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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.

  • 10 Jun 2014 12:08 PM | Julie Riber, CPO®

    Making a Move Less Stressful

    Many families move during the summer months and with moving comes stress. Having an organized move will make the experience a much less stressful event.

    First, whether you are moving around the corner or across the country, moving costs money. You either pay for the hours and number of movers needed or for the amount on the truck and miles. You can reduce this cost by eliminating some of the items you are moving. Some families have months to plan their move, while others have only weeks. You can have an organized move in both instances. One will just require a little more work in a short period of time.

    If you are in charge of arranging the movers, make sure you ask some neighbors, friends, or relatives for their recommendations. It can make a big difference going with a mover others have used versus going with the mover with the cheapest price.

    If you are lucky enough to have time before your move, go through closets and boxes to make sure you want to pay to have those items moved. Are you willing to pay to have boxes of magazines, or stuffed animals moved? Make decisions on decorations around the house too. Maybe the style and colors of your new home will be different. If the items are small or replaceable, maybe you are better off leaving them behind.

    If you have not opened a box or needed any items in that box for over a year, do not pay to move it. That box will just sit in the same spot in your new residence. Take into consideration the amount of space you will have for storage especially if you are moving into a smaller residence.

    To make your move less stressful, make sure you have a checklist of events that must occur before your move. Once you have set up the movers, began the sorting in your home, start calling about stopping and starting utilities, change of address, and cleaning of the residence you are leaving.

    The day before the move, call to check on the mover and the time of arrival. Pack clothes for the evening and the next day or two. If you are moving across the country, make sure you pack for the number of days needed.

    The day of the move, make sure you have food available for your family and drinks for the movers. They appreciate if you think of them and they will handle your furniture and boxes more carefully. If you are not paying someone to unpack, start the unpacking as soon as they deliver them in the new residence. Try to get the kitchen and bathrooms done first so you can make small meals and get a shower and dress as soon as possible. Those 2 rooms in order immediately will make your move much less stressful.

    If you have small children, have small projects for them to do out of the way or have a family member entertain them for the day. Moves can be hard on children so keeping them entertained will keep stress level down for everyone involved.

    When the furniture is all in and the movers are gone, let them help in the arrangement of their room. Being a part of the move and their room will help them in the transition.

  • 02 May 2014 2:46 PM | Julie Riber, CPO®

    Household Landing Zone

    Has your dining room table or kitchen counter become the dumping ground for keys, purse, mail, chargers, backpacks, school work that needs a signature and the food section from last weekends Sunday paper? Ask yourself why is this stuff here and why does this always happen.? It’s there because you do not have a landing zone and people coming in and out of the house are going to drop whatever on the nearest flat surface. This is an easy fix but will take a bit of effort re-training your family. Look at the door you use most often, does it have wall space to work with? Think hooks for backpacks and purses and a small shelf with a bowl for keys. Is there an electrical outlet? Ikea has a great little shelf with 2 drawers that could hold chargers for your cell phones and maybe a flashlight. Add a couple of decorative wall file holders to corral school papers and the recipes you want to take with you shopping. Now add a mirror for that last personal check before you go out to meet the world. Is the hallway wide enough for a bench? An open bench creates a natural place to stop and unload whatever you are carrying and take your shoes off. Add a large open basket that house-shoes are kept in and your home will be cleaner. Stuff comes in stuff goes out, and everyone needs to be taught this is a landing zone and that nothing lives here permanently.

  • 02 Apr 2014 11:11 AM | Julie Riber, CPO®

    Organizing a Playroom

     It’s a well-known fact that toys like to multiply in homes.   Take a birthday party and add in a dash of holiday gifts and a few visits from grandparents and BAM! there are a lot more toys than space to store them.  Below are a couple of tips for keeping toy clutter organized and under control:

    1.      DECIDE: Look around the room and decide how much space to devote to storing toys.  Pick an appropriately sized storage unit to hold the bins, baskets or containers in the chosen area.  If possible it is best to choose a storage unit or furniture after evaluating what and how much you will store on it.  That way you can make sure there is enough space for everything.  Work to limit the amount of toys in the space to the chosen shelving unit or cabinet. 
    2.      EDIT: Choose regular interval to go through toys and purge based on age appropriateness, use and/or damage.  The change of seasons always is a great reminder to check and pare down toys.  Get in the habit of practicing the 1-in, 1-out rule when a birthday party or the holidays are right around the corner.
    3.      LABEL: Picture labels are a great way to teach younger kids where to put toys away.  If you have a reader in the house, consider putting both a picture and word on the label.  Self-adhesive pockets like these are perfect because they hold 4 x 6 photos or index cards and can change as the contents inside the bin or container change.
    4.      EXPERIENCE: OK, this doesn’t really apply directly to organizing toys, but it can help keep the influx of toys under control.  Rather than gifts constantly adding to the toy stash, consider asking relatives and friends to contribute to experience gifts.  Ballet classes, music lessons, zoo memberships and trips to the amusement park can get expensive but will contribute richly to a child’s development.   Family members get the added bonus of watching how their gift is used at games, recitals or a family day out.

