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Tips & Tricks from the Experts in the Industry

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

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  • 02 May 2021 12:10 PM | Hayley Lauterbur (Administrator)

    We are going to start with a couple of questions.  Do you network?  Are you confident in your networking skills? What would networking do for you professionally? 

    Now let's talk about networking for a few minutes.  Why, because it is important and it is one of the main benefits of being a NAPO Ohio member.  The more confident you are in doing it, the better your experience will be and the more you get out of your experience.

    Networking is the act of meeting new people in a business or professional context. It is common for there to be an exchange of information or ideas.  It can also become a source for referrals or collaborations.  I don’t know about you, but that sounds important to me.  Especially since entrepreneurs often work alone, networking can prevent you from feeling isolated. Great, so its important how do you get better at it?

    First, I don’t consider myself an expert, so if you want to grow in networking you may want to explore the topic with additional resources.  That said my personal journey should give everyone hope that you can grow in the networking skill.  I considered myself weak in the skill and if I am being completely honest, I had a lot of negative talk around it.  The thing I loathed the most, phone calls – wasn’t a fan.  The first obstacle I faced was overcoming my thoughts and ideas about my own networking performance.  If this sounds like you, you aren’t alone.  You can absolutely turn your mindset around!

    If you have decided to get better at networking, set a goal.  I started with professional social media reach outs. LinkedIn, Alignable and NAPO Point are professional platforms you can use to network.  Set a goal of time spent on the platform and/or number of messages you send out.  It helps to have a plan of the businesses or professions you would like to network with. It focuses your efforts and makes the process more efficient.

    Next, I tackled phone calls and then in person meetings.  Since I don’t feel comfortable cold calling, making calls was the second step of my plan, which helped me overcome my mental block.  Set a goal of calls per week.  Calls usually are around 15 minutes in length.  Before making the call identify what you can share and what you might receive.  Are you looking for advice, feedback, or to share a client base?  Be clear about what you are looking for and be open to share what could be of value to the other person.

    Finally, in person (or virtual face to face) meetings.  Phone calls are good, but for me in person is where it is at.  Set a goal of meetings per month.  Come prepared with some relevant questions and business material.  You will also want to be prepared to take notes.  You want to remember important information and note inspiration when it strikes.  It is also important to follow up on any actions you have committed to after the meeting and to send a thank you to the person for their time.

    NAPO Ohio is a great place to network.  We have shared passions and professions.  The contact information for members and business partners are available to you on our NAPO Ohio Site.  If you’re shy, start with social media or an e-mail.  Comment on NAPO Ohio social media posts; I call this digital networking.  When we are in person again, make a point to introduce yourself to one or two members and have a short conversation.  Volunteer to be a buddy for a prospective or new member.  Most importantly, take action today. 

    The most important thing I learned when I decided to get better at networking, because I felt like my business success depends on it, is that taking action is the most important thing you can do to affect change.  I challenge you to take action now on one or two things you can do to improve your networking skills in the next month.  I know you can do it.  Now raise you arms up and say out loud, “I am a networking champ”!

  • 05 Apr 2021 12:39 PM | Julie Riber, CPO®

    April Brings Spring Cleaning

     Every spring you plan on cleaning out all the closets, deep cleaning the cupboards and maybe even having a garage sale to remove all the clutter in the basement or garage.  It seems like you never have the time, or the weather is so nice you would rather be outside.  The kids have started their spring sport programs with practices and games.  Your time is limited so choose the area to clean based on the weather. 

    When it is 70 degrees or above and sunny out, clean out the garage or work on the yard. For the garage, you will want to take most items out to spray out the salt and chemicals that have accumulated on your garage floor over the winter.  Tracking those in the house is bad on any type of flooring you have.  In your yard it means cleaning up the leaves that you missed on the last rake during the fall or picking up all those limbs that fell during the winter.  Some even see small early weeds to pull so they do not take over your early flowers. 

    Save the cooler April days for the basement and inside.  If you have children, choose a rainy April day to go through their wardrobe.  Do not try to do it all in one sitting.  Try on short sleeved shirts one day and shorts the next.  The warm weather happens gradually, so you have time if you did not have to donate all their clothes from last year.  Make a list of items they will need for the warmer weather and maybe you will be lucky and see them on sale. 

