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NAPO-Ohio Blog

Tips & Tricks from the Experts in the Industry

This is the blog post from the home page of NAPO-Ohio.

  • 02 Oct 2016 5:16 PM | Olive Wagar (Administrator)



    When we really don’t want to do something, we tend to find a way to make it complicated. Then we have a good excuse for not doing it in the first place! We agonize over the cost of the supplies or how much time it will take. We over analyze the procedure and research way too many websites.

    How about a different approach?

    Start with SIMPLE!


    1. Decide to make your bed every morning.
    2. Decide to clean up the kitchen every night.
    3. Decide to wash/dry/and put away each load of laundry.
    4. Decide to sort your mail every day.
    5. Decide to immediately trash/recycle junk mail.
    6. Decide to create designated homes for items you use.
    7. Decide to put items away, not just anywhere, when finished using them.
    8. Decide to arrive 5 minutes early at your destinations.
    9. Decide to go to bed at the same time each night.
    10. Decide to get up at the same time each morning.


    1. Is this item beautiful?
    2. Is this item useful?
    3. Does this item make me smile?
    4. Does this item honor a loved one?
    5. How many do I have of this item?
    6. When did I last use this item?
    7. When exactly will I use this item again?
    8. Is this item broken, ruined, or obsolete?
    9. Would I pay to replace this item?
    10. Does someone else need this item more than I do?


    1. I never liked the ugly mess of internet cords on my kitchen shelf. How delighted I was to find a small crate to hide that mess and yet not interfere with my internet wireless service!
      20160811_085953 20160811_090109
    2. I’ve been looking for new bedroom curtains for several weeks. With 2 simple stitching lines, I can transform a pretty lace tablecloth into a pretty curtain panel!
    3. I wanted one place to track my monthly income and expenses. I created a simple one page Word chart that is concise, handy, and easy to use. The charts for the year all fit into a small binder with room for receipts and statements.
    4. I wanted my pantry to be useful and stocked with foods I really eat. I emptied all the shelves, sorted all the items, and only put back what I really use. I lined up the items like in a grocery store so I can quickly see what is available or needs replaced. I eliminated random specialty items for forgotten recipes! Other items were donated to a food drive.
    5. I wanted my kitchen cabinets to be easier to use. I emptied all the shelves, sorted all the items, and only kept what I really need and use for this season of my life. It is easier to find a particular dish and easier to put clean dishes away. And I even had room on the top shelf for some pretty “special occasion” dishes that I can now easily use every day!
    6. I wanted to expand the size of my flower beds. I bought one specially designed garden tool, “the garden weasel”, and managed to do the job myself on all 4 sides of my house!
    7. I like having a clean and tidy car. Every time I get out of the car, I collect up trash, papers, coupons, and cups. I keep a package of wet cleaning wipes under the front seat and quickly wipe up any spills. I store first aid supplies, personal supplies, treats, maps, and coupons in zippered pouches in the glove compartment or door pockets. I go to the  $5 car wash every month.
    8. This simple clip for my keys is actually quite useful and has saved me tons of time (slight exaggeration)! It easily slips on my purse handle, belt loop, or wall hook. Quite a deal for $1 or sometimes free at trade shows!



    Start with Simple: Simple decisions. Simple questions. Simple solutions.


    What is your favorite way to start with simple?

    Please read my weekly blog at www.organizedbyolive.com!

  • 15 Aug 2016 7:35 PM | Deleted user

    There is often fear and uncertainly that goes with the decision to hire a professional organizer. In the years I’ve been helping people get organized, I’ve heard many reasons why it takes someone so long to pick up the phone and call for help.

    Embarrassment. You don’t want anyone to see all your clutter.

    Organizers are professionals that are there to solve a problem, not pass judgment. They are compassionate and understand how someone can fall into the traps of disorganization.  In fact, it’s very important you don’t clean up before your organizer arrives so they can see exactly where your trouble spots are. I often tell people, “I’m not coming as your guest, so don’t rush around and hide things to make your home look neat.”

    Shame. You feel badly because you should know how to organize on your own.

    When clients bring this one up I tell them, “Organizing is not taught in school. Unless you had a very good role model along the way, it can be hard to know how to organize.”  This is especially true if you are more of a right-brain, creative type personality or have ADHD. It often doesn’t come naturally for you to categorize, which is an important skill when organizing.  The good news is organizing is a learned skill. An organizer can help you create systems, making it easy for you to find things.

    Fear. You’re afraid an organizer is going to make you throw everything away.

