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"Clutter is anything that gets between you and the life you want to be living," organizational guru Peter Walsh explains. "If something is causing you anxiety or stress, it's clutter and needs to go."
When Peter met Jennifer and Bill — a married couple from Orange, Connecticut — it was his job to get them on the same page when it came to the clutter in their home.
"Bill [has] a little bit of trouble letting go of stuff," Peter explains.
"I want to be like every other family and eat at the dining room table with my family," Jennifer says, "but [my husband] Bill has put piles of papers there." Bill also ran out of closet space, so he was keeping six bins full of clothes piled in their bedroom.
"There are a lot of things there that I say to myself, 'I'll use that again, maybe next year,'" Bill explains.
"Everything in your home has to have a home," Peter says. So he gave the couple tips on how to tackle the clutter together.
1. Clearing Paper Clutter: While Bill sifted through all of the papers on the dining room table — which included old newspapers and TV guides that he didn't need anymore — Peter suggested that Jennifer work on emptying cubbies that necessary paperwork could be kept in.
Lesson learned: Teamwork makes the dream work.
2. Clearing Clothing Clutter: Peter suggested letting go of any clothes they didn't need, want or fit into anymore. (He called the latter "wish clothes.") While Bill may have had more to go through, Jennifer admitted that she had some clothes she was keeping for no reason, too. "I had a lot of 'wish clothes' in my closet, and it was hard to part with it," Jennifer says. "But it felt good." Ultimately, the couple donated four bags of clothing!
Lesson learned: Clutter isn't usually all one person's doing. Everybody likely has some clutter they could clear.
3. Clearing Sentimental Clutter: A big hat that Bill got from his father had been causing an ongoing argument between Jennifer and Bill. Since Bill didn't want to part with it for sentimental reasons, they compromised and hung it up in the bedroom so it would still have a place in their home — but wasn't just lying around.
Lesson learned: Compromise, compromise, compromise.
"It was therapeutic," Jennifer says about the decluttering process. "[Peter] made us understand the emotion behind the clutter and to really make good choices."
"It was difficult to see a lot of the stuff go," Bill admits, "but it's stuff that I haven't used in so long."