    Your wardrobe should also be examined.  Decide what you wore last year and what you did not.  Styles change and most people do not wear in their 40’s what they wore in their 20’s.  Decide on what you like and keep items you will really wear.  Maybe you changed careers and your current job is more casual or you are now working from home.  Many experts will tell you to keep the classics not the trendy clothes and that goes for shoes too.  Comfort is also important on shoes as you do not want to be in pain every time you take a step. 

    The basement can also be cleaned out during the spring, so items are easier to find when you need them.  Shelving will help keep items off the floor and avoid stacking and the often, crushed box or bin.  Remember to remove anything you are no longer using and anything that has been sitting and unused for years. 

    The spring brings us hope and time to declutter so we may enjoy the summer and the outside. 

  • 28 Feb 2021 12:57 PM | Olive Wagar (Administrator)

    I am very thankful that my little corner of the world has four seasons. I enjoy seeing the promise of Genesis 8:22 unfold before my eyes: “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease.” Knowing that spring is right around the corner motivates me to follow through with the following simple refreshing tips:

    S—SORT through your clothes! Go ahead and freshen up your wardrobe by saying goodbye to clothes that don’t fit, don’t look great, and you don’t like.

    P—PURGE those plastic cups and plastic containers.

    R—READ the magazines (or cancel the subscription). Then freshen up a hospital waiting room by donating your magazines while they are still current.

    I—IMAGINE a calm, clean, uncluttered living room…then write down what you can do every day to make it a reality.

    N—NIP the avalanche of junk mail by signing up for opt-out services, such as:




    G—GIVE your extra and unwanted books, DVDs, and CDs to your local library for their annual sale.


    I—INITIATE one new easy healthy habit.

    S—START your day with a clean and shiny and empty sink.

    A – ASK for help from a professional organizer! :)

    L—LEAVE behind the mistakes and clutter of the past.

    M—MINIMIZE your cleaning supplies by using multi-purpose products.

    O—OPEN the curtains, wash the windows, and let the sun shine in your rooms.

    S—SET limits on your garage storage with similar sized sturdy bins with labels.

    T – TAKE the time to sort through games and toys your children have outgrown.


    H—HEAVE old travel brochures, knickknacks, coffee mugs, T-shirts, souvenirs, and bulky suitcases to make room for fresh adventures.

    E—ELIMINATE last year’s clutter from your porch and yard.

    R—REPLACE your stained and faded kitchen towels with fresh new ones that make you smile.

    E—ENJOY each spring day. Let your heart be refreshed and renewed!

    Do yourself a favor--take advantage of the change of seasons to refresh your home. Use the next three months before summer to discover the less cluttered side of life. Decide what truly matters in your current season of life. Welcome the opportunity to live with less stuff!

  • 31 Jan 2021 11:32 AM | Birdie Brennan, CPO®

    I have been a professional organizer for over twenty (20) years!  While I can still remember the very spot I stood in when the I made the decision, I am shocked that it has been two decades of work in this profession.  Those two decades account for hundreds of visits, thousands of hours, and a never-ending string of creative problem solving.

    Even with all those differences, every time I walk into a new client’s home there is a story to be told.  A lot of those stories have similar traits, but each is unique and personal to the client.  Maybe it is even the first time the client has gone through the current problem, which makes it front and center in their brain.  Addressing the organizational issues usually leads to an emotional weight being taken off of the family.

    All the above is true in any ‘normal’ year, but 2020 was not a normal year by any definition.  Even at the beginning of February 2021, school day rotations, work meetings, and changing expectations, can all lead to frustration on a daily (maybe hourly) basis.  In the spirit of telling stories, I wanted to give two examples of how clients have dealt with the uneasiness of working from home.  The first is a family located in Central Ohio, two parents that had to start working from home along with three boys that started attending virtual school.  The second is of an individual that left the hustle of New York City to work from her home in Hudson, NY.  While the situations may sound different, the emotional need for organization was very much the same.

