What's Your Clutter Personality?

Target your household's clutter problem by going to the root of the problem: your own thinking.

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The Perfectionist: “Next Week, I’ll Organize Everything ... Perfectly.”

Perfectionists are wonderful people, but they live in an all-or-nothing world. They do wonderful things, when they do them! Perfectionism forms an inner barrier to cutting clutter because the perfectionist simply cannot abide doing a less-than-perfect job. Without the time to give 110 percent to the project, the perfectionist clutterer prefers to let matters and the piles of stuff slide.

Perfectionist clutterers need to remind themselves of the 20–80 rule: 20 percent of every job takes care of 80 percent of the problem, while fixing the remaining 20 percent will gobble 80 percent of the job. By giving themselves permission to do only 20 percent, perfectionist clutterers get off the dime and get going. It is perfectly fine to tell the inner perfectionist, “Today, I’ll do the important 20 percent of that job: sorting, stacking and organizing those food containers. Later, I’ll do the other 80 percent, buying organizers and putting down shelf paper.” If later never comes? Well, you’ve outwitted your inner perfectionist clutterer ... congratulations!

Dish Stacking in the KitchenEnlarge Photo+Shrink Photo-DK - House Works © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

The Sentimentalist: “Oh, the Little Darling!”

Sentimentalists never met a memento they didn’t like or want to keep. Children’s clothing and school papers, faded greeting cards, souvenirs from long-ago trips,and jumbled keepsakes crowd the environment of the sentimental clutterer. Problem is, there’s so much to remember that the truly endearing items get lost in a flood.

The sentimental clutterer needs to reduce the mass of mementos to a more portable state, changing his or her mindset from an indiscriminate “Awwww!” to a more selective stance. Remember, what’s important to the sentimental heart are the memories and emotions. So, for example, a sentimental clutterer can corral each child’s school papers into a single box by selecting one best drawing, theme, or project each month; everything else goes in the trash can.

Other ideas for reining in rampant sentimental clutter include scrapbooking the very best photos and papers, or photographing surplus sentimental clutter before letting it go. Sort it out, choose the best, keep the memories and dump the rest!

Sentimentalists Encouraged to Declutter their LifeEnlarge Photo+Shrink Photo-DK - House Works © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited
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Excerpted from Houseworks, by Cynthia Townley Ewer

Text Copyright © 2006, 2010, Cynthia Townley Ewer, extracts from Houseworks, reproduced with permission from Dorling Kindersley Limited

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