Science tells us that our homes mirror our minds—a living room in disarray, for example, can cause cortisol levels to spike and leave us feeling unfocused. But I'd argue that one can take this logic a step further. The fact that my clutter exists isn't as much a reflection of my personality as the clutter itself. As such, shouldn't my spring-cleaning strategy speak to my individual hoarding tendencies? In other words, what's my clutter personality, and how can I work around it for my freshest space yet?
You might find yourself asking the same question, which is why we've ID'ed five common clutter types below. Are you an Instagram minimalist or a classic procrastinator? Keep scrolling to find out—and how to conquer it once and for all.
Identifying characteristics: Can often be heard saying things like "But this will be back in style at some point!" or "I'll definitely find a place for this piece in my next apartment." Meanwhile, there's a high probability of unearthing said items from a long-lost corner of the closet when moving three years later.
Action plan: It's never fun to part with something you've spent money on or received as a nice gift, but if you're not committed to wearing it or putting it on display today, then it's probably time to toss it. And if you're still unsure, even after showing yourself some tough love, then it might be time to dig deeper. "It's important to do your own inquiry of what you're really hanging on to," says organising expert and author Tisha Morris. "Often, it's really just a clever cover excuse of not wanting to let go of an old identity or feel emotions from the past that need to release."
The Instagram Minimalist
Identifying characteristics: Impeccably curated vignettes on social media. Not pictured: the chair with a week's worth of clothes piled on top of it.
Action plan: Instead of leaning on an MO of Instagram vs. reality, make an effort to make your IG feed your reality (or better yet, meet yourself somewhere in the middle, because #authenticity!). Pro tip: Set a timer for 15 minutes each night to blitz through your space and clear out any visible clutter. Not only will your home feel fresh on a daily basis, but you also won't need to spend time staging a corner for the 'gram.
The "I'll Never Let Go, Jack"
Identifying characteristics: Ticket stubs, seashells, your original cassette of the Backstreet Boys' self-titled debut album from 1997… You keep it all because who doesn't love reliving concerts, vacations, and an 8-year-old's conviction that she may have just stumbled upon the best boy band of all time?
Action plan: Say it with us: Let go. Rose did it in the literal sense, even though there was most definitely room on that door for Jack. And yet, she still held onto the memory of him, even though he wasn't physically there anymore! For 84 years! Her heart went on! And that, dear friends, is your metaphor: You're not tossing out your memories when you toss out the stuff you associate with those memories. So barring a select few items with unrivaled sentimental value, clear it all out.
Identifying characteristics: Really good at planning elaborate home projects that never seem to come to fruition. Even better at falling asleep on top of the pile of clean laundry sitting on your bed.
Action plan: For daily clutter, see our advice under "Instagram minimalist" above. As for those home projects, if you haven't gotten around to it, chances are you aren't that invested in making it happen. It's decision time: Ditch the half-assed plans (and all associated items) and give yourself a hard-and-fast deadline for the ones you really care about. Prioritize those that might help clear out additional clutter, like putting together a shelving unit or taking a big haul to Goodwill.
The Overzealous Pinner
Identifying characteristics: You got rid of 70% of your belongings during the great KonMari purge of 2015 and hygge-fied your space with cozy knit blankets and fuzzy pillows a year later. You have an impressive vocabulary of foreign words with no direct translation but have something to do with living the easy life in a zen and comfortable home.
Your action plan: The fact that you're so invested in making your home a haven is great, but feeling so reliant on trends might make you prone to over-clutter (and overspending, for that matter). Your next step is to figure out how to make your space feel like a true reflection of you. Start considering your space when you take trends and Pinterest boards out of the equation. What do you really love about it? Can you see yourself getting sick of in the near future?
"When you separate those items you love versus those items you don't, suddenly your home takes on the best version of who you are," says Morris. "It's like wearing your favourite outfits every day."