    While the day started before 6 AM, real work didn’t really begin until after 10.  When Ohio went to lockdown, the dad would get up early and begin prepping for his workday.  The mom, a middle school teacher, would also begin to prep for the lessons of the day…while learning the new technology that would bring her lessons into the homes of her students.  The three boys would roll out of bed with ten minutes to spare until their classes began for the day.  By 8 AM, the kids broke to their different zones for the school day.  One at a makeshift desk, one from a chair, and one from the comfort of their bed.  The mom reserved a corner of the bedroom for her classroom, and the dad sat a desk behind a laptop.  Then the musical chairs would start…technology problems for the first kid, checking to make sure the almost teenager was actually ‘in’ school, and then running up stairs to make sure the other near teenager hadn’t fallen back to sleep.  The dad felt like Tigger, bouncing from room to room, putting in a half days work before he had time to check email.

    I would venture to guess that most families shared the same struggles and dealt with the overwhelming emotions of not knowing how to handle the uncertainty of a new world.  The story of this family is that they needed simple organizational tools so that each member could create their own world to learn and work.  After talking with the parents and learning more about their needs, I focused my efforts on the following…

    • ·        Essentials – Create a small list of the essential items each person needed to complete their work.  The kids did not need an entire book bag spread out on the floor next to them for the entire day.  Instead, the bag hooks stayed in the same place and when a new subject started the kid could go take out the required work.  The same is true for parents…by taking 10 minutes at night to plan for the next day, they could identify the required paperwork/computer/etc. that would be needed for the next morning.  Don’t bring ten different items to a meeting but let the priorities of the moment tell you what is necessary.
    • ·        Zones and Communication – Even though the house was big enough for everyone to have their own room, noise travels loud and fast.  We developed ‘signs’ for each person to use when they couldn’t be interrupted.  The dad chose to only put on his headphones when he was in a meeting.  If the kids needed help and saw that the headphones were on, they knew to either write a note or check with another person.  The reverse was true of the children as they always wanted their headphones on.  Waving, thumbs up, or a quick sign allowed the parents to check on the kids and make sure they were okay.
    • ·        Personalization – This standard is true for all of my organization clients…they need systems and a space that works FOR them and not AGAINST them.  The classroom set up for the mom was a great example of being creative with space and storage.  First, we emptied and pivoted the large dresser to serve as her ‘desk’.  This allowed for plenty of storage of papers, markers, computer battery, devices, and everything else that was needed for the day.  Second, we focused on sunlight and made sure she had access to the three large windows in the bedroom.  Lastly, stools from the kitchen bar were brought upstairs so that she could ‘rest’ while teaching throughout the day.

    Even though the emotions of this family were shared by nearly every family out there, the situation was new to them and therefore demanded a creative approach.

    Now take a moment to think about our second story.  An individual that gets away from the constant movement, noise, and disruption of a traditional office and goes into the solitude of single living/working hundreds of miles away from coworkers.  My guess is that many of us would welcome this second example … “I can work in peace and quiet”.  What many of us found is that after weeks of being alone the workday stretched from before sunup to well after sundown.  That constant workday stretched to being one long work week, and eventually to extremely long work months.  Knowing the additional stress that many of us felt, I focused my efforts on the following…

    • ·        Environment – Use art, especially art that elicits a positive reaction, to reinvent your workspace.  The neutered white walls of an office should not be brought home to create a sterile environment.  We went through the paintings of this clients and arranged them as a great front drop so that happiness was generated when looking up or taking a break.
    • ·        Storage – The Hudson home was a second home/Airbnb property for this client.  While it was set up extremely well for vacationers, quick and accessible storage for work purposes was not present.  One remedy was to create a sleek looking workstation that provided ample amounts of quick storage.  The result was to create a wall long bookshelf with cabinets on either end.  Paperwork could be arranged based on need, scheduled meetings, or completion.
    • ·        Time Management – What many other have experienced are days that blend into each other.  Just because you have work in front of you all the time does not mean that you should be working all the time.  Creating breaks in your schedule for a walk, lunch, or maybe a quick nap are necessities in this new work environment.  The hard part is that while designing a schedule is the easy part but holding yourself accountable to these breaks is something that many of us need to work on.

