Video: Peter Walsh discusses office organizing and answers an Unclutterer’s question

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of interviewing Oprah’s go-to organizer, the organizing star of Clean Sweep, and all-around fantastic gentleman Peter Walsh. We talked about office organizing and his new line of products he designed for Office Max — you.organized. At the end of the interview, I posed him a question from Unclutterer readers Klyla, Jackie Pettus, and Lose That Girl (their questions were on a similar theme, so I merged them into one mega question). As always, his tips and answers were insightful and incredibly helpful:

After the interview, he e-mailed MORE organizing tips:

  • To-Do Lists: When writing a to-do list, group alike tasks together such as making calls or running errands to increase efficiency. But avoid getting overwhelmed with your workload by breaking it into small, manageable tasks. Write to-do list items on individual sticky notes and put them on a wall calendar. Rearrange them as your priorities change. At the end of the day, review your checklist and cross off completed items. Move any pending items to a fresh list for tomorrow.
  • Calendars: You might feel like multiple schedules lead to more confusion. For a little planning relief, combine home and work calendars. Simply choose various colors to mark important dates: one for professional tasks and meetings, one for personal appointments, one for social engagements, one for your children’s activities, and so on.
  • Closing Thoughts: Remember that your desk sends a clear signal about who you are and how you approach your work. You should have an organized desk at the start and finish of every day.

He also included an closeup image of the vertical storage system from the video:

Thanks again to Peter for taking time out of his busy schedule to talk with Unclutterer, Office Max for setting up the interview, and Klyla, Jackie Pettus, and Lose That Girl for asking such a terrific question. I must admit, it was nice to know that his systems fall apart from time-to-time, too! A great reminder that we’re all human.

28 Comments for “Video: Peter Walsh discusses office organizing and answers an Unclutterer’s question”

  1. posted by Ronique Gibson on

    Thank you for the great interview!

    On calendars, I find it helpful to not only use colors, but to make sure 1 calendar at work, links to my iphone, and links to my husband. So we send calendar items for work, home, even small stuff – “pick up milk tonight”, and make it a calendar item. It helps you not have 50 post it notes everywhere! It also helps not having to ask your hubby or “nag” as they’d like to call it, all the time. Everyone’s calendar already has “to-do” items.

  2. posted by Changing Spaces on

    I LOVE that your interview with Peter was a video — he is just so adorable and likable, is he not? I’m looking forward to even more video posts from you, Erin!

  3. posted by Tim on

    Nice post/video, thanks. I am just wondering: Is it me or my browner or is it not possible to enlarge the video? It displays at about 6 cm x 5 cm on my 24″ monitor, which is annoyingly small imho.

  4. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Tim — Let me ask and see if I can get it up to 425 pixels wide …

  5. posted by fjuan on

    He would make Monica from Friends uncomfortable. 🙂

  6. posted by Ali on

    I love this guy and I really love the products he has created (message board reminds me of the pottery barn one) but I really really love the ottaman. I went online to buy it but you have to buy the whole desk system? I would also love to buy the bill caddy too but no must buy the entire system? I think that is weird maybe I did not understand what it was saying – anyone else experience the same thing?

  7. posted by Lose That Girl on

    He’s so great! Love him! Thanks for using my question, Erin! Ah, he’s heard my web nickname! 😉

    Erin, do you know if his Office Max product line is carried in Canada at another retailer? I don’t think Office Max exists up here.

    I’m with Changing Spaces – it would be great to see more videos with you, Erin here on Unclutterer.

  8. posted by RJ on

    Bummer, as I’m deaf and don’t know what is said on the video. 🙁 Can anyone give the gist or the tips he gave on the video? TIA and have a great day.

  9. posted by Splomo on

    Hey, RJ. I can give you Peter’s points, with some paraphrasing from me. HTH. 🙂

    The first guideline for managing paper in a home office organizing is to work hard to keep surfaces clear. Surfaces are for working, not for storage.

    Second, establish zones so incoming papers have a home, which limit the volume of stuff and forces you to process/put away. Examples of Zones include spaces for items that need immediate attention, with a separate area for non-urgent items (Projects, Research materials, files for reference). The tools you use most often should be easiest to reach. As an example of zone placement, he describes the way the controls of an automobile are located within the driver’s arm’s reach.

    Peter has a line of zone-friendly products for home managers sold through OfficeMax called “You Organized.” The storage ottoman contains hanging files and the lid can be used as a lap desk/laptop tray. Other examples of zone-defining products include the file tray, a portable mail caddy (for incoming action-items with checkbook, pens, stamps, etc.) and a charging station for handheld devices.The vertical modular boards are rail mounted and reconfigurable, with magnets to move pieces around.

