I can (and unfortunately, do) live with piles of stuff out in the open. Mail that needs to be answered, stuff to take to the post office, folded laundry begging to be put away before the boys sit on it.
I consider it a "visual to do list." I hate clutter, so if I see it I know I'll take care of it. Eventually.
But one thing I can't stand is a messy closet/basement/attic. I spend hours organizing closets, which is fine and virtuous of me, but while I clean out the hall closet yet again there is a pile of random paper out on the desk. Where everyone can see it and get annoyed by it.
What's up with that?
I think I'm afraid of putting things away messily and then forgetting about them. The thought of crap sitting down in the basement fills me with terror, it really does.
A pile of week-old laundry on the kitchen table? It's irritating, but I know it's there.