    Organizers do help you make tough decisions, but they can’t make you do anything.  As an organizer, I like to find out three things about my client so I can better serve them. I ask, “Who do you want to spend time with, what’s on your bucket list and what makes you happy?”  Once I know this, it’s my job to help you decide which items will help you reach your goals. Everything else you own will keep you from living the life you planned.

    Confidentiality. You’re worried because an organizer will know your personal matters.

    Organizing is about relationships. Just as therapists wouldn’t have a good business if they gossiped about their clientele, neither would an organizer.  Don’t know where to start. Just as you would rely on your surgeon to know how to carry out your operation, organizers know the process of getting organized. Once we find out your goals and tour your home or office, we’ll know where to start and will guide you through the process.

    Too expensive to hire someone. What is disorganization costing you, physically, emotionally and financially?

    Hiring an organizer is an investment. Organizers will teach you life-long skills so you can continue to organize long after they have gone.  Most organizers offer a free phone consultation. If you’re feeling overwhelmed in your home or office, call an organizer, share your fears and be ready to roll up your sleeves and get started.

    Lori Firsdon owns Forte Organizers in Centerville. She does onsite organizing and speaking engagements. For more organizing tips, visit www.ForteOrganizers.com.


    Lori Firsdon will teach an organizing class Saturday, January 23, from 10:30-Noon at the Jamestown Library, 86 Seaman Dr. Jamestown 45335. It’s titled “Super Systems: Organizing for a Stress-Free Life.” For information, call 937-352- 4005.

  • 01 Jul 2016 2:12 PM | Deleted user

    Overwhelm – it’s the number one reason for why my phone rings. Potential and current clients call, telling me that they don't know where to start. They have so much going on in their lives and all of the gear that goes with it. My answer? Don’t start – finish!  Let me explain…

    Two of my clients, Jane and Angela, have daughters who are in the elementary and high school plays, both of which occur in the spring.  The moms, artistic and theatrical by nature, volunteer to help each and every year.  They have craft rooms in their homes and love the creative process.

    The elementary school play goes first, so the ladies and their children get wrapped up with costume and set design, learning lines, and, keeping up with the usual onslaught of homework, other children’s activities, their own jobs, and life as they know it. It’s crazy in the beginning, but doable.  By the time the elementary play is over, though, both women and their families are well under-way with the high school play, going through the same preparations.  There is no visible breathing room between the plays, so once they’re in the thick of it, time is mostly spent putting out fires and getting immediate needs, costumes, sets, and activities taken care of.  It’s at this point that they start to yearn for the final curtain call.

    With the last bows finally taken, my clients, their children, and the rest of the family are resting peacefully with the satisfaction of an excellent job done, right? Nope - by the time the high school play is over, each of their craft rooms look like a Michael’s store exploded! There are sewing machines, fabric scraps, thread, paint, cardboard cutouts, beads, sequins, paper, glue, and any other crafting supply you can imagine on the floors, surfaces and walls, much of it spilling out into the dining room and any other surface that happened to be empty at the time. 

    Months later, around October, is when I get the first call.  “Ugh - the plays were finished months ago and my craft room looks like they haven’t even started!” says Jane.  Upon visiting, I see that she is, indeed, right.  There are supplies everywhere from both plays, along with other creative whims from the past decade or so.  We sit down, discuss how it got to this point, and determine – light bulb moment - they have so much crammed into each day and they don’t take the time to actually finish one thing before moving onto another.

    What I suggest to each of these ladies is to schedule a half hour within a day or two of the end of the elementary school play to clean up everything related to that specific play.  Ideally, they’ll involve the kids as a way of showing them the commitment they’ve signed up for and to teach them first-hand what an entire project looks like from true start to true finish. Once every scrap is put away and dealt with, they can officially call the first play over.  The room and all of their efforts are now officially dedicated to the second play.  Once the high school play is over, they need to schedule another half hour segment with the child involved, give that play the ‘done’ stamp, and the craft room can be used for new projects.

    The key in doing all of this is to define what ‘finished’ looks like to each of us.  If you’re a visual person, then close your eyes and get a good image going.  If you’re more of a tactile person, then draw it out.  If you’re a verbal learner, then describe it out loud to yourself and/or those involved.  Whichever style works best for you, remember it and strive for it.

    My kids, for example, know that we cannot eat dinner until they’ve ‘finished’ their homework, which means that books, pencils, and backpacks must be put away and the kitchen table cleared off.  Otherwise, we’re looking at double work - tossing things out of the way so we can eat and then going through it all again in the precious hour or so between dinner and bedtime.

