Is your stuff – paper, possessions, or supplies – out in the open where you can see it?
Do you forget, ignore or lose what you can’t see?
For you, is out of sight is out of mind?’
On the other hand do you prefer to have everything you own tucked away – in a drawer, cabinet, or closet?
Do you feel unsettled, anxious or out-of-control when things are not stored, stowed or put away?
Do people always remark at how tidy your home looks?
If the first example sounds more like you, consider yourself a Piler. On the other hand, if the second example resonates more strongly with you, you are probably a Hider.
The terms Hider and Piler represent two types on an organizing continuum. Generally people fall somewhere along the continuum preferring one kind of organizing habit over another. These are not absolutes. Understanding your – and others – preferred type can help you learn ways to be and stay organized as well as to help you better understand the habits of others. For couples, its common for one partner to be a Hider and the other a Piler. Understanding your partner’s style and how they think about organizing will help keep the peace at home.
The most important thing to know is that both Hiders and Pilers can be equally organized or disorganized.
Take a look at the pictures below:
The column on the left represents two versions of a Piler organizing style: An organized Piler, as represented by the store that sells beads and other jewelry making s
upplies and a disorganized Piler as illustrated by the photo of the cluttered office.
The column on the right represents two versions of a Hider organizing stye – an organized Hider as represented by the physician’s examination room and a disorganized Hider as exemplified by the cluttered drawer.
Organizing styles can be dictated by function – such as the need for safe and sanitary conditions as in a doctor’s office or the need for customers to find what they are looking for quickly and easily as in the bead store example. For most people, however, organizing styles emerge from our individual personalities, learned habits or in some cases, physical or emotional conditions.
It’s helpful to think of Hider and Piler as preferences, rather than extremes, with most people falling somewhere between them but leaning towards one or another at varying degrees.
While I have not conducted a scientific study about organizing preferences, in my experience as a professional organizer, I have found that Hiders and Pilers also share some other characteristics.
For example, Pilers, because they like items out where they can seem them, may not benefit as much from conventional organizing methods. An example of this is a standard two-drawer file cabinet. A better solution for a Piler is an open file drawer on wheels that allows them to see and file their papers and then stow them away as needed.
Many of my clients who I would consider Pilers are artists, creative types or visual learners. They are stimulated by various forms of color, design, objects, and words. A Piler who does not feel comfortable expressing himself in a particular environment may find substitutes for filling the space in other ways.
An example of this are artists who earn income in an office setting. To compensate for the design of a standard office cubicle – with things like closed, overhead bins – artists and other Pilers often fill their surfaces with paper, piles or other bulky supplies. When I notice a client doing this, once we’ve worked together on organizing the paper, I often recommend they find objects, artwork or photographs to fill the space (in lieu of the paper) that inspire them.
Conversely, a Hider may feel torn between her need for order and the desire to consume, purchase or own items of perceived value. From the outside, everything looks fine, even beautiful. Until you open a drawer, cabinet or closet. Then suddenly everything spills out in a jumble. This is what I call the “Jack-in-the-box” phenomenon.
Typically hiders call me when their clutter starts creeping out from the drawers, cabinets and closets because they’ve run out of room. I often recommend to Hiders that they examine their beliefs about what they value so that they can begin to edit down what they have. I also remind them that storage areas are valuable ‘real estate.’ If they want to cut down on the clutter-creep they are either going to have to maximize the real estate, through editing, or else be at risk of spending more to house thier stuff. The worst case scenario is when people buy bigger homes or invest in expensive storage units to accommodate items they don’t use, want or need.
A hider can also lean towards the other extreme, purging themselves of all but the minimum necessities, sometimes prematurely, maintaining a tidy space albeit a bit sterile or overly staged.
In the fall I will be conducting an online seminar about Hiders and Pilers. If you are interested or want more information, email me at Lis@letsmakeroom.com.