Personality Types & Clutter: Causes & Cures

looks like 2 brains side by side, 1 brain is black and white while the other brain is colorful. Maybe left / right brain depiction

What are your triggers that cause clutter or is it your innate personality. Let’s face it some people are Type A and go go go and others are lazy. Is your lazy nature a cause of you living a life surrounded by clutter? Does this mean all Type A personalities live in clutter free environments? Probably not. I have read no research making this claim.

Are you sloppy by nature or are you a natural neatnik? Can either of these personality styles change behaviors?

I understand why a slob may want to change, a neat organized person not so much. What if these 2 personalities live under the same roof, what does compromise look like and how does this affect living under the same roof?


Triggers can be mental or physical. The mental triggers that cause stress are…


Are you one that procrastinates? Probably, because most of procrastinate the things we do not want to do. I try to do the things I really don’t want to do first. This basically works, except for the things I really, really don’t want to do!

Procrastination is often one of the mental triggers causing the physical buildup of clutter. Where there is physical clutter there is generally mental clutter.

First step is find the trigger to your procrastination. Procrastination has negative consequences, such as increased stress, missed opportunities, negative financial outcomes and decreased productivity.

You can learn through journaling if you are a procrastinator, what areas you procrastinate and how to change this if you choose to.

Decision making

Have you ever heard the term analysis paralysis? I am real good at this! I research and compare and compare and research and then do the same thing again upside down until I am paralyzed with too much information. Then I put the device down and walk away without a decision made.

Unless I spontaneously make a decision. Decision making can be especially hard if there is not a lot of money to back up a risky choice.

What kind of decision maker are you?

pink roses, antique photographs


More than once have I heard from a child of a deceased parent that they did not want their parents stuff. They did not know how to say no without hurting their parents feelings. Now they live in homes filled with stuff they don’t need or want. Why keep these things unless they are useful or filled with beauty?

How do you discard things that were special in a loved one’s eye? This is everyone’s personal decision to make. No easy answers. Writing about it will guide your decision making process of what to keep and what to discard.

One quick tip I will offer is if you take a picture of a sentimental object you may find it easier to let go of it. Speaking of pictures, how many boxes of pictures do you have stashed?

Physical behaviors:

Buying too much

Let’s face it some people just buy too much stuff. If this is a problem for you it is important to learn why you keep buying stuff you don’t really need or want. Usually any overdoing behaviors are due to a way of trying to fill a void.

By writing you can find what the void is you are trying to fill. I firmly believe we all have the answers within us. If you are bringing home more and more stuff you really don’t need writing about this will unearth important information about yourself.

Trust me, I have done lot’s of work in this area and I still have all the boxes of journals to prove it. I have also led many women’s groups focused on daily writing. You would not believe the changes made by these amazing women once they learned how to let go of stuff and move on.

Lack of cleaning

Does anyone really like to clean house? I thought my friend would die laughing when I told her how I always wanted to be a car detailer. Cleaning is something I really do not mind doing. I really do resent the time involved though.

This is how I feel about driving. I don’t mind driving. I hate sharing the road! Often all it takes is little clarity and a shift in thinking to work through these trouble areas in life.

I can guarantee one thing, getting rid of all the clutter will make cleaning so easy you will be more inclined to clean regularly. If not hiring a house cleaner may be an option. You will still need to get rid of the clutter though, so the cleaners can clean.

a jumble of mismatched tupperware like food containers


Some folks admittedly do not have a clue how to organize. Having a designated space for everything is necessary to live an organized life. Otherwise clutter just keeps piling up.

There are so many amazing organizational systems for sale today there really is no excuse to live disorganized, although I recognize some organization systems are pricey.

Having a top notch carpenter build you custom spaces would be awesome and very pricey. I spend about nothing and am extremely organized.

Rigid plastic sheets keep this artists pencils sorted, pieces of gutter sort glass rods and yarn colors are sorted using free cardboard boxes.

This post may contain affiliate links for which I may receive a small compensation at no extra cost to you.

A combination of mental and physical behaviors can be causing or adding to a cluttered disorganized environment. Identifying these behaviors, is key if you are looking to change the status quo and create a more organized and clutter-free living space.

What does all this mean?


We all know what procrastination is. It’s when we try we our hardest to put off doing something we don’t want to do until the very last possible moment. Sound familiar?

The nuttiest part of procrastination is realizing that doing the task usually takes less time than all the time spent putting it off!

There can be several reasons why people procrastinate.

