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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.

  • 01 Jul 2015 12:01 PM | Julie Riber, CPO®

    Happy 4th of July!  As we celebrate this mid-summer holiday, we reflect on the many freedoms we enjoy as Americans.  Independence takes on many different meanings depending on whom you talk with.  As a professional organizer, I would like to share one meaning of the word independence through the lens of my business.

    Often my clients reach out to me out of sheer frustration with their spaces.  It can be a home office, a kitchen or a basement.  Where the space is located doesn’t matter.  The frustration stems from an overwhelming amount of “stuff” that they have accumulated.  All of the emotions associated with this “stuff” can block one’s ability to take action and make decisions about the items.

    Our belongings serve us in many ways.  Some items are purely functional.  Other items nurture us by bringing beauty to our homes or inspiring us every day.  There often comes a tipping point when we have items in our homes or offices that do not serve us but rather they engulf us!  If you have had that sinking feeling when an item no longer brings you joy yet you feel compelled to keep it.  Don’t despair. 

    Get a new perspective on your belongings by slipping on a new set of glasses in which to objectively view your “stuff”.  If items are sitting in boxes unused, unloved and not needed…set them free.  That’s right, give them independence and a new purpose in life by donating or selling them so someone else may use and enjoy them.  View your belongings as objects that either add to your life or detract from your life.  I can guarantee that if you no longer want or use an item, there is someone out there who would be thrilled to liberate it from the back of your closet.  Many communities have freecycle sites that allow you to find a home for an item that no longer serves you.  Set it free.  By setting your items free, you are gaining more space.  With less items to store and clean and take care of, you are gaining more free time.  When viewing your items through an objective lens, you can empower yourself to make the decision to free an item.  Cheers to your independence from “stuff” that does not serve you well.


  • 01 Jun 2015 1:07 PM | Julie Riber, CPO®

    You have a mountain of books so what do you do with them?   There are many options and these are a few. 

    Discard:  Any books that have mold or mildew should be discarded. Old textbooks, old dictionaries, encyclopedias and most magazines should be recycled if possible. It is o.k. to discard them if the recycler will not accept them. Any books with missing pages should also be discarded.

    Donate or Giveaway:  Many charities and thrift stores accept book donations. This includes Goodwill, Volunteers of America, The Salvation Army, Library Thrift Stores (also known as Friends of the Library), and churches. These organizations will sell the books, usually for 25-cents to $2 each to raise money for their organization. If you want to receive a tax deduction for your donation, be sure you comply with the IRS rules for documenting charitable contributions. You may not deduct more than the Fair Market Value (FMV) of the books. Determining this value can be confusing and it is difficult to provide rock-solid evidence of their value.

    To avoid falling afoul of IRS regulations, I suggest a more creative approach. Sell as many of your books as you can to a book dealer and give the money you receive to the charity of your choice. This will allow you to raise money for ANY qualified charity, not just those that resell books. Furthermore, by giving a cash donation, you have a non-disputable record of your donation and you can fill out your tax forms with peace of mind.

    Most brick-and-mortar bookstores will require you to bring your books to their store in order for them to evaluate and purchase your collection. Most online booksellers such as Crestview Books (www.CrestviewBooks.com) will come to your home so that you don't have to load and tote heavy boxes of books. The offer from a reputable online dealer should be at least as much as that offered by a brick-and-mortar store. If you do not know the dealer, or if they are not recommended by a trusted friend or professional organizer, do not let them into your home unless you have someone with you.

    Using this sell-and-donate strategy is a win-win-win! You win because you have evidence of your donation. Your charity wins because they get money they can use right away without having to use valuable time cleaning, storing and sorting them for sale. The small business book dealer wins by obtaining needed inventory to keep the business running.

    Sell: Sell them yourself at a garage sale or online at a website such as eBay. For your garage sale you should price your books at or below what they would bring at a thrift store. Selling your books online will probably give you the largest amount of money but it is not quick and easy.

    If you have a book that you believe may be of significant value, contact an established dealer or auction house for an opinion before you let go of a real treasure!

