clutter, especially if not artfully displayed. We purged dozens of photo albums a while ago by asking if the print was better than our memory and found less than a third were worth the effort to digitize.

And you can forget the bargain price invite to cluttering. We turn down free stuff all the time.

A few non-functional keepsakes have been carefully chosen for sentimental reasons. In our way of life, being is most significant, doing closely follows being and having is sparse by American standards and mostly dictated by the doing. Material goods tend to flow in and out of our lives; when function ends, so does possession.