300,000 Things

How many items are contained within the walls of your home? It is 30,000 or 300,000? Is the volume too little? Too much? Or just enough?

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In 2014, during an interview with an LA Times journalist, I once again referenced “300,000 things.” A year later a blogger contacted me to get the reference for “300,000 things” and, with surety, I turned to my bookcase to look it up. – Much to my dismay I wasn’t able to find it! This has haunted me ever since because I get inquires several times a year. Google “300,000 things” and you’ll find me, page after page. It’s been cited as law. It’s crazy! To anyone who inquires, I send a template letter confessing my sin for not having the reference. I let inquiring minds know that I never conducted a study on this topic nor have I ever laid claim to conducting a study. However, an excellent reference book that highlights the number of items in the rooms of average middle class homes is a UCLA study (and where I thought for sure this 300,000 number would be revealed) may be found at https://www.amazon.com/Life-Home-Twenty-First-Century-Families/dp/1931745617/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1466375054&sr=8-1&keywords=life+at+home+in+the+21st+century.

The photos in the book certainly tell a big story of what’s happening in the homes of many people.
I didn’t begin my professional life as an organizer. Rather, I spent the bulk of my career in higher education – as a student, a professor, and an administrator. Budget cuts in 2008 led to a job lay-off at the tender age of 50. It was the beginning of the 2008 recession and the first time in my life that I couldn’t find a job. So I created one.
In those first few months of stepping foot into A Clear Path, I read everything I could put my hands on the topic of de-cluttering and organizing. One thing I remember reading impressed the hell out of me: The average household contains about 300,000 things.
In order to grow my company, I needed clients, which I found by speaking to numerous groups and organizations about clutter, and where I often referenced “300,000 things.”
I’ve asked some colleagues and a few clients to conduct informal surveys in their clients’ home or in their own home. We’ve concluded that items in homes could very well number up 300,000 if one were to count every single thing from underpants to office supplies to photographs to silverware.

I’m serious. Go room-by-room in your home, starting with the kitchen. Count:
• pots and pans and lids
• storage containers (and their lids!)
• utensils, plates, cups and bowls
• spices
• cereal boxes

You get where I’m going? Next up, do the living room.
• Books in bookcases, tsotchkies on shelves
• TV, speakers, laptops, and myriad techy stuff
• A couch, chairs, and fluffy pillows
Dining room? Where do you eat? Count chairs, a table, cupboard, and table linens. And don’t forget candle holders and candles.
I often see a lot of stuff in home offices. My clients love office supply stores, and here’s what they take home:
• Packets of Post-it Notes in several sizes and colors and shapes.
• Copy paper, envelopes, file folders, hanging file folders, boxes filled with notecards and thank you notes, and birthday cards.
• Wrapping paper.
• Tape, scissors, stapler and staples.
• This is actually a nearly endless list – but you get the drift.
• Oh, and don’t forget the box of cords.
Let’s move to the bedroom. How many pair of black pants does one need to own? Start counting:
• Shirts and blouses
• Undergarments
• Socks, shoes, purses, totes, robes, work-out clothes, jackets, belts. And all the furniture.
Don’t forget the bathroom.
And this is a small house!
I’ve often wondered if I had it in me to conduct a study about the average number of items the average household contained. If 300,000 things is where we land, it would be nice to finally put the query to bed. And I will never be out of work again.

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