    Many large corporations have already stated that their office workers will not come back to the traditional office until at least the third quarter of 2021.  That news provides us with nearly six more months of working from home…and don’t forget spring and summer break for the kids.  Even though the two stories I outlined were different in nature, the solutions were focused on meeting their specific needs.  Working with each client on a one to one basis, while sticking to the tried and true fundamentals of organization allowed me to develop answers to their problems and give them the chance to be successful.

  • 29 Dec 2020 12:42 PM | Cathy Van Volkenburg CPO®

    As we welcome a new year bringing hope for a return to a new “normal”, it is interesting to reflect on the changes many of us have experienced during the pandemic while sheltering in place.  Our homes now must serve us in new and unexpected ways that we never thought possible!

    Being forced to create new spaces for online schooling, working at home, and daycare have opened our eyes to how our homes function on so many levels. 2020 has given many people the rare opportunity to really evaluate our homes like never before! We can’t simply ignore what isn’t working anymore! Instead of hooking up the computers and working at the kitchen table, can we take an extra bedroom and create an office? Where do we store the masks and hand sanitizers  so we don’t forget to take them with us every time we leave the house? How do we meet all of our needs and still make our homes a respite from the realities of Covid-19? For each scenario, there are many possible solutions. How do we begin?

    The organizing industry is showing us ways to make our pantries Instagram ready and our closets bursting with joy.  These episodes are entertaining; they inspire us with possibilities. Professional Organizers assist individuals and businesses in defining possibilities. The pandemic has underscored the importance of living in a home that is set up to accommodate our new normal way of living.  Is your home supporting you?  Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

    Do you have what you need?

    Can you find what you want quickly?

    What is working?

    What is not working?

    Is it time to change the function of a space?

    What spaces or items no longer serve your new normal?

    As we contemplate change, the answers to these questions will help us determine our priorities. Perhaps one silver lining we can take from 2020 is that we have a new lens with which to view our homes.  May your home support and nurture you in 2021 and beyond.

    Cathy Van Volkenburg CPO®

    Accent on Organizing


  • 03 Dec 2020 8:12 PM | Ellen Limes, CPO® (Administrator)

    Ah, Christmas! The time of giving and receiving and receiving and receiving!

    Many people get overwhelmed with Christmas and want to reduce the volume of gifts.  Whether is it giving or receiving, there is volume.  If you are longing for a simpler time, there is no time like the present to begin.

    The most difficult part is starting the discussion. Ideally, these discussions should take place before the “season”, but right now can work too. If you are broaching the subject with your extended family, try to schedule a multi person call so all those involved can hear it all.  Emailing to start the conversation is another possibility.  As great as technology is, there also are faults.  Many times, feelings are hurt, things are read and interpreted wrong as well as misconstrued.  Be sure to think through your email before pressing SEND.  If you are raising the discussion with the members of your household, consider starting new traditions that might not involve physical “gifts”.

    Whatever your intent, make sure that others know this is how YOU feel.  They can join you in your desire to “reduce” or they can hopefully understand where you are coming from in your desire to reduce.  Not everyone is going to understand why you feel this way, but you are entitled to your opinion.  Be sure to not appear judgmental. This is what you need to do for you.

    In addition to changing the influx of gifts, you might also consider the present volume of things in your home.  Asking yourself some questions may help you get some answers.  For instance, are you happy in your home? Are there aspects of your home that frustrate you? Do you feel comfortable inviting people into your home? And most importantly, can you get your car in the garage? Once you determine if there is a need, or better yet a want, to make a change, then you are half-way there. Sometimes the vision of a Professional Organizer can enlighten you to things you had not considered. A fresh set of eyes can help you reveal a brand-new home for you to enjoy during the holidays and beyond.

