Please enjoy this NAPO Austin guest blog by Lindsay Palmgren,
owner of 3e Organizing, reprinted with permission from NAPO National’s blog.
“Brrrrrrrrrriiiinggg!!!” There’s the bell signalling a new school year! This means shopping for school supplies, preparing for new schedules, and getting ready to hit the books again. “Back to School” is for more than just the kiddos. As Professional Organizers, we understand the need for checklists and learning, but are we underestimating the resources right in front of us? Regardless of if you are a new Organizer, or an experienced Organizer, NAPO University has something for everyone! Here are my top 5 reasons why I’ll keep checking out the courses at NAPO University.
1. There’s No Tardy Bell. With courses available both pre-recorded and live, there’s no need to worry about being marked ‘tardy’! You can fit your coursework into YOUR schedule – in between kids’ swim classes, after client appointments, first thing in the morning (after your coffee is brewed, of course), whenever it works for YOU.
2. Syllabuses and Outlines. The courses are broken down into specific topics and segmented videos, with downloadable outlines. This makes it easier to tackle subject matter in small chunks, to take notes, and to resume a class. It makes my organized heart sing!
3. Ditch the #2 pencils. As a NAPO newbie, I was relieved to discover that Organizing 101, 102, and 103 course provided relevant examples and realistic case studies to solve. This really got me thinking about new strategies and methodologies. There wasn’t a scantron test to take either, so no test anxiety here!
4. Members and NAPO improve each other. Learning new skills improves the way we can help our clients, but it also improves the reputation of NAPO as a whole. When NAPO members become more educated, our organization becomes more respected. It helps unify the standard that NAPO sets within our industry.
5. Personal development. Philosophies taught may benefit our personal lives, in addition to professionally. In Organizing 101, the speaker suggested using the “Premack Principle” with a client, however I found myself using the principle on myself. My own goal was to complete the first three NAPO “Going Pro” courses, Organizing 101, 102, & 103, and the reward would be replacing my broken purse. Well, I finally finished my 3-class goal, and have “Gone Pro”.
So there you have it, a NAPO newbie’s take on why NAPO University is a great investment. Now if you excuse me, I’m off to go shopping for my new purse, and my next NAPO course.
Lindsay’s testimonial to NAPO University: “The first class in the NAPO University that I have taken is the Organizing 101 course. It was jam-packed full of valuable information for the newbie in the business! I have taken a few other organizing courses, and this course provided more organizational theory and information within the first 20 minutes than what I had obtained from another (non-NAPO) class. A definite “must take”, and I can see why it’s titled, ‘101’. Thank you, NAPO!”
Please enjoy this guest post, reprinted with permission from
NAPO Austin member Melynda Weiland of Order To Everything
KEEPING AUSTIN ORGANIZED
NAPO Austin is a local chapter of The National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals currently working to help Austin non-profits stay organized by volunteering their organizing services.
I have been in the professional organizing world for over a year now. When I decided to become an organizer, I fully immersed myself in all things organizing so I could find and learn everything there was to know about running my own business.
Organizing was easy, but putting myself out there to market myself and learn the business ropes was super scary. In my research, the first thing I found was NAPO (The National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals).
Now, if you don’t know me, I’m a “everything has to be in place first” kinda gal (that’s everybody, right?). The ability to jump in blind not knowing the outcome is one of my toughest struggles, so my first inclination is to do things, all things, “the right way” and “in the right order” (also known as perfectionism and analysis paralysis). Yup that’s me, so of course finding NAPO first, I joined both the National and Local chapters right away.
Perfection is the death of possibilities. ~
Mary Kay Hamm
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Now typically, my lovely analysis paralysis partner holds me back from getting things accomplished in a timely manner. You know, since everything needs to be perfect first of course. But joining NAPO before I even new what I was really getting in to was the best thing I could have done for myself and my new business.
I have met some wonderful people, formed great relationships and am now growing my business and actively involved in the local chapter as well as helping our community. I say all this to segue into the whole meaning of my post today, which is about NAPO and our new organizing project. (And, if you have perfectionist friend, to have you send her my way!)
This year, NAPO Austin (the local chapter of NAPO) has put in place a new volunteer program to help non-profit organizations in Austin. Our ‘Keep Austin Organized’ project gathers NAPO Austin Chapter member volunteers to visit non-profits in Austin and the surrounding areas to help get their spaces in order and create awareness for their cause. I’ve been fortunate enough to take part in the first two projects and want to share here with you the second.
NAPO Austin helps keep Austin organized one non-profit at a time.
For our first 'Keep Austin Organized' project in 2018, we visited AGE of Central Texas, Round Rock in January.
We transformed their chaotic craft/storage office into an organized space that now allows staff members to easily find what they need to take care of and entertain their members. You can read all about our first project with AGE in Carol Jones’s (A Jones for Organizing) blog post by clicking here or the images below. I just love seeing the transformation.
Our second project for 2018 was for PlanetSAFE, A Program of the SAFE Alliance, to transform two play spaces into enjoyable and functional environments for families to spend time with their children.
PlanetSAFE is an off-site initiative that provides a safe location for children whose families have a history of family violence, stalking, and/or sexual assault, where they can be exchanged between parents for supervised visits and custodial exchanges.
Offering cheerful and bright play spaces and services at no extra cost to the families, PlanetSAFE works to protect Austin’s children from family violence and abuse. NAPO Austin was thrilled and honored to be a part of creating a pleasant experience for family exchanges and making these play spaces both functional and enjoyable for their families. I'm so happy I could be a part of it.
