Wednesday, May 30, 2007

What's New In Organizing?

I just returned from the annual National Association of Professional Organizers conference in Minneapolis. This year’s conference truly celebrated NAPO’s mission to “develop, lead, and promote professional organizers and the organizing industry.” NAPO gave the inaugural certification exam for professional organizers to a little over 200 people, who will learn of their results in mid-June. Certification is an important industry development as it sets a standard for skill sets in the professional organizing industry. There were about 900 attendees at the conference from all over the world who gathered to learn about the latest trends and resources in the organizing industry.

There are many societal trends affecting the profession of organizing. With these trends come new opportunities for professional organizers. Consider how the nature of “work” has changed. Technology has allowed us to accomplish more in less time, but it has brought a new set of problems. Managing email and electronic documents is a nightmare for many people. Mobile phones allow us constant accessibility regardless of our location, but the cost is the erosion of personal boundaries. Telecommuting and flextime may reduce the amount of time spent in the office, but personal time management issues may be exacerbated with the diminished structure. Additionally, the car has become the satellite office. The field of professional organizing has an opportunity to address these challenges by teaching how to be productive despite the shifting work landscape and how to invest productivity gains into rest and leisure.

Rapid technology changes affect children as well as adults. Schools today are different from the schools thirty or fifty years ago. Changes in the family structure can complicate and fragment the lives of children. In this shifting environment it may be difficult for some children to internalize organizational structures. The resulting disorganization affects school performance and home life. The goal of the emerging specialty of educational organization is to help children develop the organizational skills necessary for success in school and life.

Although many people are aware that learning disabilities affect children, few people realize that learning disabilities affect adults as well. Organizers who specialize in helping clients with learning disabilities and brain injuries can assist their clients in successfully working around their individual challenges with creative solutions and strategies.

One of the major societal trends is the “graying of America.” Downsized living and getting one’s affairs in order have created the need for organizers who are sensitive to the needs of the senior population and well-versed in the legal and ethical implications of the issues facing seniors. As baby-boomers enter retirement, the demand for organizers specializing in this area is expected to increase.

Recent weather-related disasters have created another specialty of organizers who assist their clients in navigating through the practical aspects of recovery. From filing insurance claims to managing the project of rebuilding, these organizers can provide real help when people are still shaking from the disaster.

Underscoring all of these specialties is the industry’s ability to respond to a wide variety of challenges with strategies that promote productivity and success while encouraging balance. The focus has gone beyond efficiency management to enhancing lifestyles through organizing principles. It really is an exciting time to be in the organizing industry.
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