Have you ever watched a person on television who has inspired you to become better at something? Peter Walsh, organizational guru and author, is that person for me. Many times on Oprah, I’ve watched him help people change their lives by getting organized. I’ve been reading his book How to Organize Just About Everything. He has clearly mapped out a way to bring order to everything under the sun, from conquering every day paper piles and clothing heaps to planning events like a Quinceañera. I have personally implemented many of these ideas and they really work.
Recently, I had the chance to ask Walsh questions about how we can clean the clutter and cut the stress in our lives.
Cordaway: Why is it important for people to have an organized home?
Walsh: The word ‘organize’ and the word ‘organic’ come from the same source—to be organized is to be fully whole and complete. That’s the goal in all of this. If you’re organized in your home, there’s far less stress and anxiety.
Cordaway: How so?
Walsh: Clutter makes us feel stressed out. You can be more focused and motivated, more calm and at peace (with less clutter). When a home is overrun with clutter it robs us emotionally. It steals our peace and calm. We are not even able to relax in our own homes. It also robs us socially. We are too embarrassed to have people over to our houses.
Cordaway: I never realized that. How does this affect our finances?
Walsh: It robs us financially. Stuff costs a lot of money to acquire.
Cordaway: That makes sense. What areas are most problematic when it comes to clutter?
Walsh: When I am working to de-clutter and organize a home, the three biggest problem areas people have are: master closets—especially clothes, the home office…the paperwork is out of control, and the garage. The garage is the black hole of the discarded ‘I might use that one day’ clutter.
Cordaway: So now we have a better understanding about the importance of organizing. After reading It’s All Too Much and from what you’ve told us, clutter clearly wreaks havoc in all areas of our lives, emotionally, socially and financially. So now we know that runs deeper than ‘stuff’. Could you provide the Mamiverse community with some tips to get started, especially for those problem areas of the home?
Walsh: Start slowly. It’s taken months for your house to become cluttered so it’s not realistic to try and organize everything in one day or weekend. Make a commitment every day to de-clutter. Start small. Do one room or section at a time until it is done.
Read Related: How to Clean Your Home in 20 Minutes
For the three problem areas Walsh identified, here are some tips and techniques he provided.
THE TRASH BAG TANGO
Walk around your home every day and fill one bag with trash and one bag with items that you want out of your house. Do this for ten minutes every day. Ship the items to Goodwill or set them aside for a yard sale. Do this every day for a month and the change with be dramatic! You can even hold a neighborhood garage sale afterwards. Turn the trash into cash by the selling the items you no longer need in your home.
THE REVERSE CLOTHES HANGER
We wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time. De-clutter your closet space so that you and your clothes can breathe. At the start of the season reverse the way your clothes are hung in your closet. When you wear and return an item, replace the hanger the correct way around. At the end of the season you can clearly see what you haven’t worn and, most likely, what you can live without. Seriously consider discarding those items of clothing that are still facing the wrong way.
A PLACE FOR PAPERWORK
Managing and controlling paperwork is one of the biggest clutter issues in the home. Have a center and filing system for bills, important files and magazines. Keep books and magazines to a number that fits your shelves or bookcases, no more. File only what you need to keep and shred old or junk mail. This cuts down on the paper clutter being strewn around your home.
USE THE RATIO RULE
If you’re overwhelmed by lots of books, clothes or shoes, or anything that you have a lot of, try this simple technique to keep de-cluttering from feeling overwhelming. For every four items you keep, discard one—throw it away, give it to a friend or donate to charity. Challenge yourself and try to lower the ratio to three to one, or if you are really brave, two to one. Continue this routine until the items you’re keeping fit comfortably into the space you’ve allotted them.
IT’S NOT ALWAYS ABOUT THE STUFF
Don’t be too hard on yourself. Recognize that the clutter is often a reflection of something deeper that might be troubling you. Dealing with the clutter can open up not only the physical space in your life, but also your emotional, psychological, financial and spiritual space as well!
Ditch the stress and spend less. Don’t miss out on the clutter-free life you deserve. Get updates from Peter Walsh via Facebook.