Understand Your ‘Clutterbug’ Style Before Organising Your Home

Understand Your ‘Clutterbug’ Style Before Organising Your Home

Before you clean your home, you should have to have some kind of plan. Before you have a plan, though, you should know what kind of organiser you are. Some decluttering methodologies help make plans that suits a particular space, but others, like Cassandra Aarssen’s “Clutterbug” philosophy, help with a better sense of who you are as a cleaner and organiser. 

What is the ‘Clutterbug’ philosophy to cleaning and organizing? 

Aarssen is a professional organiser and has lots of experience helping the clutter prone to get their lives in order. She co-authored Real Life Organizing: Clean and Clutter-Free in 15 Minutes a Day with another big name in the space, Peter Walsh, and she’s broken down her personal system into four organizing styles that are meant to help figure out how you organise, so you can work with your own style instead of against it. 

Overall, Aarssen advocates for determining your organising style by identifying whether you’re a butterfly, cricket, ladybug, or bee. Once you’ve done that, you’re meant to set clear rules about what you want to keep or get rid of, declutter hidden areas first, use bins to sort anything that doesn’t belong in your space and anything sentimental that you want to deal with later, and work in small areas to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

By first determining your organising style, you can make the process of cleaning and organising easier. What works for someone else might not work for you, so it’s important to declutter in a personalized way. Aarssen’s focus on small spaces is also helpful for stopping you from getting overwhelmed, as it allows you to go at a slower pace, and her acknowledgement that some items are sentimental and deserve a little extra time to go through is less harsh and stressful than other organisers’ more severe calls to throw things away. 

What are the four Clutterbug styles?

The first step in Aarssen’s decluttering method involves a little introspection: There are four organising styles—butterfly, cricket, ladybug, and bee—and most people fall into one of them.

  • Ladybugs look nice on the outside but struggle with internal messiness, meaning they don’t have surface clutter, but their mess is hidden away in places like junk drawers and closets. If you’re a ladybug, a casual visitor to your home might think it was clean, but that’s just because they haven’t opened the door to the garage or gotten a good look in the cabinets. 
  • Bees are people who find it hard to put things away or get rid of anything. There have unfinished projects all over the place and useless items strewn around, as bees are the kind of people who cling to things in case they come in handy in the future. If you have a bunch of charging cables or different-sized screws in a drawer somewhere, you’re probably a bee. 
  • Crickets don’t want clutter around at all and are big on organizing everything down to the smallest level. They’re meticulous, but since that can get tedious, they’re also easily put off from actually organizing at all. If you dream of having every single item organized just right but get overwhelmed by trying to do it and end up with a big mess, you’re a cricket. 
  • Butterflies are more free-spirited: They don’t organize much at all because they prefer to have everything in their sight. They’re not big on details and would rather know (and see) where everything is all the time. If you walk in the house after work and toss all your stuff on a table near the door, you’re a butterfly. 

To really dig into which Clutterbug style you are, try Aarssen’s quiz

The good thing about realizing which of these categories describes your personal habits is that they also describe how you should be organizing in general. Assessing your style doesn’t mean you have to work hard to overcome it; it just means you have to work with it. For instance, a ladybug that likes a visually pleasing exterior but is hiding clutter should try keeping a bunch of small, decorative storage baskets around the house instead of relying on a stashed-away junk drawer. Better yet, consider multifunction furniture with hidden storage inside. On the other hand, bees and butterflies (or anyone who wants their stuff where they can see it for whatever reason) should opt for clear storage containers. Some, like these, have dividers inside that keep everything neat, but are still transparent, so you know exactly what’s in there when you need it.

Crickets need better time management and to be a little more relaxed and less focused on perfection, so if you fall into that category, try a method like the Core 4 technique to plan out a less overwhelming decluttering session when you have time. 

Once you determine your category, you can get the storage solutions you need and start on a real decluttering journey, whether you follow Aarssen’s next steps or a technique like Core 4 or 12-12-12. You may need to try a few different methods, but keeping your own personal habits and tendencies in mind will go a long way toward helping you develop a cleaning strategy you can stick with long term. 

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