Katie Couric Confesses: "I Used to Be Called Pig-Pen!"

Follow the journalist's journey from By Katie Couric

After a lifetime of battling clutter, Katie's declared that enough is enough. Left, Katie, eating dinner on the floor of her home office, amid her piles. Photo by Meredith Kennedy.

When I lived in Washington, DC, after college, my then-roommate called me "Pig-Pen." It was a well-deserved nickname: A few months prior, as a senior at the University of Virginia, I'd lived on The Lawn, a particularly picturesque area of campus. Outside my dorm room were pristine pavilions and lush, grassy courts. But inside my room was a mess of epic proportions. Three Mile Island was an easier cleanup.

On graduation day, my parents were driving down from our home in Arlington, VA. I figured I had about an hour to create some semblance of cleanliness-or at least an upgrade from biohazard status. I stowed clothes in drawers, stuffed papers and books in cubbies, and came up with what I thought was a really creative way to tackle my pile of dirty dishes: I hid them in the trunk of my car.

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This is a true story that I'd like to chalk up to my youth-but sadly, history recently repeated itself. This past December, I was cleaning out my apartment before a holiday party. Cut to me in the garage, stuffing boxes of junk into the back of my minivan. A poster of Audrey Hepburn stared back at me, as if to say, "Really?!?" It was the wakeup call I needed: Holly Golightly helped me see the light.

To be clear, my home isn't dirty; it's just disorganized. My home office has become ground zero for my hoarder ways, with magazines piled waist-high and enough pairs of reading glasses to open an optical shop of my own. Oh, and an American Classics VHS film collection lining the top of a bookcase. As I removed a dusty Gone with the Wind during that epic cleaning day, I conjured up my best Scarlett O'Hara: "As God is my witness, I'll never be messy again!"

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So, I've begun. Over and over, scientific studies have linked clutter and disorganization to depression, anxiety and general unhappiness, and I can tell you, clearing up your space helps clear your mind as well. I'm a happy person, for sure, but I'm even happier with a clean house.

I've set goals that are simple-things like, always put a dirty dish into the dishwasher. (There's a much higher likelihood of it getting cleaned there than in the trunk of a Dodge.) When I'm in my home office, I force myself to tackle one pile before leaving.

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My new mantra is, "When in doubt, throw it out." If it's worth donating, recycling or selling, go for it. Otherwise, right into the trash.

Old habits
die hard, so I'm not expecting miracles overnight. But finally, at age 56, I can say with a certain amount of pride: There's no more junk...in my actual trunk.

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