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Conquering Clutter
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Peter Walsh, host of 'Clean Sweep'
If you had to step over piles of clothes, papers and unidentifiable "stuff" just to get to your computer, you're not alone. Organizational guru Peter Walsh, host of TLC's hit show Clean Sweep, says millions of Americans are drowning in clutter.

Studies show that although families are smaller, homes are larger than ever. Even with more square feet of living space, many Americans still fill attics, basements and storage units with stuff. Peter blames overstuffed spaces on our super-size mentality. "We're in a culture that says more is better," he says. "We've been led to believe that things bring us happiness."

For more than 10 years, Peter has helped pack rats organize their homes and reclaim their lives. His techniques go well beyond color-coded boxes and plastic storage bins. Peter says he helps people uncover what's really going on underneath all that junk, which often leads to life-changing breakthroughs.

"[Stuff] robs people of so much," he says. "If your house is full of stuff, all the blessings that could fill your house can't get in. The stuff takes over. It robs you psychologically. You can't be at peace."

Don't distress over your mess—learn to conquer your clutter one room at a time.
FROM: This Is the Year to De-Clutter Your Life
Published on January 01, 2006

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How Peter Walsh Stays Organized
In this month's Make Me a Ten! makeover, organizing expert Peter Walsh whips a professional photographer's home office into shape. Here, he answers our questions on how to achieve a decluttered life.
Peter Walsh
O: Among your friends and family, have you always been "the organized one"?

Walsh: I'm one of seven children, and growing up we never had a lot. But my parents taught us to take care of the things we did have—to respect our possessions. I was always an organized kid, but I think respect is the basis for the work I do.

O: Does organization come naturally to some people and not to others?

PW: People give time to what they think is important. Sometimes they say, "I don't feel organized" or "It doesn't come naturally to me," but if they look at things honestly, they'll realize that, really, they just can't be bothered to put in the time, or they don't think it's that important.

O: How do you help people make organization a priority?

PW: The best place to start is to ask: "What is your vision of your best life ?" If I can get people thinking and talking about what they want from life, they see how decluttering and organization can help them achieve that.

See how Walsh transformed a messy desk area into a workable home office

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Peter Walsh's Simple Ways to Clear the Clutter from Your Home
Organizing expert Peter Walsh says your house is a metaphor for your life. So what does it say about you if your house is full of clutter?





Peter Walsh
Peter's Basic Principles of De-Cluttering
  • Establish a vision for a room and agree on it.
  • Decide what will help you achieve that vision and what will not.
  • Purge your extra stuff.
  • Sort F.A.S.T.:

    Fix a time and stick to it. Haul out any item that fits in one of the following categories:

    Anything you haven't used in a year

    Stuff that doesn't belong

    Trash

  • Next, sort what's left into broad categories like bicycles or tools. Then organize them in separate zones in the room.
  • After you are clutter-free, create new routines to stay that way.
FROM: Nate and Clutter Expert Peter Walsh Team Up to Clean Up Your Life
Published on January 01, 2006

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The Good Earth
Peter Conn
Peter Conn is the Andrea Mitchell Term Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania. His publications include The Divided Mind: Ideology and Imagination in America, 1898-1917 (Cambridge University Press, 1983; paperback edition, 1988), and Literature in America (Cambridge University Press, 1989), which was a main selection of Associated Book Clubs (UK). Pearl S. Buck: A Cultural Biography (Cambridge, 1996; Paperback 1998), was chosen as a New York Times Notable Book for that year, was included among the five finalists for the National Book Critics Circle award in biography, and received the Athenaeum Award. Conn's books have been translated into eight languages, including Chinese, Spanish, and Korean. He has lectured on a number of American artists, including Edward Hopper, William Christenberry, Thomas Wilmer Dewing, Maxfield Parrish, Charles Sheeler, and The Eight.

A John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellow, Conn has also directed National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) seminars for college and high school teachers. He has received several awards for distinguished teaching, and has served as literary consultant on numerous television projects, including "The American Short Story" series, and adaptations of novels by James Baldwin and Saul Bellow.

In 1993, Conn was named visiting professor at the University of Nanjing, in the People's Republic of China.