  • 05 Nov 2020 9:10 AM | Olive Wagar (Administrator)

    My 7-year old granddaughter knows what it means to be organized! When she came for a recent visit, she wasted no time unpacking her suitcase and setting up her things in my guest room. In fact, she politely asked me to empty out my vanity drawers so she could neatly arrange her clothes and books.  She cleared off the top of the vanity and carefully set aside my items in the corner of the room. Then she thoughtfully placed her doll and hair accessories where she wanted them to be. She finished getting settles by arranging her (many) stuffed animals along the top of the bed. She made it her space and she kept it neat and tidy during her 5-day stay. 

    Maybe we could all learn a thing or two from this sweet little girl!

    • She had out the things that were special to her so that she could enjoy them.
    • She gave each item a home so that she knew where to put each item when she was finished with it.
    • She genuinely enjoyed creating and maintaining a sense of order.
    • Did I mention she is 7 years old?!

    Last summer during a visit, she asked me to help her organize her room. We sorted through her books, papers, toys, supplies, and treasures. She chose which ones to keep. Then she made the labels – in her own handwriting – for each of the drawers. She was so pleased and proud when we finished.

    So what was her simple organizing method?

    • Making decisions
    • Setting limits
    • Using labels
    • Enjoying the space

    At 7 years old, she is getting an early start at creating and maintaining a sense of order.  Who knows --maybe she is getting an early start at becoming a professional organizer too!! At any rate, hopefully her story will bring a smile to your face and a dose of encouragement to your heart to take the time to organize one small area in your home today!!

    This post originally appeared on www.organizedbyolive.com.

  • 19 Oct 2020 5:40 PM | Olive Wagar (Administrator)

    I’ve been deliberately and intentionally sorting through storage bins in my garage. I have opened every single one and asked myself if the contents were still worth keeping. I will admit that some bins were easier to deal with than others! The easier bins were the ones where the contents were so obviously outdated and obsolete that I laughed out loud when I held the contents in my hands. I enjoyed thinking about the memories, but quickly discarded the items. Other items immediately brought to mind a specific someone who could use the item right now. Of course, there were many items that were appropriate for donating. I sorted what was left, attached new labels to the bins, and re-stacked the keepers at the back of my garage. 

    I hesitated looking at the several bins of homeschool books. I wondered if I would be too sentimentally attached to pass along any of them. Much to my surprise, it was easier than I had anticipated. Could it be that the 12 years (yikes!) that had passed since homeschooling my 3 children had indeed created a sufficient buffer to realistically evaluate these wonderful resources? Yes, I’m happy to report, that was indeed the case. I refreshed my selections of books in my living room to match the current reading levels of my grandchildren and put away all the younger ones. I put together a surprise box to send to them in the mail—which they received with excitement today! I dropped off a box of paperback books at the local laundromat.  I selected ones to donate and without guilt tossed the ones that were obviously out of date. I sorted the remaining true treasures into more relevant categories and labeled each bin. And I ended up with several empty bins!

    One bin contained my adult son’s key chain collection which he started during his preschool years. As I opened that bin, I again wondered if I could eliminate any. I dumped them all out onto a big table. Immediately I saw several duplicates which could be donated. Then I picked out ones that were broken. I tossed the ones made of plastic that were sticky or yucky. I smiled the whole time remembering how much enjoyment collecting these key chains brought to everyone in the family. When my son was in 5th grade, he even had the opportunity to display them at our local library. Friends, relatives, and even strangers had contributed to this collection.  But it wasn’t necessary to keep every single one. Now I had the opportunity to send the best on to my son. That refreshed collection ended up being just the right amount for a large flat rate postal box, which is currently on its way to Texas.

    I almost overlooked 2 bins at the end of a shelf—simply because they had probably been there about 10 years! I am so glad that I took the time to open them. As it turned out, they contained items that belonged to my father that my mother had packed away. Both of my parents have been gone for several years. I was absolutely amazed to find one of the best pictures ever of my dad taken when he had won a city bowling tournament in 1968. What? How did I not know about this? How had I never before seen this picture? Even more amazing was a leather envelope-sized portfolio with his original discharge papers, a letter from President Truman thanking him for his service in WW2, and a letter from General Omar Bradley regarding his veteran benefits. The leather portfolio was engraved in gold with his name on the front and “Presented for Your Discharge and Service Papers – Your Valued Possessions / Christmas 1945 / McGraw Chevrolet” on the back. These must have been given to each employee that served in the military. It looks brand new! Once again, I had never seen this before. Now I am using it to hold my car insurance papers, which is quite the upgrade from my previous plastic folder held together with tape. I will be reminded of his service whenever I look at it. The fact is, if he had not returned safely, I would not be here today.

