Spring Cleaning

Part of this has to do with controlling what we can control, since it seems like there’s so much in the larger world that we feel we can’t. … People feel out of control. If I can get my eight foot cubicle under control, well, at least I’ve won that battle and I have that place set.

Jane Von Bergen on Open Source

Click to Listen to the Show (24 MB MP3)

Inconspicuous Consumption [Michael Basial/Flickr]

In the pursuit of getting organized people are trading in their “more is more??? mantra for the simplicity and ease of “less.??? Mies van der Rohe would be proud.

A cottage industry of personal organizers has been perpetuated by McMansions that are overflowing with stuff, thanks to superstores such as Wal-Mart and the infinite shopping possibilities offered online. Martha Stewart is another unwitting culprit: women are inspired to have a-home-for-all-seasons and if that means having a personal warehouse chocked full of patio umbrellas, scarecrows, and velvet window treatments, so be it.

The problem with clutter starts at the store but the real issue is the hardship of parting with what we have. For many, each object signifies an opportunity, a possibility. That rowing machine you never use carries the potential for fantastic abs, that video camera and tripod: your screening at Sundance. Sentimental value is another heartstring that ties us to such things as boxes upon boxes of photographs and childhood toys.

Getting organized is no easy feat. In many ways it’s akin to therapy. We have to change our habits, organize our brain and hardest of all, distinguish what we want from what we need.

In this hour we’ll talk about our culture of consumption. We’ll also talk clutter: clutter in the home, clutter in the office, clutter in the brain. By the show’s end we’ll also learn how to get out of this mess.

Is your living room more like a landfill? Do you walk into the store to buy batteries but leave with a carload of goods? Is spending thousands on a personal organizer, to sort through our thousands of dollars worth of “junk,??? symptomatic of a societal ill, or is this the only way–in a land of abundance–that we can short-circuit what we’re hard-wired to do: hunt and gather?

Aricia LaFrance

Psychotherapist, life coach and personal organizer On her site you’ll notice that she has a new CD, “Getting it Together,” which covers the basics of organizing as well as information on customizing a plan based on your personality type

Grant Mccracken

Research affiliate in the Comparative Media Studies at MIT, blogger This Blog Sits at the Intersection of Anthropology and Economics, and author Culture and Consumption II: Markets, Meaning and Brand Management

Jane Von Bergen

Journalist for the Philadelphia Inquirer and blogging about mess and the workplace at Digging Out

Recommended Reading

David Allen, Getting Things Done

Barbara Hemphill, Taming the Paper Tiger

Gary Thorp, Sweeping Changes:Discovering the Joy of Zen in Everyday Tasks

Special thanks to personal organzier Margaret Crawford for suggesting these books

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