Photo: Jonny Valiant

2 of 3
Crystal's Desk, After
Next, Walsh asked me, "What do you want from your desk?" I blanked. I'm not the type of person who describes a space in terms of the feelings it evokes. But according to Walsh, you need to describe your vision before you can create a space that embodies it. Recalling all those lost phone numbers, I decided I wanted a desk that exuded calm. "But it should still be cheery!" I told him.

We began sorting. Anything that didn't conjure cheeriness or calm was chucked or given away. Those guiding words made every object's keep-ability a simple yes or no proposition, but a few items still gave me pause. As I attempted to file several greeting cards from my mother, Walsh stopped me. "You don't need those," he said. "But," I protested, "they're from my mom." He put it firmly: "Say it with me—'These cards are not my mother.'" I tossed them, resolving to do the same with the many piles of not-my-mother currently cluttering my apartment.

After sifting through my entire cubicle, Walsh placed things I used every day an arm's length away; rarely used items were banished to "archive" drawers behind my desk. I promised that I'd deal with packages as I opened them—no more postponing. With that, he shook my hand and left me to enjoy my newly pristine work area.