  • 03 May 2015 9:47 AM | Julie Riber, CPO®


    Spring is a long-awaited season for gardeners.  Watching life return after the long winter brings joy and lots of work!  There are certain fundamental spring tasks for both gardeners and organizers - here are a few worth mentioning:

    • 1.      Weeding – although weeding is often a season-long task for the gardener, an early assault on weeds right now as they are emerging can pay dividends later.  If your garden contains perennials, you are noticing that they are making their appearance after months of dormancy – now is the time to weed around them, to clear our these undesirable invaders while your perennials are still small and you can work in close quarters with them.  Later on, as they are larger and in various stages of bloom, the weeds are more well-established and more difficult to eradicate, and at the same time, it can be more difficult to see into all the places within your perennial plant.  In the organizing landscape, the same principle applies – it is never too early to weed your own collections; clearing away those items that are undesirable while a space is not overloaded can prevent bigger problems down the road. This is also a year- long task.
    • 2.      Pruning – Certain plants/shrubs and especially roses benefit from an annual pruning process.  This is more than just cutting away dead wood from the previous growing season; this is about shaping your plants now, at the beginning of the growing season, to promote the plant’s healthy development and to provide maximum flowers.  I’ll focus on roses for the moment – by this time in the year they will be starting to leaf out – always a welcome sign that fragrant blooms are only a month or so away. But new shoots will develop all around the rose canes, and if left untended will lead to the new canes growing in a haphazard fashion. Could this also happen in your closet? Multiple canes might look great now when you are happy for any signs of new life, but proper pruning of these canes to promote healthy growth to the outside, away from the center of the bush is the pathway to long-term plant health and great blooms.  In the same spirit, prune your possessions now to promote future growth – get rid of items that don’t function anymore, or are outdated and unlikely to be worn or used again.  Clothes may be in fine shape, but if you haven’t worn them in a year, move them on through donation or discard to make room for new growth.  Have you held on to old toys and hobbies?  Phases of interest that didn’t catch your attention for very long?  Prune them out of your life now and plan for new directions. Buy something new and then donate or toss something old. Prune your belongings for quality.
    • 3.      Improve your soil – Many gardeners pass the long winter months reviewing spring catalogs, filled with wonderful pictures of new plants as well as old trusted favorites, all bringing hopes of a successful coming growing season.  When planting those new plants, make sure to take a few minutes to improve your soil in the area where you are planting.  Just digging a hole and plopping a new plant in the ground may work in the short run, but improving the soil with peat moss and new topsoil will pay dividends for years to come.  In your own home, as you break out your spring and summer clothes, add a few new accessories to add life and longevity to your wardrobe.  Perhaps just a refresh is needed instead of a buying spree. You’ll find having a few quality pieces rather than overwhelming quantity can often bring crispness to your look – as well as providing flexibility for next year’s new catalog offerings.

    Happy Gardening! Happy Organizing

  • 07 Apr 2015 6:27 AM | Julie Riber, CPO®

    1.   Find ways to declutter "responsibly" -- Look for shred days and e-recycling events so the items you are getting rid of can be either recycled or disposed of properly.

    2.  Look for cleaning products and/or items that can multi-task -- Rather than a different cleaner for each different task, look for multi-tasking items.  Simplify the clutter under your sink.  Machines like this steamer (http://www.amazon.com/Shark-Deluxe-Portable-Pocket-SC650/dp/B00HZCY26O/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1426884091&sr=8-1&keywords=portable+shark+steam+cleaner) can do a variety of household cleaning and only use steam.  Or these Norwex cloths can (http://www.norwex.biz/pws/home2999999/tabs/shop-online---top-10-products.aspx#) can be used wet or dry for dusting, cleaning and array of cleaning only using water.

    3.  Save time by scheduling a donation pick up -- Don't tote your donations all over town, see if there is a Goodwill, VOA, Kidney Foundation that have regular pick ups in your neighborhood or that can schedule a pick up for your items.  This also gives you a deadline and will hopefully motivate you to get stuff together before they come.


    4.  Remember the less you have, the less you have to clean -- Rather than storing away a bunch of winter clothes you didn't wear, or cleaning off bookshelves full of books you'll never read again, why not donate them now so you don't have to clean them next year.


    5. Make lists to track your progress – spring-cleaning the entire house can be overwhelming, so use lists to manage things. Have a list of all the rooms you want to organize, and then specific lists of what you want to do in each room. Here is an example of a kitchen list: pare down the pantry, clean out fridge and freezer, sort and organize all cabinets and drawers, wipe appliances and surfaces.