    Because overwhelm is universal, this shift in thinking can be used in any situation, big or small. Write out your grocery list – put the pen away!  Get a bill in the mail – write the check and put it in the mailbox!  Finish writing a blog – put the laptop away!  One of my favorite bloggers, Glennon Doyle Melton, says that when you’re not sure what to do, ‘just do the next right thing.’  When you’re done with that ‘next right thing,’ then remind yourself that you just finished one WHOLE to-do – congratulate yourself!  This feeling of accomplishment will catapult you to the next right thing and the next and the next…

    Happy organizing everyone! 

  • 24 May 2016 7:10 PM | Deleted user

    It came home in backpacks, tote bags, and grocery bags the last week of school.  No need to let it marinade all summer in the back hall.

    Let’s sort it and the children and teens can help.  Set all the paper aside for the minute, and let’s get the low hanging fruit. Let’s pull out what can be salvaged for next year’s back to school--the scissors, the glue, pens, protractors, calculators and bag them up for August.  The worn crayons and pencils can be poured into the house stock for homework next year or bagged for summer trips.  Ready to deal with the papers?  Recycle any worksheets like fill-in-the-blank and multiplication tables right away.  Consider artwork, handprints, and essays for archiving. Finally, note any dates or events from school newsletters and recycle.  Feels good right? Enjoy the summer!

  • 03 May 2016 2:03 PM | Cathy Van Volkenburg CPO®

    Quick Tips for Transitioning in May

    By Cathy Van Volkenburg CPO®

    Certified Professional Organizer

    Owner of Accent on Organizing

    May is one of the busiest months of the year second only to December and the holiday rush. School ends and vacations begin. Graduations, showers and weddings are on everyone’s calendar. Ready for some quick tips to survive this month of spring flowers and major transitions?

    End of School:

    • Box up clothing and uniforms that can be worn next season – LABEL and MOVE to a basement or other storage area to free up space for summer items

    • Donate clothing that no longer fits

    • Box up school supplies that can be used in the fall – LABEL and MOVE out of the main area of the house

    • Review all of those art projects that have accumulated all year. KEEP 1 or 2 favorites.   Let the rest go after you have taken a picture and put them in a digital file with the child’s name and grade

    Invitation Overload

    • Immediately RSVP to the event! Enter the pertinent information on your calendar.

    • Go online and order a registry gift now – before the inventory is depleted and nothing is left to buy!  Save time and have the store wrap and ship the gift.

    • Come up with a signature gift. For baby showers, I always give the parents-to-be a combination of storage supplies to keep the many sizes of clothing in order. Get creative and include baby hangers, clothing rod size tags and pretty labels for the bins holding clothing the baby won’t fit into for months.

    Use my tips to save time, reduce stress and enjoy the spring!

    Happy Organized May!

  • 31 Mar 2016 10:21 PM | Ellen Limes, CPO® (Administrator)

    The kids are grown, the cavernous rooms echo, the toys in the basement haven’t been touched in years, so you think you should probably downsize and move.  Wait! What about the 45 years of accumulation of stuff??

    Fear not!  It didn’t accumulate overnight, so it’s not going to be emptied overnight.  But you can move with a plan in mind.  Before you have your realtor walk through, do some counter and cabinet clearing.  You are in your kitchen for hours each day.  You know the things you use. Look closely at the things you don’t use daily. Are you really going to use those things?  And there is a good chance the kids don’t want them either.  You can ask, but don’t be offended when they say no. Pull those items out and put them in a box to donate. But leave room in the box so you can close it.  It’s much easier to haul boxes and stack them in your car when they are closed and stackable.  You have to organize your discards as well!

    Every nook and cranny and drawer and cabinet needs to be addressed.  Whether you pack yourself or hire someone to pack, it is a lot easier if the junk of the junk drawers is sorted with like things.  It also is incredibly smoother on the other end when it comes time to unpack.  I have unpacked garbage cans and junk drawers that were just dumped onto packing paper and wrapped.  I don’t think you want to open a box with a mess in it and have to think about sorting it before you can find a home for it in your new home.

    You know there are certain areas of your home that you have been avoiding because you don’t know where to begin processing the things of yesteryear.  For those areas, I’d say get some help.  A Professional Organizer can help you make decisions and process the years of accumulation amazingly fast.  While you stare at the pile in dismay, they will help you work through the pile and move it on to another home or concur with your decision to purge the pile.

