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qathet-based professional organizer celebrates milestone

Spring Home and Garden: Keeping life organized is a challenge for many, says Ranka Burzan
CLEARING CLUTTER: Ranka Burzan has been helping people “kick the clutter” from their lives for 20 years.

Before famous declutter guru Marie Kondo, there was professional organizer Ranka Burzan.

For the past 20 years, Burzan has seen her share of clutter, but also understands the psychology behind disorganization. 

“I have seen homes filled with multi-generational furniture they inherited, jumbled knickknacks, piles of shoes, papers and dishes,” said Burzan.

She believes people can change their habits, but that they have to be dedicated to make that change. Burzan has helped people from all strata of society; for example she worked with well-known BC doctor Gabor Mate, who had been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD) and needed help organizing his house. 

“Procrastination is a big reason for clutter to accumulate in your living space,” said Burzan. “Disorganization can start from a young age; if your parents didn’t teach you the basic discipline of organizing your space, then bad habits can form.” 

Attention deficit disorder and mental health issues such as depression can also contribute to the mess in one’s home and life. 

“There is a lot of shame that comes with being disorganized,” said Burzan. “Routine helps; do chores that you have to do, prevent [disorganization] before it happens.

“I know people get frustrated, they feel like screaming, and they feel overwhelmed when they look at their clutter.”

Burzan has been writing a column in the Peak for about four years now, sharing tips for qathet Regional District and City of Powell River residents on keeping a home or office organized, and she also talks a lot about mental blocks people have, when it comes to organization.

“I was always a minimalist, and in order to change you have to be brutally honest with yourself,” said Burzan. “[People have] a fear of failure, rejection and success. That’s why we stay in our comfort zone; humans don’t like change.”

Burzan looks at her work with people almost like a therapist.

“When I go in the house I assess the situation, first of all I focus on the positive,” said Burzan. “However, there are some spots that are bad or very messy, but first I’ll say, ‘Hey! Look, this is amazing, you organized this drawer so that means you can organize anything.” 

This technique is called positive reinforcement, the opposite of shame and punishment.

“My clients told me I apparently changed their life,” said Burzan.

At first she may get a client to organize a small area, such as the coffee table.

“We are visual creatures, and if we can see a clean, organized space, that will motivate the person to organize their whole space,” mentioned Burzan. “In order for you to move forward and get ‘unstuck’ you need to look at what’s happening in your mental state. You have to change your core beliefs about yourself.”

Some people have too much stuff, and to have more is not always better, she added.

“The question could be: why are they collecting this stuff? To fulfill something we are missing inside? You have to look inside. Why are you behaving this way, what’s the reason?”

But having too much stuff isn’t always the problem, many clients are suffering from social isolation, according to Burzan.

 “They are not only isolated from their community, but also their extended family,” she said. “They are embarrassed and feel shame, and people don’t want to visit because of the disorganization and mess.” 

Burzan said she had to find her purpose in life, in order to overcome some of her own challenges.

“I realized my purpose in life was to help people,” she added.

Her next talk and workshop is at the Texada Island Inn next month. For more information, go to