    Keeping a playroom in order requires daily maintenance.  By devoting appropriate sized storage, storing only toys that are used, labeling what is stored for easier clean up and slowing the flow of what comes in it becomes easier to maintain the order without needing to threaten to take all the toys away.

    Christy Lingo is a professional organizer and owner of Simple Solutions Design in Columbus.  She is also the mother of two young boys and works daily (some days better than others) to practice what she preaches about organization with them.


  • 07 Mar 2014 10:02 AM | Julie Riber, CPO®



    Organize for an Outstanding Spring Break

    It doesn’t matter if you are going to Orlando, Ontario or your local amusement park for the day – the preparation is what will set you up for a fun filled event! These tips will set you up for success every time you travel!

    • Start one week ahead of your departure and confirm all pertinent information such as reservations, required documentation and hours of operation.

    • Create a place in your home that will be the gathering location for EVERYTHING you will need for the trip.  Having these items together in one place will help insure that nothing is forgotten at the last minute.

    • Call your bank to tell them you will be out of the area using your credit or debit card.  This will alert the bank and you will not be denied any purchases.

    • Let family or friends know of your plans along with departure and arrival dates.

    • Make a copy of any credit cards and documentation you will be traveling with.  Keep this information with you at all times in case of lost or stolen purses/wallets.  You will be able to act quickly and follow up with banks and lenders quickly!
    • If you will travel by car, why not start by cleaning your car and making sure everything is in good working order.  Pack some healthy snacks and bottled water.  Traveling by plane?  Pack any daily medicines and a good book with your carry on luggage in case of delays.

    • As you begin to pack, know the weather in your destination city.  Only pack for the activities you will be participating in.  Avoid over packing!  All hotels offer laundry services so why drag around a heavy bag?


    As you depart on your journey don’t worry about all the “what if ”scenarios.   You are organized and prepared. Now it is time to RELAX, REFUVENATE and RESTORE!

    Bon voyage!

    If you want ideas for specific packing lists try visiting www.realsimple.com

  • 05 Feb 2014 7:19 AM | Julie Riber, CPO®

    How many times have you said, “Just put it down in the basement?” It’s so easy to put things into the basement and forget about them. But sooner or later even the basement gets filled up and must be dealt with.

    So what are you storing down there? In my work as a professional organizer some of the most common things I find are:

    • Home décor from previous homes. Often times you are holding on to these items because they were expensive. Except that your tastes has changed and donate or sell these items.

    • Items from your children who have their own homes now. It’s time you get to enjoy your home the way you want it. Give these children a deadline to pick up their items. Many times when you make these belongings their responsibility they no longer want them.

    • Out-dated electronics. The likelihood of you ever going back and using these is very slim. Start donating electronics the minute you upgrade to the latest technology.

    • Exercise equipment. If it’s collecting dust in the basement chances are you’re choosing other ways to stay fit that doesn’t require this type of equipment.

    • Holidaydecorations no longer used. The next time you decorate for a holiday, take a look at the items you did not use this time around. You probably no longer like them or have the time for them so donate them.

    • Toys your kids have outgrown. If you must keep some, narrow them down to the few that have the most sentimental value and donate the others to a child who will enjoy them.

    • Equipment from past hobbies and sports. Your life changes and so does your interests. If you no longer use this equipment part with these items while they can still be used by others. I know it can be hard to let go of the past. To help you part with them, ask yourself, “Did this item serve its purpose?”

    • School papers and textbooks. How many times have you revisited these boxes?

    • Past greeting cards. I have organized many homes and with very few exceptions does anyone ever go back and reread these cards. Enjoy them for awhile after you receive them and then part with them before you’re tempted to box them up.

    • Books. Books take up a lot of space and are heavy to move. Boxed up books rarely get looked at again. Books that are important to you are displayed on a bookcase and taken care of. If they are boxed and thrown in the basement they probably were important, but no longer are.

    The list goes on; clothes that no longer fit, instruments long forgotten, flower vases overflowing shelves, past collections, VHS tapes, outdated luggage collecting dust, trophies piled up in boxes.

    If you’re tired of spending time organizing the basement, figure out whom you are today and then take a look at what you are storing. Unused items cost you space, time, money, and keep you from using the space more efficiently. Let them go. You will help yourself and someone else who may need these items.

  • 04 Jan 2014 8:32 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. 

  • 05 Dec 2013 2:25 PM | Julie Riber, CPO®
    Body *

    Twenty-some days left to shop for Christmas. That sounds pretty stressful for many. On top of that, because Thanksgiving fell later this year, we lost a week of preparing for the Christmas season.

    Start your Christmas cards as soon as possible and have the older kids help with the stamps and return labels

    Now is the best time to have your children go through all their toys and get rid of broken toys, donate or sell those toys they feel they are too old for. Encourage them to really think about donating at this time of the year. Teaching them early to go through their toys once or twice a year keeps them organized and eliminates the clutter from your home.

