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Tips & Tricks from the Experts in the Industry

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  • 04 Aug 2013 6:29 PM | Julie Riber, CPO®
    • Yes you need to organize your refrigerator. You shouldn’t have to wear a respirator mask when you open your refrigerator. If you get that smelly waft of air when you open your fridge, something needs to be addressed in there.
    •             Start with a bucket of soapy water and paper towels. One shelf at a time, empty the contents and toss any “fuzzy” food. Wipe off the shelf and the sides near that shelf.  You can also take the whole shelf and wash it in the sink if it really needs more of a scrubbing.
    •             Before you put the contents back on that shelf, wipe off the bottoms of each item.  Glance at the expiration dates. Most condiments will last beyond their expiration date for a short time, but when we’re talking YEARS, you might want to consider replacing those items. 
    •             Don’t forget the drawers. Science experiments are usually growing in there. There are many drawer liners designed for refrigerator drawers. Consider using one of these after the drawer is clean. It helps let some air circulate under the produce in the drawers.  Door shelves can quickly get particularly nasty.
    •             When you return the items to the fridge, think of like things together. Most condiments would go in the door.  But even those can be organized. Put dressings on one shelf; sauces, condiments, etc. on another. Put pickles and jarred items together.  On the shelves, put your dips and the like together. Mini turntables that are used in cabinets can also be used in the fridge.
    •             While you are at it, the freezer probably needs attention. Shelf by shelf, identify what you are pulling out. If you can’t identify it or know what it is, it is probably time to go.  To keep things in check, consider dating items as you store leftovers. If you use freezer bags, write on them as well
    •             Now that you are done cleaning out the fridge, close the door, now open it and take in a deep breath. Isn’t that refreshing!
  • 01 Jul 2013 3:54 PM | Julie Riber, CPO®

    Your kids are old enough to stay home now during the summer but not old enough to work.  So how do you keep them busy and get chores done?  If you rattle off the chores you want them to finish before you leave or the night before, they will not remember more than possibly the first one.  Preparing a list for kids this age is great because it teaches them to organize their time and gets those chores done.  Holding them responsible for the pets and even part of the dinner will build their confidence and teach time organization too.  Remember to put down specific times if that is important, so they know things need to be done in a timely manner.  The list will also help them during school to write down assignments and plan their time wisely. 

  • 02 Jun 2013 3:57 PM | Julie Riber, CPO®

    Do your favorite dishes seem to lack their original pizazz? Are you missing those compliments you’re accustomed to getting? It could be your spices and herbs. All too often we neglect these important ingredients in our kitchen and treat them badly. If you want your cooking to have its old zip, take a look behind your cupboard door.

    Spices and herbs have a shelf life of 2 to 5 years depending on its form. Whole spices last the longest (peppercorns, cinnamon sticks, whole nutmeg). Ground spices have the shortest. Spices that are still potent should have their original color with a vibrant smell and fresh taste. So get into the habit: look, sniff, taste before adding to your dish.  If your spices are fairly new they will have a “best if used by date” ;separate these from the spices that don’t. Next see if they pass the look, sniff, taste test. If your still in doubt consult the manufacturer’s website to decipher the printed code on the bottle. This information is usually found under the FAQ section.

    Store your spices away from heat and light which can reduce their shelf life dramatically. Buy in a quantity appropriate to its use. Date the bottle after purchase with a marker and you will alway’s know how old it is.

    Happy Cooking

  • 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.  Staples.com/better
    • •·         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. www.rubbermaid.com
    • •·         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 wwwAboutOne.com
    • •·          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. www.HomeZada.com
    • •·         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! www.Organizables.com
    • •·         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 www.whatsthatpaint.com
    • •·         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! www.purseperfector.com
    • •·         ShelfGenie will design, build and install custom glide-out shelving solutions.  Get better access and organization for your cabinets.  www.ShelfGenie.com

    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, www.listplanit.com 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.

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