    Reader-submitted questions ask Peter how organized/cluttered he is really, when traveling. He keeps organized by defining what is important. When traveling, Peter uses a single clear folder from his [In] Place System per project to keep the papers contained, and bringing along only what he needs.
    Peter has established to the members of his household that the desk or workspace is “sacred space” and doesn’t permit anyone to drop things there just because it is a flat surface.

    Off the record, he admits he does have organizational hiccups, too.

  10. posted by Splomo on

    Also, have to say, I love the cow creamer, aka singing cow, in the kitchen office and want to use one now just to store and pour paper clips. Hee.

  11. posted by infmom on

    Our old house has precious little wall space to begin with, so that organizer system would not work here. But I get what he’s saying about flat surfaces not being used for storage. In other words, yes, I really do need to clean off the top of my desk. 🙂

  12. posted by RJ on

    @ Splomo, thank you so much! I really appreciate it very much. This helps me tremendously. Have a great day!

  13. posted by MaxManager on

    The storage ottoman, mail caddy, charging station and letter bins all come as part of the desk and are not available separately. I also wish they were available individually but it is my understanding that there are currently no plans to make them available on their own. Voice your opinion @officemax on twitter.

  14. posted by Marilyn on

    Thanks for sharing his tips after the show. How were you found to be one of the ones asking the questions? How exciting to pick up more office tips from a professional.

  15. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Splomo — A fantastic recap for RJ. Thank you!

    @Max and @Lose — I know all of the wall pieces come separately. I’ll put in an e-mail to Office Max and ask about the desktop supplies.

  16. posted by STL Mom on

    I’m not a fan of online videos. I feel like I can get the information more easily and remember it better if I read it than if I watch it. Also, my ancient laptop often stalls when I try to watch videos.
    So thanks from me too, Splomo!
    Now I need to clean my desk…

  17. posted by Jo on

    Another thanks to Splomo for the written version! (And to RJ for asking)

  18. posted by Beth Cleveland on

    Hi All – Erin let me know there were some questions about the availability of products from Peter Walsh’s new you.organized brand at OfficeMax.

    The entire collection of wall boards, modular magnetic wall accessories and console table are available individually.

    The workspace desk, desktop accessories (designed to fit seamlessly on the desktop) and storage ottoman are packaged as a set for $199.99.

    I have shared your feedback with OfficeMax regarding your interest in purchasing these items individually. Thanks so much for all your interest and thoughts on Peter Walsh’s new collection!

  19. posted by klutzgrrl on

    What a great guy. Gotta love Aussie blokes.

    I hope he doesn’t forget his homeland and brings that range out here with Officeworks in Australia. I want that system, brilliant. Simple and elegant. Especially the boards – my pinboards always look so scruffy.

  20. posted by Kaz in Oz on

    Klutzgrrl I was thinking the same thing. I saw a great Mum’s Control Centre pinboard setup in a display home near me, but all it was was a huge bit of Caneite covered in fabric with a nice frame around it and a bench height desk setup underneath. I’m trying to setup something in our kitchen/family room so hubby can have the study when he goes back to uni in July, and Peter’s system would be awesome. Looks like I’ll have make my own though.

    I also turned the sound up loud while listening so I could move around the roomk and tackle the desk. Talk about an inspiration, it’s almost clear!

  21. posted by Rachel on

    @RJ – thanks for asking for a synopsis! I am also deaf.

    @Splomo, thanks from me, too. Very sweet of you.

  22. posted by Jackie Pettus on

    Thank you Erin and Peter for the fun and informative video! The wall system is fabulous. I’m going to hike down to Office Max this weekend and get some components. My home office is small, and I’ve been “guilty” of using what little horizontal work space I have for storage. With a wall system I think I can get most of it up and out of the way.

  23. posted by Ali on

    Thank you Beth! I already have a desk (actually a hutch b/c I have limited space) so I don’t need the other items – it would be a waste to the environment to buy the entire system – not everyone has a need for a new desk.

  24. posted by Sky on

    Erin and Peter together….organizational heaven! :o)

  25. posted by Jen on

    I have his book and love it, but I never watched Clean Sweep or Oprah when he was on- and I had no idea he is Australian! Anyone else surprised here? Just me? Huh. Anyway, next time I reread “It’s All Too Much” I am going to have to change the voice in my head.

    Love the Ottoman.

  26. posted by Jo on

    Is it bad that my desk is a TV tray?

  27. posted by That Bookkeeper » Video: Peter Walsh Interview on Unclutterer on

    […] Original Post: Video: Peter Walsh discusses office organizing and answers an Unclutterer’s question | Unclutterer. […]

  28. posted by Matt on

    Just curious if the set is all solid wood, or if it is partiolly engineered wood? I was going to buy a new desk and this is right in my price range, but it needs to be solid wood.

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