    You can still make shopping fun with friends and family. Plan a day out and take your list with you. If you do have to mail any gifts, get those done first. Arrange your list by importance and work down.

    If you decorate, bake, shop and entertain all in the month of December, you will need a plan. Making a day to day plan is the best way to relieve some stress. Plan your days of shopping first. Even those that work outside the home should plan their shopping and baking days. If you bake cookies, bake those you can freeze first. This allows you to keep them fresh, but do many in advance. Wrap presents as you purchase them rather than waiting until the day before Christmas to do all the wrapping.

    Decorating can also be broken down into steps. Try decorating outside first, and the inside your home. For outside, put the lights up first, then add the wreaths, bows, and other accessories. Make sure you test all lights prior to putting them up outside and inside.

    Break the inside down into floors, decorations and fresh greenery. Even the tree can be done in steps such as lights and ornaments. Start now to make those plans and have a stress free holiday season.

  • 03 Nov 2013 3:06 PM | Julie Riber, CPO®


    This is the time of year when baking, holiday meals and party preparations increase our time in the kitchen.  We typically have more ingredients in our pantry and larger quantities of ingredients that we normally stock. Holiday dishes join our regular dishes and suddenly we are out of space! With just a few quick steps, you can streamline your cabinets and pantry to get ready for the holiday rush.

    Step 1: Quick Analysis - Do I use it? Do I love it?

    If your cabinets are already packed full of dishes, take a few minutes to quickly weed out items you rarely use.  This is a good time to consider donating miscellaneous plates or glasses that don't match.  Ask yourself if you really love and use a particular item.  Now is the time to make space for extra holiday dishes and mugs.

    Next, take a quick overview of your pantry.  If you have multiple containers of the same item, can you consolidate? Quickly toss expired food.  Remove items that do not belong in the pantry.

    Step 2: Subdivide for Double the Storage

    Many stores carry wire shelves that sit inside your cabinets and create another level of storage for each shelf.  These shelves make it so much easier to access dishes.  These shelves come in corner units, cup holders, and different heights to fit your particular space.  Measure your shelf depth and height before heading out to the store.

    Step 3:  Make it Visible

    If you can't see an item, you won't use it.  This applies to both dishes and food.  After you subdivide for more storage, be sure everything is visible.  Three tiered cabinet  shelves will elevate canned goods so nothing is lost at the back of the shelf.  Turntables will also make items visible.  Stacking bins and under shelf baskets also make items visible.

    Does your pantry have a door? Consider using a wall and door rack on the door to add enormous amounts of storage to your pantry.  The backs of doors are often overlooked as great storage places.  The average interior door can hold almost 150 lbs!

    My favorite tip for the pantry is to put food in clear containers.  When you can see the food, making your grocery list is a snap because you know when you are running low on an item! Set yourself up for success with just these few steps.

    Happy organized holiday baking!

    For all of the products mentioned above visit Target or The Container Store websites.

  • 02 Oct 2013 3:52 PM | Julie Riber, CPO®

    So much to do, but how do you keep track of it all? Lists! Here are some great ways to make lists work for you. I suggest having two lists; one for all of your current tasks and one for those items you would love to get around to someday.  It is too hard to remember everything and the older I get the less I want to keep in my head.  I use technology for my two lists but good old paper works just fine.  Pick the one that feels right to you.  The good thing about using technology is that most of us carry it with us.  So, when you get a great idea you can immediately capture it.  With paper, on the other hand, you can easily write down your idea, just make sure to get it to the proper list so that it is not lost.  You need to create a home for that “if I ever get free time” list but you don’t have to carry it with you and it doesn’t have to be pretty; just a list or a file that can hold those “sometime tasks”. Now, the current tasks need to be with you.  Keep that list realistic and when you are planning your week take some of those items off your “to do” list and put them on your calendar.  Remember, if you don’t schedule them they won’t get done.

  • 05 Sep 2013 7:59 AM | Julie Riber, CPO®

    It is time to clean off your desk because you can no longer find what you need.  Remove all items except computer and printer if you have a large enough desk to accommodate it.  If your computer is a laptop, put it in position so you can easily use it.  If it is the keyboard and monitor, place the keyboard on the keyboard drawer (if one exists) and the monitor in a location you can easily see and you are not straining your eyes or neck.

    Next, put back the items you use frequently such as your stapler, tape, writing utensil holder, in/out basket, or any item used to hold folders.  Once those items are on your desk it is time to start with the paper, which can be overwhelming.  Toss all the papers that have been dealt with and you no longer need.  Also toss old ads, coupons you forgot to use, invitations and thank you notes no longer relevant and scraps with old numbers and notes.   If the paper has been on your desk for weeks or months and you still have not done anything with it, maybe tossing the paper is your best option.  Many times clutter is just delayed decision making.  File those papers you really need to keep.  Or if you are reducing your paper, considering scanning them but remember to back up those files.  

    Once you have dealt with the paper, look at what is left and make the decision whether they are really needed on your desk or needed at all.  Remember schedule filing and cleaning your desk on a regular basis so your desk stays clear. 

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