If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it is: "clutter happens." Recently, I learned that there’s a psychology behind all of my mess and clutter. There’s also a cost—in CASH. Read on to identify your style of clutter and what you can do to resolve it.

How your clutter costs you cash

Oh yes—not only is clutter, well—messy, but did you know it also costs you hard-earned cash?

  • It’s estimated we lose 15-20% of our annual budget because we procrastinate and avoid making decisions about the way we live and function (for more see Psychology Today).

Let's just say your annual budget is $30,000. 15% of that is $4,500. Yikes!

10 Styles of clutter and what your type can teach you

Which style defines you? (for more see Cosmopolitan).

1. Piles of clutter

Your casa looks like the Standing Stones at Loch Ness—small piles in odd places that seem to mean something, but no one (including you) can figure out exactly what.

  • Your problem: You intimidate yourself into procrastinating. The more piles there are, the more intimidated you feel, and the longer you procrastinate.
  • Your organizing solution: Give each pile a name. For example, "spouse conflict," "want another baby," "get out of debt," etc. By understanding why things pile up, you can begin working to resolve the issues each pile represents…and the piles themselves.

2. Secretive clutter

You really need to see that you have it all together…on the surface, your house is neat as a pin. But all you have to do is open a closet to find the clutter.

  • Your problem: You have trouble asking for help and feel like you must do it all.
  • Your organizing solution: Pick one area where you will challenge yourself to ask for help. Perhaps start with a cleaning service!

3. Front door clutter

You can't help it. The sight of your own front door ignites your inner pigpen, and you begin dumping and dropping as soon as you cross the threshold.

  • Your problem: You’re not just tired—you’re EXHAUSTED, and you can't unwind fast enough once you get home.
  • Your organizing solution: A doorway organization rack—coat on this hook, keys hang there, shoes placed here…bring the organization to where you are. 

4. It's everywhere clutter

Depending on who is looking, your house is either a treasure hunt or a trash haven.

  • Your problem: To you, everything is important, or nothing is important. This speaks to a creative, big picture type of thinker who sees chaos as interesting ideas-in-progress.
  • Your organizing solution: Allow the clutter to be present while you’re immersed in a creative project. But when your project concludes, so does the clutter. 

5. What clutter?

The FBI could come in with a search warrant, and they would find no trace of any alleged clutter. That’s because there is none. 

  • Your problem: Perfectionism—and not just for yourself. No one in your household rests until everything is spotless.
  • Your organizing solution: Unless you live alone, you’re probably not the only one in your household who feels too tightly wound by your perfectionism. Give yourself permission to ease up—challenge yourself by designating a "junk drawer" or closet, and go from there.

6. Sometimes clutter

Your clutter runs in cycles. Perhaps it escalates as you approach deadlines. Or maybe it only appears when there’s conflict somewhere else in your life.

  • Your problem: Your problems or stressors in other areas of life spill over into clutter.
  • Your organizing solution: When you feel flummoxed or anxious, CLEAN! I do this often—it’s a great way to clear my head and often solutions will come while I'm scrubbing away.

7. Dirt + clutter

Cleanliness is not an issue in your house, because there isn't any. Rather, you peacefully coexist with the clutter, the dust, and the germs.

  • Your problem: You could be exhausted. But chances are, you just don't really care.
  • Your organizing solution: If circumstances dictate that cleanliness is a necessity, best to hire a maid.

8. On-the-move clutter

Somehow, your clutter has developed its own migratory routes as it moves from room to room.

  • Your problem: You have trouble finishing each task before starting the next.
  • Your organizing solution: Write down each project you’re working on and post it in a highly visible place. This way, when you have time, you can complete an active project instead of flinging yourself into yet another new one.

9. Hoarder clutter

Your clutter issues may not match up to the extreme TV cases, but inside you feel a strange sense of kinship. After all, what if you need it (whatever-it-is) some day?

  • Your problem: You struggle to make decisions, for fear they’ll be wrong.
  • Your organizing solution: Ask a friend for moral support as you clean and clear. If you pick something up and realize you’re ONLY keeping it "just in case," donate it, sell it, or ditch it.

10. On-the-border clutter

Your clutter is just a passport away from border-jumping as it grows around the edges of each room.

  • Your problem: You’re crunched for time, but you need a neat space to live and work in.
  • Your organizing solution: Make a rule for yourself—if you take it out, you must put it back. Remind yourself that putting things back after you use them actually SAVES you more time than it takes.