NAPO-Ohio Blog

Tips & Tricks from the Experts in the Industry

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

  • 03 May 2013 3:30 PM | Julie Riber, CPO®

    Last week many of our NAPO Ohio organizers attended the NAPO National Conference in New Orleans.  Not only did we learn how to better serve our clients but we got a peak at all the great new products on the market.   Digital apps are everywhere offering to help us stay on top of our many lists, projects and paper work.  The EXPO hall had lots of resources and here are just a few ideas to help make your days less stressful…

    • •·         Staples BETTER binders   These binders with removable file rings let you easily move documents from your desk to your file cabinet and then into a binder.  The rings detach allowing you to hang them in any standard size file system.
    • •·         Rubbermaid now offers a track system that allows you to add components on to existing sections of shelving or rods.  Adjust the heights with ease.
    • •·         AboutOne is a free digital app that is basically a file drawer for your mobile phone.  Store information such as health histories, babysitter information, receipts and to-do lists
    • •·          HomeZada  is another digital online and mobile home organization app.  This app features home improvement checklists, maintenance checklists, track your spending and other fun and helpful lists for DIY home improvement projects.
    • •·         Organizables is a great solution for busy parents trying to get out the door on time in the morning.  These blue and pink garment bags help organize the children’s clothes for each day of the week.  Start your day off on time!
    • •·         What’s That Paint?,LLC has taken the guess work out of searching your basement for the correct touc up paint for the upstairs hallway.  These ingenious labels are easy to use and make touch up a breeze! Buy labels at
    • •·         Purse Perfector is an award-winning American-made purse organizer to fit all size bags. This multi-pocket bag has 13 tailored pockets connected by a zipper.  Find what you need quickly!
    • •·         ShelfGenie will design, build and install custom glide-out shelving solutions.  Get better access and organization for your cabinets.

    Still feeling stuck?  Call the professionals at NAPO Ohio for help with any project big or small!

  • 01 Apr 2013 10:47 AM | Julie Riber, CPO®

    Linen Closet Makeover

    With spring in the air, why not tackle that messy linen closet and get it looking lovely in no time at all.  This task is not an impossible dream…let’s get started! Why not snap a photo or two of your space BEFORE you start….Be sure to have some plastic garbage bags on hand.

    • ·         Take everything out of the closet and place like items together.  Towels in one pile, sheets in another etc.  If you come across items that belong in another part of the house simply put them in a separate pile and keep working on the closet!
    • ·         When everything is out of the closet, sort the items into one of three categories

                         KEEP                                          TOSS                                 DONATE

    Carefully examine each item and decide which pile to place it in.  Remember the old adage…”One person’s trash is another person’s treasure.” If you no longer need something and it is in good condition, place it in the DONATE pile.  If you have been saving the purple sheets from when your children were young and they have left home, consider putting them in the DONATE pile.  If your stripped quilt has been washed one too many times and is being held together by safety pins, it is time to TOSS it! Now everything should be in one of the three categories.

    • ·         Now it is time to clean the closet thoroughly.  Depending on your time and energy you may want to paint the walls, line the shelves with scented shelf paper or even reconfigure the shelving completely! If your shelves are pulling out from the wall or not able to be adjusted, you can look at Lowes, The Container Store or California Closets for ideas on what can be done to maximize your space.
    • ·         Now that your space is clean and fresh, it is time to tackle the KEEP pile.  Start putting like items together.  Put matching sheets together in a set.  Towels can be grouped by color. Put twin sheet sets together etc.  You can organize the sheets by size and by room.  Take a look at what items you have left and now decide where to put these items in the closet.  It is best to put the most frequently used items at chest – eye height.  Least often used items can be place on the upper shelves.  If you have lots of toiletries you can put them in clear plastic bins with labels. 
    • ·         Place the items on the shelves in your categories and label that shelf.  This way when you are putting clean laundry away, you can keep your system in great order while you learn this new routine.
    • ·         Take the DONATE and TOSS pile immediately out to your car!  Many, many organizations are eager to take your treasures – Goodwill, Volunteers of America or the Faith Mission are only a few of the options.

    Take a step back….WOW!  Take a look at your BEFORE photo….nice job!  Maybe now you are inspired to tackle another small project in your home following the same sequence of steps. 

