Cal State Fullerton American studies professor Carrie Lane can discuss how and why many Americans are eager to declutter and organize their stuff. 

Many people hire professional organizers in part due to the busy nature of modern American life. Organizational challenges, Lane said, are a symptom of how overworked and overwhelmed people feel by the increasing demands of their professional and personal lives.

Research by the Huffington Post found that 84% of Americans worry their homes aren’t organized or clean enough, and more than half of those folks say that clutter is causing them stress. A UCLA study found that women who perceive their homes as messy or cluttered experience both increased stress levels and lower levels of marital satisfaction.

“Whether you're talking about Marie Kondo, Swedish Death Cleaning or The Home Edit's color-coded rainbow aesthetic, these trends show us that many American households are struggling to stay organized,” Lane said.

Lane studies the organizing profession, which was founded by women in the late 1970s and early 1980s and has since become a huge industry spawning hundreds of organizing books, blogs and TV shows.

After many hours working alongside organizers, Lane can explain how the organizing process works in real life, which is different from the abbreviated and dramatized version shown on reality TV shows.

“At its core, organizers’ work is more about building empathetic, supportive relationships than it is about tucking items away in pretty color-coded boxes,” Lane said.

Lane’s new book, "More Than Pretty Boxes: How the Rise of Professional Organizing Shows Us the Way We Work Isn’t Working,” comes out in November. Her book explores the challenges and solutions of professional organizing, and offers insights into managing possessions in today’s fast-paced world.

“Just a few years ago, organizers were still having to explain what they did to folks who hadn’t heard of their profession,” Lane said. “Today, organizing is a household name, and the membership of organizing’s largest professional association, the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals, has expanded nearly 400% in less than two decades.”

About Cal State Fullerton: 

The largest university in the CSU and the only campus in Orange County, Cal State Fullerton offers more than 100 degree programs and Division 1 athletics. Recognized as a national model for supporting student success, CSUF excels with innovative, high-impact educational practices, including faculty-student collaborative research, study abroad and competitive internships. CSUF is a top public university known for its success in supporting first-generation and underrepresented students, and preparing all students to become leaders in the global marketplace. Our vibrant and diverse campus is a primary driver of workforce and economic development in the region. Visit

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