Q&A With Peter Walsh, Oprah’s Declutter Guru

If he’s good enough for Oprah, he’s good enough for us! Peter Walsh answers our questions on how to declutter our lives, or as he puts it, “love what you have, have what you need, be happier with less.” Sound impossible? Read on!

Can you please tell our readers what your latest book ‘Lighten Up’ is about?

The sub-title of the book pretty much tells it all: ‘Love What You Have, Have What You Need, Be Happier With Less”. In the same way that I conquered clutter in your home (and on your butt and in your mind) in my previous books, Lighten Up helps you to wade through your financial mess, and clear a path to financial health and emotional harmony. The book doesn’t guarantee instant happiness but it does show you how to live a life of abundance on less in a way that doesn’t plunge you deeper into misery and despair, and my suspicion is that with a changed mindset will come a sense a calm, authentic personal identity, and… yes…happiness. Wellbeing doesn’t have to be measured by monetary wealth.

Define clutter – is it too much stuff on the hall table or is it about the hotdog maker on your kitchen bench?

Many people only think of clutter as the physical stuff – those things that you trip over on the floor at home, or the boxes of untouched stuff in the garage. For me, that’s too narrow a definition. I define clutter as anything that gets between you and the life you want to be living. That means that it can be physical, mental, emotional or even financial problems that are stopping you from living your best life.

How is “Lighten Up’ different from your past books?

Lighten Up focuses primarily on redefining happiness and helping people see that happiness doesn’t come from accumulating more stuff. It’s about being happy with what we have. The book also goes into detail helping the reader make detailed ‘audits’ of what their life, their money and their stuff so that they can more easily establish clear priorities for their financial life moving forward.

I related to the ‘home audit’ section – how do you calculate piles of stuff into dollar value?

The home audit is all about looking at your home in a new light and determining what role accumulating more stuff plays in you hoping to find more happiness with the extra things that you buy and accumulate. It also examines in detail where your money is going in buying stuff that has little value once you’ve purchased it – in short, this section helps you reframe the role that all the stuff in your home plays in your life.

How did you come about meeting Oprah and appearing on her show?

I originally had a decluttering and organising show called ‘Clean Sweep’ on the Discovery Channel here in the US and the producers at the Oprah Winfrey Show invited me to shoot a piece for the Oprah Show – that was about four years ago. We hit it off pretty well and they then invited me to be a regular on the show which I have been since then. Last year, I was invited to create my own show on Oprah’s new network here called The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). That show is called ‘Enough Already! with Peter Walsh’ and premiered with the launch of the network on January 1 here in the US and March 1 in Canada.

Did you declutter her house?

Oprah is incredibly organised and hasn’t needed my help there!

Can you describe the ‘Stripped Down Challenge’?

Recently I’ve become identified with the Stripped Down Challenge, which was featured on an episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show. The purpose of the challenge was to address the lack of connectedness in a typical American family and to help families everywhere that are extremely overwhelmed, disorganised, and out-of-touch with one another. Here’s how is starts – and trust me, it’s painful! Your whole family is about to go cold turkey for a week by swearing off technology and working to get to know each other again.

OK, I live in a flat and still can’t swing a cat – where do I start?

You start by asking yourself “What is the vision I have for this room?” “What do I want from this room?” It’s only when you have a clear vision of what you want from a space that you can start deciding what belongs in that area. Every time you want to put something into that room you have to ask: “Will this item move me closer to the vision, the dream, I have for this space?” – if it does, then that’s great. If not, it has no place in your home. You also have to determine areas or zones for each function in a room – an area for reading, one for video games, a place for your clothes and so on.

Once you determine these areas or zones, you have to respect the limit that your space places on you. The moment you exceed that limit, you’re giving into clutter. So – the process is: determine the vision for the space; decide on zones for each function in a room; set and respect limits in the space.

What’s next for you?

I am about to start shooting Season 2 of my show ‘Enough Already! with Peter Walsh’ on OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, here in Los Angeles. I’m also working on a new book which covers in detail how to declutter, organize and maintain every room in your home. I’m calling it ‘The Organizing Bible’ at the moment and I’m hoping it’ll be ready for release mid-next year.

Where can we learn more about you and your methods?

Go to www.peterwalshdesign.com for lots for tips and ideas and join me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/peterwalsh for regular updates on what’s happening with me and a ton of decluttering and organising ideas.

How can you declutter your life?