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So the computer desk where the client checks e-mail each night before bed needs to be moved to another room. The kids’ toys need to be cleaned out. The dirty clothes need to be picked up.
The approach helps prevent the addition of new clutter, too. When you see something you like in a store, don’t ask yourself whether you love it, he said. Ask yourself whether it will help you get what you want from your home and your life.
The approach can even make people healthier, Walsh said. He’s found that when people eliminate clutter, they become less depressed and more energetic. And when their kitchens are welcoming and organized, they’re more motivated to plan meals and make healthful food choices.
But getting organized brings with it the need to maintain those good habits. Walsh calls it “completing the cycle” and likens the process to a washing machine.
You have to complete a wash cycle for the clothes to get clean, he explained. If you shut the washer off before a cycle is finished and leave the wet clothes inside for three days, your clothes turn moldy and smelly.
It’s the same with your home. If you don’t finish the organizing cycle — say, you leave the mail piled on the kitchen table or the dirty dishes in the sink — you end up with a mess.
To stay organized, “you may never use the word ‘later’ again,” he said.
“The moment you’ve used the word ‘later,’ you’ve given in.”