    Tips & Resources:

    -For a great wall and door rack check out The Container Store

    -For a great selection of scented shelf liners visit Bed, Bath & Beyond or Crabtree and Evelyn

    -Many office supply stores carry labels but why not purchase a small label maker and have it on hand for many other uses.


  • 01 Feb 2013 2:15 PM | Julie Riber, CPO®

    If you call it a junk drawer that's exactly what you will put in it. We’ve looked into plenty of junk drawers. Much of the contents will be junk like expired coupons, unidentifiable keys and assorted key chains, dried up pens, twisty ties, Taco Bell sauces, Chinese takeout chopsticks, paper clips, and bread crumbs in the corners.

    If you want to be more organized, toss most of that stuff and change the name. The name I favor is "Utility drawer" so you will put USEFUL items in it. The trick is not toss things into this drawer that you don’t want to decide about now.  We call those “delayed decisions”.  Decide now and set limits to the quantities of the items you choose to keep.

    -Grab the trashcan and begin sorting. Empty the drawer purging as you go.


    -Be ruthless with those chopsticks, and fast food condiments.


    -Vacuum out those crumbs and dust bunnies.  

    -Add a few drawer dividers or reuse old check boxes and this becomes the place for screwdrivers, glue, tape, paper clips, rubber bands, and scissors.

    -Quantity control- A handful of working pens and pencils is enough for quick usage. Bag the rest and store with household office supplies.

    -Use a two pocket folder for the take out coupons and menus and store this near the phone books (if you still have them). 

    -Use snack size Ziploc bags to corral small hardware and take it to your toolbox.

    Utility drawers are a nice small area to dust off your organizing skills, and it’s a great area to teach organizing to children.  Kids are great at grouping by category, matching, counting and pen testing. 

    Begin making changes by changing the name.  If you have a junk food cupboard...

  • 25 Jan 2013 11:34 AM | Deleted user

    As one of the Baby Boomer generation, I am aware of the fact that in the next twenty years it may be necessary for me to downsize my living style.  The four bedroom/ three bath home we live in on our half acre lot may be more than we need or want to care for.  My husband and I may not continue to enjoy our excellent health and physical lives.  But we know that eventually the saying will be proved true- "You can't take it with you"!

    So, I have a choice.  I can live each day continuing to be a consumer and pack rat or I can choose to be proactive. Spending less money and taking as little as three hours a week to evaluate our home. Just looking at an area while following the simple organizing steps: sort, purge, establish a zone and containerize will result in cleaning up the clutter, organizing and reducing the unnecessary bulk.

    As I put away our Christmas decorations I followed these steps.  Some decorations definitely needed to advance on to a landfill.  But, I confess that I did take pictures of a few of the items my children had made that had become too bulky to save!  Another set of items I gave to our daughter.  A small 6 x 6 x 6” boxful was saved for the grandchildren we look forward to having someday.  The rest of the items were placed in clearly marked containers.  The beautiful, rarely used, Christmas glassware was marked for holiday giving next Christmas.  A plate of cookies or Polish pastries given on these plates will be an elegant present! I will have made good use of these former gifts.

    God forbid that I am hit by a Mac truck this year…but if I am, I am confident that my children can easily navigate through our Christmas items.  While I was at it I looked at the other seasonal decorations we have accumulated over the years.  Yes, our Easter, Thanksgiving, Saint Patrick’s Day and summer decorations were looked at and similarly encased in clearly marked plastic totes, too!


    The next areas my husband and I both attacked were our closets.  As we ruthlessly went through shoes, belts, clothing (and for me other accessories) we found we didn’t need any more space in our closets. We just needed less.  A suit and two suit coats, a size too small, no longer needed saved.  Shoes that I was convinced would be comfortable, and proved not to be, were passed on.  Out of date clothing saved in case the style returned were parted with.  In the end, we agreed that a “clothing fast” was in order.  No more buying clothing unless both of us agreed it was needed…..not merely wanted.  To celebrate we quickly drove our castoffs to the Goodwill drop off and didn’t look back.  The next day while dressing for church I confess that I did lament not having a specific white undergarment.  Then I realized the reason it was donated was because it was the wrong size and type.  So, later that week an appropriate replacement was found and all is well.