Fear of failure

Being a recovering perfectionist is what broke my habit of procrastination- for the most part. Fear of not doing a task or project perfectly caused me to keep procrastinating.

As a life long self supporting artist this was tough. I had to give myself license to make a bunch of art I did not like. This is what today I call practice. I have learned it is not only fine, but necessary, to make a bunch of not so great art before I get to my favorite creations!

Writing and writing got me to the change I was looking for. I finally got it through my head that if I kept on doing the same old miserable things I would keep on getting the same misery. One day I said Stop.

I believe we all have the answers within us. One just needs to be motivated to find the answers. Writing is a great tool to use to find, or rather create your path.


When people say they are too overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, what they are really saying is – I am just going to keep procrastinating.- It does not matter where you start. The object is to start. The very act of starting will guide you.

White canvas syndrome is common among some painters. This is when someone is afraid to put the ‘wrong color’ down on a new blank white canvas or wall for fear of making a mistake. I am not painter, although I do enjoy dabbling from time to time.

To prevent white canvas when I paint I always throw any color paint on the canvas as a first step. It doesn’t even matter what the color is because I can always paint over it. Now I have started. Starting is often and usually the hardest part of doing something, especially the first time.

calendar and clock

Time management

Where do all your 24 hours in any given day go? If you aren’t getting everything scheduled for day the done you are either wasting time or have over scheduled yourself. Both are common causes. The tool to use to correct this is an inventory of your time.

This is just what it sounds like, just like when a store takes an inventory. An inventory of your time will reveal where your time is actually being spent. Maybe you are interrupted by a phone call(s). Note the amount of time. If you work from home those little trips to the kitchen for a snack add up!

Just stopping work to give my pups a treat and tummy rub can take 20 plus minutes because the pups and I love these breaks! If I do this a couple times a day and factor in their walks too, this is a fair amount of time taken away from other things.

Breaks are perfectly acceptable and encouraged, just factor it in when you are wondering why you ran out of time today.

Make a note of all your actions for a day or a few days and learn where your time is actually being spent. I think you may be surprised to see the truth. There are apps available to help track your time.

What motivates you?

What are you passionate about? A lot of people think they don’t have the luxury to think about passion when it comes to financial obligations and earning money. This was me for years. I broke out of that box a long time ago. It was not easy and it was scary. I do not regret one moment of the hard work and gut wrenching fear.


Last but not least, and this is my favorite! As a recovering perfectionist I can tell you it is well worth the work involved to let go of perfectionism. Perfectionism is a complicated issue because you have to learn why you insist on being perfect. Of course there is no such thing as perfect so you are playing a losing game.

Ask a friend or family member if you are a perfectionist if you need help to honestly appraise yourself. Your friend will answer instantly.

Decision making issues

The ability to make decisions varies from person to person. There can be several factors that contribute to this.


Making decisions seems to be easier for confident, assertive people. Of course there are always exceptions. Less confident and inexperienced folks may waffle because they are unsure of themselves.

Information overload

In some cases, having too much information can make it difficult to make a decision. People may feel overwhelmed, then frustrated, and decide to procrastinate and walk away. I definitely can do this.


Some of us avoid making decisions quickly due to the fear of making the wrong choice. When the stakes are high or when there are significant consequences associated with the decision making fears can be be disabling. Not having a bunch of money to risk is a common cause of fear of decision making.

super woman lady wearing cape


Some decision makers go with their gut. Some analyze the pros and the cons. Personally I do both.. I have bought cars if my gut only okays the purchase. Alternately I have spent hours analyzing what dog food to buy. I certainly consider the stakes high for both pet care and vehicle safety.

This topic interests me a lot. I have watched others make decisions as research. One friend adopted a dog in less time than it took to toss 4 old pillows! The dog is 6 years old now, adopted 3 years ago and the pillows are still there!

In the example I mentioned with the car and dog food – I happened to trust the person involved in the car sale transaction and I knew nothing about dog food kibble.

How to Identify Triggers

picture of an empty spiral bound notebook and old fashioned quill pen.

Journaling or writing

Writing is a great way to figure out what your triggers are to clutter and any other stuff you are trying to deal with. Some people call it journaling. For many years I wrote many pages as my first act of the day.

When I figured out who I was and what I wanted the road map appeared.

This is not necessarily a quick process. Most people I have worked with, as emotional as the information they have excavated can be, find great relief to finally learn their buried triggers.


Practicing mindfulness will show you all the tools you need to figure out your triggers and anything else on your mind. Mindfulness can be as simple as writing yourself a question and answering the question.

