Peter Walsh and Crystal Martin

Photo: Jonny Valiant

Crystal's Desk, Before
As a magazine editor, I receive a lot of stuff. Picture endless packages containing everything from laundry detergents to solar-powered cell phone chargers. Combine that daily pileup with my organizational motto—"Postpone, postpone, postpone"—and you'll understand why, until recently, my desk was in shambles. The stuff (books, unopened boxes, dry cleaning, jars of tomato sauce, a small telescope, a hypoallergenic pillow) wasn't just a mess; it was a liability. Often I would reach for a phone number or the reminder I'd just written myself, only to spend five frustrated minutes sifting through the muddle. In this business of tight deadlines, five wasted minutes is a big deal.

My disastrous desk was famous around the office—so much so that two colleagues begged Peter Walsh to stage an intervention. When he arrived, he quickly set me straight. "I don't buy it," he said, when I complained that I didn't have time to organize. "That's another way of saying, 'I don't think organizing is important.'" Okay, then.

Photo: Jonny Valiant

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.

Photo: Jonny Valiant

Peter and Crystal
I'd always thought I was doing fine despite my mess—filing regular stories, rising up through the ranks. But it wasn't until the clutter was gone that I realized how harried it had made me feel; I was able to do my job, but with more stress than was necessary.

Now when I come in each day, my workstation feels like a gift I left for myself the night before. I sit down and get right to my tasks, because everything is where it needs to be. And when it's time to find that important Post-it, all I have to do is (calmly and cheerily) reach over to where I left it. Pretty neat, if you ask me.

Peter Walsh's show, Enough Already, premieres January 3rd on OWN. Preview more new shows here.

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