    Our bathroom seems next on the list.  I think I’ll attack it this next week.  I know I’ve been saving some cosmetics that will never be used! I believe I will find many other items that could easily be trashed. Think of the space I will save!  Yes, a few more containers will be needed to establish order.

    By moving from one area of the house to another, spending only three hours a week, I will continually address the accumulation of our possessions and get rid of the items just taking up space.  My home is not cluttered but the excess is there!  Also, by addressing the issue of our many possessions I find that my recent purchases are more thoughtfully made.  This is especially helpful as we approach these years of retirement.

    We may remain in our large home throughout our lives. However, if  we need to downsize or our children need to clean out our house, I will know that I have left things in a manageable state.  By being proactive I am in charge of the decisions and not just waiting for the day that family members will take charge.

  • 04 Jan 2013 10:51 PM | 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. 
    •         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. 
  • 02 Dec 2012 6:15 PM | Julie Riber, CPO®

    We all could use simple solutions to keep the spirit of the season alive that doesn’t deplete our time banks. I
    don’t know about you, but I’m at the point in my life, where “quality of time” with loved ones mean more than
    Martha Stewart’s “fluff” on seasonal decorating. Sometimes reflecting on what we actually want “out” of our
    holiday celebrations, and enlist a fewr snappy simple solutions can help bring about a more memorable
    celebration. Here’s my top 5 sensational, snappy, solutions to the holiday’s most stressful activities.


    Simply Decorate. Less is more in some cases. A simple table arrangement of antique ornament balls in a dish
    is perfect. Use natural materials, such as branches, fruits, peppermints, and pinecones to accent.


    Simplify Traditions-If holiday baking, newsletters, and dinner parties are iron-clad traditions, then, change
    things up and keep it simple. Partner with friends for a cookie exchange; shop online card sites for multiple
    photo card options telling this year’s story, OR create a themed dinner party event where everyone brings their
    favorite appetizer, baked potato topping, pizza, or dessert. By simplify traditions you can still enjoy holiday
    traditions of the past, with less effort and stress.


    Sophisticated yet Savvy Attire: Select a few clothing items that can be worn for a multitude of occasions.
    Accessories can add glitz and glamour when needed. Keep clothing dry cleaned and hung separately in the
    closet ready to go. Pack a small bag for your trunk that includes heels, makeup, and holiday top just in case you
    need to change. One of my favorite items I’ve discovered are “Fits in Clouds”, portable ballet flats that fold and
    fit in your purse! How cool is that for dressed up tired feet at your fingertips!


    Snappy Shopping Strategies: Create lots of lists! Keep food lists handy on the refrigerator. Keep gift ideas for
    loved ones in your purse or on your personal electronic devise. Create guest lists for dinner parties, food
    creations, and last minute details. ListPlanIt, helps keep me organized for the holidays, and below are a few of
    my favorite. If you like these, visit their website, for further information.

    Holiday Party Planner

    Holiday Meal Planner

    Day of the Event Timeline

    Stunning Home Storage Solutions: We never know when people pop over. Take a few minutes each evening
    to pick up and rid up. It’s essential to have the right solutions to help keep this process manageable. Decorative
    baskets throughout the home are perfect for scarves/gloves/ hats by the door, toys and trinkets from the kids,
    extra blankets and reading material. A simple flat tray filled with decorative pebbles or rock is perfect for
    winter boots in the entryway. Create a family communication center to house party invites, calendar, coupons,
    and holiday cards. Natural cleaning supplies like white vinegar, cinnamon, and citrus peels are perfect for
    multi-purpose cleaning and aroma fresheners into the air. Lastly, create a guest room complete with reading
    materials, bottled waters, toiletries, and towels ahead of time, just in case you have that last minute guest.


    Effort ahead of time, allow us to enjoy and create perfect experiences. We wish you and your family a joyous
    holiday season.

  • 01 Nov 2012 11:26 AM | Julie Riber, CPO®

                As the holidays approach, it is time to evaluate the current inventory of your children’s toys and “stuff”.  Children grow up fast and outgrow toys quickly. If there is a younger sibling to consider, that is another issue.  Try to find a small pocket of time that you can sit with them and sort the toys into, 1-toys to donate, 2 – toys to keep, 3 – toys/things they don’t really play with, but want to keep as memorabilia.

                Another option is for you to do the sorting. Then have them look at the piles you have created using the same guidelines as above. Be sure to emphasize that “we can’t keep everything Honey.” OR “Can we put that in a special box that you can still keep, but it isn’t with the everyday toys”?