    My plea to you is to open those boxes and bins! Give yourself permission to only keep the best and donate, share, or toss the rest. Find the hidden treasures. And treasure the memories. :)

    Originally posted by Olive Wagar at https://www.organizedbyolive.com

  • 30 Apr 2020 3:25 PM | Olive Wagar (Administrator)

    If you have felt rather overwhelmed by the COVID-19 crisis, you are not alone. Stocking up on food and supplies, constantly watching the news, and wearing masks in public seems unusual. And it is quite common to feel a sense of anxiety. But don't let those feelings completely control your outlook. Instead, consider these 19 positive next steps that will help you create a sense of calm and order even in uncertain times.

    1. Wash all the sheets & hang outside if possible.

    2. Wash all blankets & throws.

    3. Wash all coats & jackets.

    4. Wash the refrigerator shelves & drawers.

    5. Remove mugs & glasses; clean the area; put back the favorites.

    6. Remove casserole dishes; clean the area; eliminate the odd ones.

    7. Remove plates & bowls; clean the area; put back the best.

    8. Remove pots & pans; clean the area; put back what you really use.

    9. Gather all games; pick out your favorites; have a game night!

    10. Gather all DVDs & CDs from around the house; keep the favorites.

    11. Sweep the floor, run the sweeper, & shake out the rugs.

    12. Wash one window; smile; wash one more window.

    13. Remove one category of clothing from your closet; put back the best.

    14. Repeat for every type of clothing.

    15. Gather all shoes; eliminate duplicate styles & colors.

    16. Empty out the junk drawer; put back the most useful items.

    17. Gather all magazines; set the most recent by your reading spot.

    18. Remove books from shelves; clean the area; put back the favorites.

    19. Sort through coupons, flyers, & junk mail; eliminate quickly.

    Eliminating any amount of clutter is always a good thing! You can pick and choose where and when to start. When you feel like you don't know what to do, simply pick one and then enjoy a small dose of satisfaction and encouragement!! There is always something positive that you can do everyday. Decide. Organize. Enjoy!! :)


  • 16 Mar 2020 2:50 PM | Janet Jackson


    By Janet Jackson

    March 15, 2020

    When I started hosting an online-attendance option for my monthly Express Training, I paid for a commonly known web-meeting service. It was expensive and didn't include all the features I needed. So, I went shopping a bit more and found www.FreeConferenceCall.com

    I have been using this service for over a year now, for my Express Training, for virtual training with groups, for team collaboration meetings, and for client meetings when we just can't meet in person. Here's what I like about it:

        It's free

        It's easy to set up and easy to use

        It doesn't require my attendees to download anything. They just need phone/internet access (unless they need to share their screen with me - then they need to download the app)

        It's free

        It doesn't cost extra for additional features such as recording calls or switching who's screen is being shared

        There's no limit (or at least one that I'll exceed) in regards to number of people who can join the call

        It's free

        I've had almost no technical issues. It's been fuss-free.

        They don't clutter my email's inbox with promos or announcements

        They don't clutter my attendee's email inbox with promos or announcements (that I'm aware of)

        There aren't any annoying ads. I'm honestly a bit confused how they can continue to offer so much for free.

        And one last time - It's free

    What I have not liked about it: Their customer support was lacking (and even annoying) when I reached out due to the one issue I have had. Perhaps I just happened to get "that guy". Regardless, I've since figured it out and unless you're demonstrating PowerPoint slideshow tools while also connected to a projector; I don't think you'll have any issues with it.

    I'm a longtime proponent of virtual meetings in an effort to increase workplace productivity. I don't think they replace all in-person meetings but I do think they can reduce the amount of time we spend in meetings. And certainly as I write this today, there are reasons beyond productivity to consider virtual meeting solutions. I hope this helps!

    May you have blessings and balance and health!

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