    6. Set up a time line: Decide what order your going to clean in, and set up a calendar with goals. Setting a deadline for yourself of when you’ll have each task done with help you stay on track and keep momentum. For example, have a chart with your list of tasks and a column for “estimated time” and “date/week” to schedule when you’ll do it.


    7. Create a system to maintain – spring-cleaning is very satisfying, but only if the changes you make stay that way! Make sure your hard work doesn’t go to waste: establish a home for all things, use clear bins and labels, and commit to a daily clutter clean sweep. This way you won’t have to repeat spring-cleaning every season!


    8. Just get started! – This may be the best advice of all: just get going! Spring-cleaning may seem like a daunting, too-big-for-you task, but if you follow these steps and pace yourself it is absolutely doable. You can start small, just start somewhere and get organized.

  • 01 Mar 2015 6:02 PM | Julie Riber, CPO®

    The clutter in your home or office affects more than just your belongings.  It robs you of your time, your mental health and your money.  But never fear, there are bright, shiny rewards in store for all your organizing hard work.

    Less Time Spent Looking for Items

    Have you ever actually timed how long it takes you to find your keys or cell phone on your way out the door?  Or your remote when you want to relax and watch TV?  Getting organized is more than matching boxes with labels.  It starts by giving items a home and returning those items to their homes when you’re finished using them.  In his book, When the Game is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box, John Ortberg states that American’s spend 16 minutes a day looking for lost things.  That equals nearly one year of your life!  It’s time to dedicate those 16 minutes to something you want to do like a hobby or spending time with your loved ones.

    Less Stress

    Are the piles on your kitchen counter or dining room table impacting more than just the space they take up?  Experts agree that clutter has a significant impact on your mental health.   A 2012 article by psychologist Sherrie Bourg Carter in Psychology Todaydiscusses the mental cost of clutter.   Dr. Carter states stress occurs because the excess stimulus (clutter) causes your senses to work overtime.  Additionally, you may experience feelings of guilt or embarrassment when friends or family members are in your home, frustration finding items that you know you’ve purchased and general anxiety from piles or bins that indicate work to do or work that’s been avoided.  The good news is you can change this and you will feel a marked improvement in your mental health when you start the process of clearing the clutter and arranging your life.

    Less Money Spent on Replacements or Late Fees

    How much is your clutter costing you financially?  Whether it’s clutter on your schedule or physical items in your home, disorganization can take a toll on your bank account.  There’s the cost of late fees for missed payments, storage facilities to store things you don’t have room for or replacing items you know you own but cannot find.  Clutter can also cost you if you consistently run late for work or missing appointments because you cannot find things or need to work on managing your time.  Little by little, the more you can address your clutter and take back control of your house and finances, the less your disorganized lifestyle will cost you. 

    You may think you don’t have the time or money to get organized but do you really have the time or money not to?  Reward yourself today with less stress and more down time by sliding down your clutter rainbow into a pot of organizing gold.  If it’s too overwhelming to do yourself, check out the fantastic organizing leprechauns of NAPO Ohio who can help you on your way.

  • 01 Feb 2015 7:27 PM | Julie Riber, CPO®

    Everyone experiences and deals with stress in different ways.   If you are stressed all the time because you consistently feel like you are running and getting nowhere and you still have a hundred things to do at the end of the day, then you need some time management.  Stress may affect behaviors and factors that increase heart disease risk: high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, smoking, physical inactivity and overeating according to Ernesto L. Schiffrin, M.D., Ph.D., physician-in-chief at Sir Mortimer B. Davis-Jewish General Hospital, and professor and vice chair of research for the Department of Medicine at McGill University in Montreal.   Time management can reduce stress and in return your heart will thank you. 

    The definition of time management is the analysis of how working or daily hours are spent and the prioritization of tasks in order to maximize personal efficiency.   Take time each week to schedule your week and leave time each day for surprise changes because we know they happen frequently.  If your work week is Monday-Friday, take some time on Saturday or Sunday to plan the week.  Schedule the activities you complete daily such as wake time, bedtime, dinner, lunch, and work.  Once you have your consistent daily activities, schedule those activities that have already been scheduled for the week.  As you look at your week, note the days you have some time because those times might be what you will need for the emergencies that arise.  As far as your heart, schedule time for yourself and remember exercise as this will help reduce your stress.   

