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The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines clutter as “a crowded or confused mass or collection.” But the truth is, clutter holds different shapes and meanings for all of us.

To a staunch minimalist, clutter could be something as modest as an unworn T-shirt. To frenzied parents, on the other hand, it’s often the ongoing battle of corralling toys into a box. Or maybe it comes down to a literal mess that needs to be cleaned.

And it’s worth noting that Americans keep an average of at least 50 unused items in our homes.

Is all that buildup just an eyesore? Minutiae we trip over on our way to the kitchen? Or is it actually inconveniencing us in more profound ways?

A number of studies suggest the latter. And the following infographic from MakeSpace (they offer valet storage in NYC, DC, Chicago, and LA) examines exactly that. The visual combines scientific findings with original research to shed light on the various implications of living with clutter.

Have a look for yourself:

Clutter Infographic by MakeSpace

via MakeSpace

Just as there’s more than one type of clutter, there are also infinite ways to approach it.

You could hold a packing party, or break it down into daily segments. Find it difficult to decide what to toss?

Nourishing Minimalism recommends starting in an easy room like the kitchen, since utilitarian items are easier to shed. You might also consider hiring a professional organizer to help you navigate the process.

Regardless of what your clutter looks like, make sure to address it – before it defines you.