                Once the inventory is sorted, sort them using tried and true organizing principles. Put like things together. Stack the board games separate from puzzles.  But don’t stack them too high. If they want the bottom game, they aren’t going to have success pulling it out from a 20” stack. Your stack should be 12-15” at the most.  It is difficult to shelve odd shaped toys or possibly their K’nex or Lego creations, but find a special place for those to prevent crushing them.

                The cube storage system, found at many stores, helps to store and sort toys more easily.  They allow for a small collection of items. Children tend to have a lot of small things so this keeps them together.  Labeling is important for clean-up time. Label with words and pictures. These cubes can also be used without bins. You can put books in the cube as well. A small collection of books in several cubes may be easier to maintain than a long collection on a couple of shelves. The cubes can also be used to house one toy that is a little bulky.

                Toy boxes are nice to corral toys, but they tend to overflow quickly and small things tend to get lost in the bottom.  You can restrict the toy box to bigger toys, but it’s difficult for children to determine what goes where, unless it is labeled.

                Many adults claim they were not brought up in an organized environment so they never learned the skills involved.  Not everyone is wired that way so it may take a little more work for some.  But teaching your children some of these skills will help them through life when they are dealing with everyday life and not just their toys.  They need to have a certain amount of responsibility for putting things away.  But they will not succeed if the “homes” for things are not outlined for them.  They also need to clean up their messes. Yes, it is easier to do it yourself sometimes, but they at least need to make the effort and you can tweak when they aren’t around.  Set a timer when it is clean up time. That way the timer is the “meanie” not the parent. Some timers show a visual reduction in time which is good for children and people with ADD.

                Children’s toys and things need to be constantly reevaluated. They tend to have more things come in than go out. You have to make a task of sorting more than you would like so your house doesn’t begin to look like a daycare center.

  • 02 Oct 2012 5:01 PM | Julie Riber, CPO®

    Statistics show over the next 20 years 76 million Americans will retire. Many will downsize.Downsizing can be a very difficult event for many seniors. If they have lived in their current home for a long period of time there are probably many possessions stored. Whether a move is already planned or a senor is just planning ahead, simple steps can be taken to make it less stressful. Many of the seniors today lived through the depression so they have kept everything. Many think they might need those items in the future, but rarely do. It is not uncommon to find bills, magazines and papers from 50 or more years ago. By dividing the downsizing project into small parts, the feeling of being overwhelmed, should be lessened. Start with the furniture. Removal of furniture that is not used or is crowding the room should be dealt with first. If there are some pieces that some relatives are fond of and are no longer being used to their fullest, giving them away will be the best solution. Look to see if any pieces of furniture are in the way of getting around. Moving some furniture out or just in a new location might allow the senior to move about more freely. Rugs are dangerous, so remove these next. If they are valuable, consider selling them or giving them to relatives who have expressed interest. Divide each bedroom into closets and stored items. As the stored items are gone through, ask how long it has been in storage unused and if a move occurred today, would the the item be needed? Antiques and valuable items can be auctioned or if enough exist, an estate sale might be a good idea.

    Discuss pictures with the family to decide what pictures everyone wants or if there is one particular family member involved in the history of the pictures or genealogy. Eliminating some of the pictures in boxes will free up some needed storage space or make the area more accessible and safe.
    Arrange for shredding of old papers. Eliminate the fears of identity theft and have any papers with personal information shredded. Many communities have shredding days that are free or charge a nominal fee for a charity donation. Take advantage of these. Some companies will come to your home to shred and remember to ask your tax preparer how long to keep your taxes. Most will say 7 years, but ask yours to be sure.
    The kitchen should also be tackled. How many dishes are used daily and are they in a good location? Eliminate pots and pans never used and place those used in a space that is easy to reach. If getting on the hands and knees is no longer an option, move the items used to a better location and use the lower cupboard to store items used only when guests are present. Someone will be happy to get the items for you at that time. If getting on a chair or step stool is unsafe, follow the same rules as above. Make those items used daily to a place that is within easy reach.
    Make life simple, downsize today while time is on your side. It only takes an hour a day or so and in no time, you are living a clutter free lifestyle.