    For more information contact julie@transformareorganizing.com

  • 01 Jan 2015 10:22 AM | Julie Riber, CPO®

    January is Get Organized Month according to The National Association of Professional Organizers.  The first month of the year is a popular month for many to make it a priority to get organized.  Some make it their New Year’s Resolution while others just want to start their year with an organized space. 

    The Golden Circle of NAPO is comprised of those individuals who have been in the organizing business for over 5 years.  The Professional Organizers with the Golden Circle designation in the Ohio chapter of NAPO have put together a list of tips to start your journey to get and stay organized.          

    • ·       Start small when you have decided to tackle organizing such as a drawer and allow your- self enough time to get it done.
    • ·       Write down your goals for organizing a space. 

    • ·       Schedule time on your calendar to organize just as you would a doctor’s appointment.  You are more likely to accomplish the goal. 
    • ·       Store like items together in a bin close to where you use them.  Make it easy to put things away.  If it is hard, chances are you will not put them away
    • ·       Always give yourself plenty of room to grow in those bins. 
    • ·       Only keep what your love and use.  The rest is clutter.
    • ·       Use plastic bins that fit your cupboards to group medicines.  Some bins even have handles and the bins will help you keep them in one space and avoid knocking over all the other bottles over as you grab what you need. 
    • ·       Go through your medicine cabinet frequently to discard expired or no longer needed medications.  Many area hospitals will take them and dispose of them properly.  Do not flush them.
    • ·       As you are storing your holiday decorations, write an inventory on the inside lid of the box so items will fit easily and consistently year after year. 
    • ·       After each holiday you decorate, donate those items you are no longer using.  Give yourself permission to change and not put up as much or different decorations. 
    • ·       Label your bins on the outside so you always know what is inside. 
    • ·       Use an over the door clear shoe pockets for gloves and hats in the hall closet.  Guests will have a place to put theirs and little ones can use lower pockets for their gloves and hats.
    • ·       Do not feel guilty for not keeping every card you have ever received from family and friends.  Appreciate the sentiment and recycle the cards. 
    • ·       Keep only one calendar.  Paper or electronic.  Too many calendars will cause you to miss or be late for appointments. 
    • ·       My Medical App for Apple products and My Health Records-Health and Family app for Android products is a great place to record documents, photos, family history and doctor information.
    • ·       Pocket Pharmacist app for Apple products allows you to make sure the medications you or a loved one is taking will not adversely affect each other. 
    • ·       Know Your Stuff App for Apple products and III Insurance App for Android products is a great place to store pictures of important belongings in your home for insurance purposes.  You may also add costs and receipts. 
    • ·        January is tax preparation month and if you don’t have a filing system set up, simple white envelopes work great, categorizing by each tax deductible expense, such as business expenses, daycare expenses, mileage or car expenses, charitable donations, medical expenses, etc.
    • ·       Once everybody has left from the holidays and the decorations are down, take a walking tour of your home and write down areas needing attention or a project you'd like to see done.  Set them by priority and make appointments with yourself during the winter weekends to start tackling them one at a time.
    • ·       When sorting through things determine what you use, what can be donated, and what just needs thrown away. Establish handy places for the things you use the most!
    • ·       Hire a Professional Organizer as they are experts in completing projects, keeping you focused and selecting the right products.  They also have numerous resources for donating unwanted items. 

  • 01 Dec 2014 7:51 AM | Julie Riber, CPO®



    Tis the season you should donate,

    fa la la la la la la la la

    How much stuff did you accumulate?

    fa la la la la la la la la

    Mental clutter does not serve you,

     fa la la la la la la la la

    Clear your stuff and clear your brain too,

    fa la la la la la la la la

    When did you last wear that sweater?

    fa la la la la la la la la

    Do the shoes make you feel better?

    fa la la la la la la la la

    Socks that don’t match, slacks you don’t wear,

    fa la la la la la la la la

    Donate things of which you don’t care

    fa la la la la la la la la

    Do you read the books on your shelves?

    fa la la la la la la la la

    Figurines aren’t cleaned by themselves

    fa la la la la la la la la

    As we age, we find we need less

    fa la la la la la la la la

    Clear your shelves to relieve your stress

    fa la la la la la la la la

    Basements filled with stuff you don’t use

    fa la la la la la la la la

    Can repair men move where they choose?

    fa la la la la la la la la

    What’s the meaning of the stuff there?

    fa la la la la la la la la

    Give to others to show that you care

    fa la la la la la la la la!