    An unbiased third party can help you process the things of life a lot quicker than you.   Consider the value of hiring a Professional Organizer before you move to save your sanity and expedite your move.

  • 01 Mar 2016 4:47 PM | Julie Riber, CPO®

    Recently, I worked with an elderly couple who had decades of things to clean out of their large home so they could move into a small apartment in a retirement village.  The couple had been married for 40+ years and had lived in several houses with their children and random pets.  Years ago they had retired and focused on enjoying their lives, traveling and nurturing relationships with friends and family.  They kept accumulating things without thinking much about how they were going to deal with it when the time came to downsize.  The wife, Mary, in an attempt to purge, had a few yard sales here and there but she mostly left her husband’s things out of it.   

    I received the call two short months before they were to move - a snug time frame by anyone’s standards, but even more so when dealing with a lifetime of things to go through, a major change in the size of their home, and more than their share of physical ailments.  Ed had a couple hard falls recently, as had Mary.  In addition, they suffered from other ‘normal’ ailments due to plain-old aging, including arthritis, memory loss, poor eyesight, and hearing difficulties.  The process was by nature going to be slow and difficult and it was my job to make it quick and easy. 

    In addition to time and physical restraints, I needed to assist the couple with uncovering what they wanted to take with them to their new home.  Ed was a book and records lover and Mary had memoirs, heirlooms and keepsakes that needed gone through.  The closest family member was amazing throughout the process, but she was an hour and a half away and could only come about once a month. Their other two sons, many miles away with full lives of their own, were not able to be of much assistance, nor did they want to absorb many of their parents’ treasures.   

    In the end, I’m proud to say that the job got done, but not without some major consequences.  Most of the items in the house had to be donated, a small percentage of the items were sold, and the garbage, recycling, and shredding bins filled up over and over and over again.  Ed was heartbroken through the process because of not being able to physically help more and because of having to donate most of his treasured books, records, and other items that he thought would be worth something when the time came.  Additionally, shortly after the move, they both ended up hospitalized.  This was not what either of them wanted in terms of the ending to so many happy years in their old house, or the beginning of a new life in their lovely new retirement village. 

    As much as I loved working with this couple, I was struck daily with the lesson - DO IT WHEN YOU CAN! 

    Now, that’s easy to say and yes, easy for me to do, but I get that it might not be for others.  The point is that the physical and emotional strain is much less if you do it bit by bit.  The whole ‘ripping a Band-Aid off quickly’ thing doesn’t work as well with organizing.  The important thing to always keep in mind, then, is that you can break it down into small, non-conventional chunks in whatever way suits you.  

    Here are some suggestions of the tiniest things that mostly anyone can do in less than 5 minutes: 

    • One drawer (desk, kitchen, garage, dresser, etc.)
    • One file folder in a filing cabinet
    • One shelf (kitchen, bookshelf, etc.)
    • Fill one bag of stuff from your car and make a decision on those items
    • Choose three pair of shoes and decide if you want them, where to put them, etc.
    • One foot of clothing hanging in your closet (get out your measuring tape - why not?)
    • Set a timer for four minutes and see what you can get done.  When the timer goes off, stop and treat yourself. 

    Come up with your own parameters and encourage those sharing your space to do the same - whatever you need to do to keep moving forward.  I’m currently working with another elderly woman and after our first session, her homework from me was to go through TWO pieces of paper daily.  That’s it - TWO.  She did it and was proud of her progress.

    Think outside of the box and allow yourself to do whatever you are capable of.  Rome was not built in a day, and Caesar did not clean out his throne room in a day, either.  


  • 01 Feb 2016 4:23 PM | Julie Riber, CPO®

    When helping clients sort and purge, organizers often come across a number of items clients have that they do not know they have such as shopping bags and delivery boxes stuffed with purchases the client may not remember acquiring.  Sometimes clients have items they intended to return but have not yet found the time to do so.  Many clients have gifts they purchased with someone particular in mind for a birthday or a holiday and that gift is hidden under the piles.  Organizing is often as much about learning to control the obtaining as well as parting with items.

    Many times the acquisition of things is more of a thrill than the item itself for people that struggle with disorganization.  People are drawn to an item priced at clearance 80% off, or the most clever hand mixer they have ever seen (even though they already own a hand, stand and stick mixer).  Many decide to shop for new clothes for a night out even though they already have a closet full.  Many clients see shopping as a stress relief or leisure activity, which is perfectly okay until they feel it is interfering with the life they want to lead or their vision of an organized home.