What mindfulness is not

Mindfulness does not have to be voodoo, meditation, funky music and unrecognizable foods. I say this because some folks have interesting perceptions of what mindfulness is. Keep it simple. Use your mind. This is mindfulness

What mindfulness is

There are many different ways to practice mindfulness. My mantra in life is to keep things simple. For example to control myself from rage to calm is as simple as a few long breathes in and out. Another simple tool for me is to smile when I don’t feel like it. It is hard to be ticked off when I am smiling.

I am sure I could not drive my vehicle without practicing breathing techniques 90% of the time.


Explore the many ways available to practice mindfulness. Some people meditate. Meditation isn’t my thing, although sometimes I wish I could get the hang of it. I seem unwilling to sit still long enough to meditate. I do find myself in a meditative state at times when I am making art and out walking alone.

You will find at least one practice that is compatible to you. Keep it simple. I practice breathing, walking, and writing. When I am overwhelmed or ticked off at any perceived slight I try to stop and pay attention to my breath.

For this high strung recovering perfectionist this is nothing shy of miraculous to me.


Visualization works. I have had so many things I visualize come to fruition. It could not be simpler. I knew exactly what kind of house I wanted to buy and I knew where I wanted this home to be. I visualized living in this house. It took about a year of looking at properties when I found my home.

When my home appeared I told the kind and patient realtor before we walked in the front door – I will buy it! That was about 30 years ago,


Instead of wishing for stuff I just ‘intend’ stuff to happen. Sounds crazy. I told my friends a few years ago I was reinventing myself. The first response from friends was always ‘to what?’ I told them I had no idea and I am intending to reinvent myself. I knew the details would follow. They sure did, although not overnight.

If visualization and intentions sound nutty and too new age, I get it. What do you have to lose if you try visualizing and intending?


Everyone is familiar with at least part of the Serenity Prayer about acceptance….‘Accept the things you cannot change’… Read that again. Is this the wisest thing you ever read? Then why is it we keep replaying our last conversations, reactions to things and perceived slights? We can’t change it. No matter what we cannot change the past.

You can try reliving the experience repeatedly in your head and no matter how many times you review the situation you cannot change it. This is now the past. Move on.

Practicing mindfulness will show you to accept the things you can’t change. For me I know today about the only things I can change is my attitude, perception of things and my plans.

heart etched with words I am grateful


If you have not practiced recognizing all the things you are grateful for, may I suggest you begin today. I learned a long time ago my magic is to love all that I have rather than whining for stuff I don’t have. At the end of my day what brings me contentment and peace is not at all related to material possessions.

Letting Go

Letting go of the things I can’t change, like acceptance, is the only sensible course of action for me. Some days are certainly better than others. I find that days that are going smoothly are much easier to let go of icky things. On days where everything just keeps adding on I have a tougher time. .

My personality is generally easy going and flexible. For some reason my personality changes when driving. I had to learn what the root cause of this rage was.

The best I could come up with is my rage is due to the feeling of powerlessness I feel when another driver does something stupid and puts the rest of us in harm’s way. Feeling powerless is a miserable feeling.

As far as learning how to let go of possessions that no longer serve you or bring you joy I suggest you journal, which means write about it.

Start slowly with a firm goal in mind, or better still write your goal down. The writing technique is simple and will bring you success if you practice consistency.

There is no rush. You did not get here overnight. If you are impatient by nature consider this a lesson in acquiring patience too. Help yourself to 10 free writing prompts. My gift to you!

Support is Available

I cannot stress the importance of seeking professional help if you are experiencing runaway negative emotions. I am sure with due diligence you can find a trusted therapist that works for you.

Again, it’s important to note that working through past traumas or emotional issues can be a complex and difficult process, and may require professional support. Please do not suffer alone. If for some reason you can’t visit with a health care provider please find a support group.

There are many on line support groups and a quick search will point you to them.

If you feel you need mental health care guidance The National Institute for Health may be a first step.

Marj Bates is a life long ridiculously organized declutter-er and artist. Less is more are words Marj lives by in everything she does except collecting dogs. “Dogs are like potato chips! Can’t have just one.” says Marj. Marj wonders if growing up with a fanatically clean Jewish mom means her decluttering and organizational skills are in her blood.

For more Declutter Buzz & Freebies check out our safe and private Decluttering community on our Facebook page. We are a safe and private space of like minded folks tackling this all encompassing clutter thing once and for all. No shame allowed! We will have a few laughs too!

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