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Blog: Organize This!
Organizing issues similar all over the world

One of my favorite endeavors as a professional organizer is taping a radio program called 'Organize This!' which airs on BoomerGenerationRadio.com. The format of the program consists of my ruminations (and sometimes rantings) about CRAP. CRAP is an acronym I made up a long time ago before I became a professional organizer and it means Clutter that Robs Anyone of Pleasure. Don't get me wrong, I love my stuff, but I enjoy it and honor it by using it or displaying it; otherwise, it's gone.
During the program I also offer organizing tips and explore the root of the dilemma called disorganization. I receive lots of feedback by e-mail, but the biggest surprise is not only do they listen from California to Hawaii to Florida and back to Alaska; but there are listeners with organizing issues in Brazil, Australia, Germany, Kuwait, India, and Nova Scotia. Their comments mirror the same issues my clients bring to me such as dealing with too much stuff, selling a home and downsizing. More often, the issues go deeper and revolve around organizing dilemmas due to personal crisis in their family, their life, and their country. The listener from India talks about his country being unorganized which makes it hard for its people to be organized. He thinks a professional organizer could make a lot of money in India, but I can't comprehend what it must be like trying to get organized in a country with broader issues at stake other than trying to organize your stuff.
I also can't help but wonder how homeowners in these countries view their clutter and what "too much stuff" in America looks like compared to "too much stuff" in Japan? For instance, the average American home swelled from 983 square feet in 1950 to 2,349 square feet in 2006 according to National Association of Home Builders statistics. That's a 140 percent increase! Of course, averages vary greatly from rural to urban settings, but the average for a Japanese home is 1021 according to a 2003 Housing and the and Land Survey conducted by the Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications and the average home in India is even less. Can we even imagine fitting all our stuff into a space as small as that? If you have been to the IKEA store in Conshohocken, there is an apartment on display that boasts living in a space of 590 square feet. Some apartment dwellers in New York City might find that roomy!
One of my clients indicated that she was moving to Japan and would have to shed one-third of her belongings, store one-third, and take one-third with her. To quickly prioritize your belongings, imagine having to shed two-thirds of your possessions. What is most precious to you and what is just 'stuff'? Another exercise I like to perform to quickly prioritize the necessities in my life is to think about going on vacation and what I must take with me. How much can I do without and what is non-negotiable when it comes to the things that are precious and necessary to me? It doesn't take too long to realize that it's not the stuff in my life that is important, but the people that make it richer.     

Clutter Quote: "Stuff has power, and the stuff we own has power—power for good or power for ill. It's up to us to decide how we use the stuff we own." Peter Walsh

posted on: 3/12/2011 2:30:00 PM by Vali Heist
category: General Organizing Tips

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Organize This!

by Vali Heist

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About Vali:

Vali Heist is a Certified Professional Organizer, the owner of The Clutter Crew for homeowners, and a Certified GO System Trainer for businesses. She is the author of "Organize This! Practical Tips, Green Ideas, and Ruminations about your CRAP. CRAP stands for Clutter that Robs Anyone of Pleasure! She writes a monthly column for the Reading Eagle called "Organize This!". Vali's bachelor's degree is in Business Administration from Shippensburg University and her Master's Degree is in Higher Education from Kutztown University. Vali has an extensive background of 24 years in Higher Education including training, administration, project management, writing, and editorial production. Her passion has always been organization and how it relates to the simplification of work and personal life in order to enjoy both to the fullest. Her ultimate goal is to continue finding simple, easy to implement ideas that work in the real world and pass them on to her clients.

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