Conn has served as Dean of the College, chair of the graduate groups in American Civilization and English, and Faculty Master of Robert Hill College House and Community House. Currently, Conn serves as Interim Provost of the University. He is also Board Chairman Emeritus of Pearl S. Buck International.

Peter and his wife Terry have four children: Steven, David, Alison, and Jennifer. Jennifer was adopted through Welcome House, the international adoption agency founded in 1949 by Pearl S. Buck.

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Viewers Clean House
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Ken's home after he took Peter Walsh's pledge
In the months since the launch of Oprah's Clean Up Your Messy House Tour, decluttering expert Peter Walsh says the worsening economy has made getting your house in order more important than ever. "People are nervous, and people feel that the country's out of control," he says. "One place you can control is your home. [Make] a place of harmony and peace and tranquility by decluttering and organizing it."

More than 180,000 Oprah Show viewers joined Peter's Clutter Crew. Take the pledge and sign up now!   

After the call to action, Ken from California says he called a family meeting. Everyone signed Peter's anti-clutter pledge and tackled their living room as a team. "Before, our living room was cluttered with my cycling gear, my wife's knitting, paperwork, our kids' artwork," he says. "Now, it's just used for family meals, homework, bills and story time."
FROM: Oprah's Clean Up Your Messy House Tour: Atlanta
Published on February 19, 2009

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Peter Walsh's Surprising Way to Clean Up Clutter
Organizational expert Peter Walsh helps tidy up our cluttered thinking.
Get rid of clutter.
Illustration: Daniel Bejar
As leader of Oprah's Clean Up Your Messy House Tour on The Oprah Winfrey ShowPeter Walsh  is carving order out of chaos in scores of domestic disaster areas. In his latest book, Enough Already! Clearing Mental Clutter to Become the Best You, he makes the link between a disorganized home and the untidy thoughts that can muddle our relationships and well-being.

O: Enough Already! treats clutter not just as the physical stuff in our homes but as a metaphor for our lives.

Walsh: My clients say things like, "I was buried under all that stuff," "I was drowning," "I feel like I'm suffocating."  We use those metaphors because clutter robs us of life. It robs us socially, when we're too embarrassed to have people over. It robs us spiritually, because we can't be at peace in a cluttered home. And it robs us psychologically, by stealing our ability to feel motivated in our space.

O: And the term "clutter"  is all-encompassing.

Walsh: It means anything that stands between you and the vision you have for your best life. It could be a pile of inherited furniture or a jumble of kids' toys all over the living room. But it could also be the constant self-doubt that creeps into your decision-making, anger about how you're treated at work, shame about your weight or looks, or a tendency to respond defensively and critically when your spouse challenges you. Whatever the case, you have to ask yourself, "Does this item or thought or response move me closer to my vision for my best life?" If it does, great. If it doesn't, what is it doing in your life?

O: So your house could be neat as a pin and you could still be in a badly cluttered relationship.Enough Already by Peter Walsh

Walsh: Maybe your partner says something you don't like and your immediate reaction is to attack. But if you insert a question—"Will my response help create the relationship I want or damage it?"—that's a transformational moment. You have to remove the clutter of competing egos and miscommunication, the clutter of assuming your partner might want to hurt you deliberately. A decluttered relationship is one in which you trust that you and your partner want each other to live your best lives.

O: But what is the difference between a vision for your best life and an unattainable fantasy?

Walsh: We have an infinite capacity for self-deception, yes. A lot of clutter is a lack of acceptance that a moment has passed. Maybe someone has kept all her college English papers because she wanted to be a writer, but she never put in the time and energy to make it happen.

O:One of the unnerving things about physical clutter is that it's stealthy. You clean the house, but two days later it's a wreck again, and you don't know how it happened.

Walsh: Ah, that's the cycle problem. If you put a load of clothes in the wash, and halfway through you turn the machine off and leave it for a few days, you will come back to a mound of smelly laundry. You have to finish the cycle. When you have a bowl of cereal, does the box go back in the cupboard? When you bring in the mail, do you immediately open and sort it? At night, do your clothes go in the hamper or on the floor? We have a choice: to be mindful and complete the cycle, or to end up with a stinky load of washing in the metaphorical machine. Inside we're all 8-year-olds expecting someone to pick up after us. Those days are gone.

The 12 ways to unclutter your life

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