  • 01 Aug 2012 9:39 AM | Julie Riber, CPO®

    There are many people who are leaving their second biggest investment, their car, in the driveway while their garage holds items they no longer use. Organizing your garage will not only allow room to protect your car from the elements, but outdoor projects become easier when you can find things faster.

    A great time to organize your garage is the day before trash pick-up. Trash items can be taken right to the curb as you find them. Start organizing your garage by getting out as much trash as you can so it’s not in your way as you organize. Also, sort out any paint and hazardous chemicals you will not be using to take to your city’s solid waste department for proper disposal.

    Next, look for items that could be stored in your home and take those inside. Most people are in and out of their garage everyday and their unfinished basement once in a while. Stop tripping daily over items that are used infrequently in the garage and store them in your indoor storage area and out of your way.

    Another category that will immediately free up space as you organize are those items you want to donate. Put the donate items right in the trunk of your car so they make it to the donation center and not back into your garage.

    Once the trash, donate, and the items that belong in your home are out of the garage you can sort the remaining items into categories. The most common categories I find while helping someone organize their garage are; tools, lawn/garden, car supplies, kids toys and bikes, sports equipment, paint/painting supplies, pet items, recreational items such as coolers and lawn chairs, and materials used for projects. Sorting into categories will help you see how many items you have, making it easier to eliminate any duplicates.

    Now that you have the items sorted it’s time to find permanent homes for them. The front of the garage should be used for those items you don’t use very often while the back of the garage is used for items you take in and out of the garage regularly. It makes sense to store the snow blower at the front of the garage during the summer months while keeping the lawn mower at the back of the garage for easy access. As the seasons change so does the location of this equipment. Kid’s toys and bikes are another good thing to keep towards the back of the garage. This cuts down on the possibility of your car getting scratched as they leave the garage while making it easer for kids to get their belongings.

    Also at the front of the garage should be items used frequently in your home. Extra bottled water, packages of paper towels and pet food and be kept near the service door for easy retrieval. Keeping a cubby for outdoor shoes in this area is also helpful. I also recommend a small trash can and recycle bin be kept towards the front, making it easy to dispose of trash from the car.

    When thinking about the permanent location of items, those items you use infrequently should be located on higher or lower shelves saving the shelves that are at chest level for those you use on a regular basis. Paint and painting supplies could be stored on a higher or lower shelf while everyday tools are stored at chest level.

    Once you have found a home for everything label shelves and bins with the category names. This makes items easy to retrieve and put away. Labeling not only helps you find it faster, but others in your household know where things belong.

    When your finished organizing the garage take a step back and look at the trash/donate piles and then look at your car. Remember which one is most important to you so you stay motivated to keep your garage clutter-free.

  • 01 Aug 2012 9:36 AM | Julie Riber, CPO®

    The school year is right around the corner and now is a perfect time to set your kids up for success.  Check out these tips to help make homework go a bit smoother.  First, create a workstation to keep important school supplies easily accessible.   By doing so you won‘t waste twenty minutes searching for a blue pen because a teacher insists all work is done in blue pen.  If a specified desk or “office” is not available for a workstation, try creating a toolbox.  Stock it with the supplies your kids will need on a regular basis and place it in a common area of your home such as a kitchen cabinet or dining room buffet.  Then just pull it out when they need to work and put it away in its designated home when finished.  Keeping supplies at the ready will help to make sure work is completed in a timely manner and with less stress.

    Next, make studying simpler by creating a subject system.  It's terrible when your child sits down to do homework and realizes they have the wrong text book or notebook.  To help prevent additional trips to the locker or late homework, make books, notebooks and folders easier to identify by coordinating items for each subject.  Cover the algebra book with a bright red color and match it with a bright red notebook.  What if your child doesn’t cover their books?  Make a color copy of the cover of their biology book and slide it into a binder with a clear view pocket on the front for easy identification.  Taking time to organize before school starts can help avoid headaches and arguments after school begins.

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NAPO-Ohio is a legal entity separate and distinct from NAPO, Inc. (the National Assoc of Productivity & Organizing Profs) and is not entitled to act on behalf of or to bind NAPO, contractually or otherwise.  

NAPO-Ohio Chapter Members are a legal entity separate and distinct from NAPO-Ohio and are not entitled to act on behalf of or to bind NAPO-Ohio, contractually or otherwise.

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