  • 28 Oct 2014 6:58 AM | Julie Riber, CPO®

    Is your house getting fat?  It happens far too easily and in the simplest of ways such as stopping by the store to pick up one thing and leaving with a cart full.   Maybe your parents or a close relative are downsizing and you go to help and leave with a car full of stuff including furniture in a rented truck.  Then there is the community or church garage sale where you buy more than you sell.  Now you have too much stuff.  When you do decide that you have too much, how do you decide what goes and where does it go?  

    First, congratulations on making the decision because "nothing happens without a decision" and next, you need a plan for moving those items onto their next life. How much time are you willing to spend on this project and where will you start? What resources are available for donations, will you need a dumpster; can you get your family to help? What will the end result look like?  

    Make the decision process easier by creating some rules to guide you.

    ·         RULE: I will keep no newspapers older than one week and magazines no older than 2 months.

    ·         RULE: Anything in my food closet older than a year will be donated to a food pantry or shelter.

    ·         RULE: When I clean out my linen closet, I will keep two sheet sets for each bed & 3 towel sets for each person.

    ·         RULE: I will clean out my clothes closet and keep only items I love and can wear.  

    Some general rules will also come in handy.

    ·         RULE:  If it's worn, torn, stained or broken, out it goes.

    ·         RULE:  If it smells, bulges, or oozes it goes bye-bye.

    The key here is to decide before you start so that you will be less likely to get hung up on "they’re pretty, I like it, it was a present, they were moms, or I paid good money for that". Each decision moves you closer to your goal or farther away. Which way are you going?

  • 01 Sep 2014 11:19 AM | Julie Riber, CPO®

    The new school year is a wide open canvas-take advantage of this opportunity to put new systems in place for the school year as well as revisit  the tried and true ones that worked last year.  All you need is a plan and the commitment to follow through on the new ideas.

    Establish new routines

    Reduce morning chaos by taking care of some key tasks the night before.  Just a few minutes spent before heading off to bed can save everyone in your household time and frustration in the morning:

    • ·       Lay out clothes for the next day
    • ·       Pack lunches/lunch money
    • ·       Put backpacks with all homework and signed papers by the front door along with keys, shoes, and coats

    A helpful after school routine can provide the same stress-free results

    • ·       Use hooks for hanging up back packs and coats-make sure they are at kids' eye level
    • ·       Assign a place to put all papers that need a signature or require effort by the parent
    • ·       Teach the kids to unload their backpacks every day-throw away trash, recycle paper, replenish supplies  and remove all important papers
    • Create a homework caddy 

    A homework caddy is a container that holds all the supplies your child needs to complete homework assignments.  Items such as pencils, erasers, rulers, and scissors could be included in the caddy.  By having these supplies readily available, your child will be more independent, have better focus, and you will also save money.   Children will experience independence by completing homework assignments without having to ask you for supplies.  Having supplies handy will allow for greater concentration and more time on task.  Lastly, you will save money by knowing what supplies are on hand which prevents the purchase of duplicate items.

    • Develop a system to handle school papers
    •  You will need to decide what to do with every paper that comes home from school.  Other than trash or shredding, here are three options to keep papers organized-take action, reference or  memorabilia. 
    • ·       Action items should be handled right away.  These consist of field trip forms, teacher letters, invitations, and anything that requires your signature.  Put them in a colored folder or on a special spot on your desk to remind you to do them.
    • ·       Reference items can be filed in a family binder that holds all your important school information such as teacher contact information, class lists, and schedules. 
    • ·       Memorabilia  can be tossed into a special box or bin and then sorted through periodically.  If your child makes a large item that will not fit into a box,  take a picture of your child with the item and then pick a time limit to keep the item on display.

    Back to school routines and habits are essential to organizational success for you and your children.  The habits that you develop at home will carry over to your children's lives now and in the future.  Good luck with the new school year!


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