    Imposing a designated waiting period like 24 or 48 hours before making purchases large or small can help dilute the desire to acquire and that instant gratification they need.  People with acquisition issues often find when they walk away from an item for a period of time, the want of that item diminishes.  That time away from the item can help the person evaluate their need versus their want. 

    Others struggle with impulse control as part of their executive function in the brain.  In these cases, professional organizers work in tangent with counselors to develop an action plan to address the client’s issues with shopping and/or acquisition. The plan may include various therapy exercises and in some cases medication which helps the client with impulse control. 

    Regardless of how or why people have developed issues with purchasing or acquiring items, there are many professionals such as professional organizers and therapists who can help re-train those habits and rituals.  The professionals with National Association of Professional Organizers are a great jumping off point for those looking to work on their shopping habits and bring order to items in their home.

    Christy Lingo, Professional Organizer, Simple Solutions Design  

  • 05 Jan 2016 3:26 PM | Julie Riber, CPO®

    Welcome to a new year, a fresh page, a new start! Do you anticipate with excitement the adventures of a new year…or do you dread a rerun of past failures and disappointments? Take advantage of this new year by resolving to organize your life.

    What does it mean to resolve? According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, it means:

    • ·        “to deal with successfully”
    • ·        “to reach a firm decision about”

    I like the optimistic spirit of those definitions! When I resolve, I make a conscious choice. I do not just wait to see what will happen in my life. I do not let my emotions distract me from the important goals of my life. I choose to decide what I want my life to look like. For example,

    • ·        If I resolve to have a clean kitchen, I wash the dishes every night.
    • ·        If I resolve to pay my bills on time, I schedule a bill paying time every Monday.
    • ·        If I resolve to have less clutter, I put the newspaper in the recycle bin each night.
    • ·        If I resolve to get up earlier, I go to bed at a consistent time each night.
    • ·        If I resolve to get out of debt, I only use cash when I am shopping.
    • ·        If I resolve to have a clean house, I do one household chore every day.
    • ·        If I resolve to have a tidy closet, I donate clothes I don’t like or don’t wear.

    Resolutions without specific actions are useless. Resolutions with actions are powerful!

    It is possible to make too many resolutions! It is much better to focus on just one thing at a time. Give yourself 4 to 6 weeks to consistently practice that one thing. When you focus, you finish! Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, says it this way:

    “What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.”

    Change just one habit. Do it today. Then do it tomorrow. Keep repeating until it becomes a new part of your daily routine. If you mess up one day, just start again the next day. In a recent newsletter, NAPO member Donna Smallin shared this appropriate quote from John Maxwell:

    “You will never change your life until you change something you do daily.

     The secret to success is found in your daily routine.”

    So start small, but dream big! Envision your success, one day at a time.

    Resolve to have an organized 2016!

    Check out the NAPO-OH directory to find a professional organizer near you.

  • 02 Dec 2015 4:03 PM | Julie Riber, CPO®

    Anyone who has ever faced a closet full of out-of-season or too-small clothes, a playroom full of unused kids’ toys, or a basement full of unwanted belongings knows that purging can be a frustrating and exhausting job. It’s overwhelming to make decisions about so much stuff!

    What happens when we re-think the job at hand? Instead of seeing your clean-up efforts as an irritating and time consuming job, think of those clothes, toys and random belongings as gifts or work opportunities for others who are less fortunate.

    Consider these options:

    Professional clothing, shoes and work appropriate accessories (such as briefcases, planners, jewelry, etc.) can help build confidence and encourage individuals seek to reenter the workforce.

    Toys that are gently used, cleaned, and include all their parts can help a struggling family enjoy a bountiful holiday season.

    Your donated electronic equipment (working or not) can provide employment for disabled workers at Goodwill Industries facilities across the country.

    The home décor items that you are tired of, may be the perfect low-priced gift for someone’s dear friend, co-worker or relative.

    What do you need to get rid of? Who can benefit from these items?

    One year, our family rounded up many years’ worth of leftover craft supplies … really, just a bit of this and that!  With cute recycled baskets and containers, cello wrap and ribbon, we created 10 “Craft Buckets” and donated them to a toy drive that benefits struggling families in our community. Because I have 4 daughters who loved to craft when they were younger, I know that 10 little girls were very happy and creative that Christmas! It made me happy, too … knowing that all those odds-and-ends would be put to good use!

    During this season of giving, consider your unwanted clothing, electronics, toys and décor … how can your purged items be a gift to someone in your community?   

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