I read a lot of books. Every once in a while I read a book that I know is going to be life changing. After watching a recent Oprah show featuring Peter Walsh, the organizing expert from TLC’s Clean Sweep, I picked up his book It’s All Too Much. If you’ve ever struggled with clutter in your home, this book is a must read. I’ve begun the process of decluttering my house, and I can already see a world of difference, not only in the way my house looks, but the way it feels.
Peter’s latest book is Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat? In it he makes the connection between clutter and health. It’s nearly impossible to have a healthy lifestyle when your home is cluttered up with junk. By getting rid of the clutter, it’s easier to make the choices that are best for your health.
I recently had the privilege of interviewing Peter about clutter and his latest book. Here’s what he had to say.
Peter, why did you decide to get into the field of home organization?
It just happened organically. I have worked in many different areas – education, health promotion, drug abuse prevention, interpersonal skills training in the workplace, home design and renovation. I was producing organizational change materials for use in workplace settings when friends starting asking for a little help around their homes dealing with layout, design and (especially) clutter. One thing led to another and here I am.
Do you have any words of wisdom for someone who wants to declutter her life, but is so overwhelmed that she doesn’t know where to start?
The best investment you can make is in your own life and as tough as it sounds, if you don’t work to create the life you want, no one else will. Clutter is a huge hurdle but it’s also a gift. By redefining your relationship to your stuff – and that’s TOUGH to do, you can reinvent yourself and really discover what’s important in your life. Start small, stop buying stuff, maintain a consistent effort, enlist the help of friends. Change is possible!
What advice do you have for someone who says she can’t cut back the clutter, because her house is too small, and there’s just not enough storage space?
I love this one! It is NEVER a case of ‘not enough room’! You only have the space your have. Let me repeat that, you only have the space you have. And in the same way that in a relationship if you don’t honor and respect your partner, the relationship will sour; so also with your space. If you don’t honor and respect your space (including it’s physical limitations), your relationship with that space will sour very quickly. It’s never about not enough space – it’s always about too much stuff. Focus on what you can change – not what you can’t!
It seems to me that people often use frugality as an excuse to keep clutter. For example, someone keeps an item that he might need someday, saying it wouldn’t be frugal to buy a new item down the line. What do you say to that?
That’s a strong and reasonable and fair argument. It’s about balance. When the ‘I might need it one day’ stuff or the ‘memory’ stuff takes over your space and stops you living the life you want NOW, then that’s when the argument collapses. Maintain a reasonable balance with the stuff you have in your home and so maintain the calm, and harmony, peace and tranquility that your home should provide.
In your latest book, Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat?, you make the connection between clutter and health. In a nutshell, what impact does clutter have on a person’s health?
It’s simple. You can’t make your best and healthiest choices in a messy, cluttered, disorganized home – it just can’t be done. Think about what clutter does to you – it sucks life from your space (“I feel suffocated in that space”), it crushes you (“There is so much stuff I feel overwhelmed”) and it destroys the sense of peace and calm that any home should have (“I hate being in that space – it makes me so anxious”). Your home should be your sanctuary and your kitchen should nourish your family. If it doesn’t there is a huge impact on every aspect of your health. Create the home you want, move closer to the life you want, and see the ripple effect through every area of your life.
Do you have any closing thoughts?
We each only have one life to live. It’s not about the quantity of stuff – it’s about the quality of our lives. Live well. Be happy.
And there you have it. Words of wisdom from Peter Walsh. If you have a problem with clutter, I highly encourage you to pick up the book It’s All Too Much.
Thank you, Peter, for taking the time to share your thoughts with the readers of Being Frugal today!
If you like this article, please sign up for free weekly email updates.
I'm just an average mom, trying to live a frugal life and get out of debt. I write about things that have (and haven't) worked to improve my family's financial situation. What works for me may or may not work for you, and you should always consult a financial advisor before making important financial decisions.
In accordance with FTC guidelines, I state that I have a financial relationship with companies mentioned in this website. This may include receiving access to free products and services for product and service reviews and giveaways.
Any references to third party products, rates, or websites are subject to change without notice. I do my best to maintain current information, but due to the rapidly changing environment, some information may have changed since it was published. Please do the appropriate research before participating in any third party offers.