To learn more about PlanetSAFE, visit them at http://www.safeaustin.org/safeprograms/planetsafe/.
Keep Austin Organized - NAPO Austin
We gathered up 6 of our NAPO Austin professional organizers and organized two spaces for PlanetSAFE. One space, more for families with toddlers, and another for families with older children.
The play spaces are home to books, toys, etc.. to entertain the children while visiting with their families. They were filled with toys, games and furniture that, while keeping littles busy, did not utilize the space to it's full potential nor provide homes for items to be put away. Myself and the other volunteers couldn't wait to dive in and have some fun.
Below are photos of the rooms before they received a little TLC from us.
Bulky furniture and toys took over the toddler space creating a crowded and uninviting space.
The priority in both rooms was to give everything a home so the families could easily find what they wanted and be able to place it back in the proper home.
The big kid room had lots of space to work with, but needed more functional storage.
We started with the furniture as some larger items had to be moved to create more function in the rooms. Getting an extra large bookcase from one room to another proved to be quite a challenge to say the least.
How many organizers does it take to move a bookcase? Well, at least 4 and more than 30 minutes! After more than a half hour of working the puzzle (and getting some comic relief), we were finally able to get it moved.
Erin Morper, Kathy Blair, Kate Martin and myself took a crack at moving the monster bookcase. After finally removing the back frame, it made it into the room with a centimeter to spare. Oh, and did I mention it weighed a ton?! Seriously didn't think it was going to go in. All the work was totally worth it though. The bookcase fit the space perfectly and the big kid room now has an awesome storage center for books, games and electronics.
We tend to think the more storage pieces we have the better, but sometime less is more to give everything room to breathe. In both rooms, there were pieces that cluttered the space and didn't provide the necessary storage, so we moved and removed other furniture in addition the the bookcase to open the space and make more room for play.
Once the main bookcase was moved, we were able to finish up the rooms quickly. Games, toys, and books were sorted and new furniture layouts were created to allow everything to fall into place.
I love before and after pics (who doesn't right?), so here is some eye candy to show off the end result!
Both rooms came out looking fantastic.
In the toddler room, the furniture placement created an inviting environment as well as much needed floor space for playing. We utilized space under the tables to maximize storage and gave all of the large items their well deserved wall space.
The big kids room gained more floor space as well as streamlines storage. We created playing zones to make the space fully functional and moved the foosball table to give players the room they need. Now, a craft area provides a space for homework and crafts, the large bookcase houses all games and books and the stuffed animals, dolls and toys are all together.
From left to right: That's Me! Order to Everything, Kate Martin of Organized Joy, Beta Shad of Living Tidy, Erin Morper of Start Somewhere Organizing, Kathy Blair of Envision Organizing, and Jamie Steele of Steele Organizing.
In 3 hours, our NAPO Austin team of professional organizers were able to transform these play spaces and make them the inviting rooms PlanetSAFE needed and wanted. By sorting, assigning homes and organizing, toys and books now have a proper place and the families have plenty of space to play and spend time together. We thank PlanetSAFE for allowing us the opportunity to help them and our community.
If you would like to learn more about PlanetSAFE and how they are helping Austin's children, visit them at http://www.safeaustin.org/safeprograms/planetsafe/.
To learn more about NAPO Austin, visit us at www.napoaustin.com.
Please enjoy this NAPO Austin guest blog
by Kate Martin, owner of Organized Joy.
It’s 6 months into the year and our New Year’s resolutions are mostly memories by now. In fact, according to statisticsbrain.com, last year only 9.2% of people “felt they were successful in achieving their resolution.” Goal setting, making to do lists, and planning projects are things we love to do. But why do only some people follow through all the way?
As Professional Organizers, we help people achieve goals that they cannot do on their own. Individuals and businesses hire us because it’s much easier to get a project done with more help. Especially help from someone without personal attachment to the project. Working with a team is one of the many secrets to better achieving the goals you set for yourself. So, let’s take a closer look at a few things you can do to make next year’s goals even more successful.
Some people don’t follow through on their resolutions because they’ve set the wrong ones. There are so many things we want to do and we want to do them now, of course. But taking a bit of extra time to really soul search is worth it. Set aside some free time and write down anything and everything you want to accomplish. Then pick your top 3 or 5 priorities to focus on this year. Save the rest for when you’ve accomplished your current goals, but keep in mind that they may change along the way.
Look at your past resolutions and determine if they were too big or too small for you to do. Say your goals out loud. Write up a pretend resume with your completed goals to see if it makes you feel proud and accomplished. Research the people you admire to see if your current goals align with who you want to be. Put aside old disappointments and focus on the possibilities of the next 6 months.
For each of your big goals, determine each and every step you need to take along the way. Get incredibly detailed with your steps and leave nothing out. People get tripped up when their goal is “organize the house” or “lose weight” so not much gets done. By breaking the goal up into bite sized pieces, it's much easier. Progress is better measured and small victories can be celebrated along the way.
If you ran into a stumbling block mid-January, recognize and accept it. However now you can analyze which step made you stumble. This time around you can ask for help, delegate certain tasks, or approach your goal in a new way.
Your new very detailed goal can seem daunting now that it’s gotten quite large. The secret to accomplishing these many parts is assigning dates to each thing you want to do. Let’s say one of your goals is to re-do a room in your home – paint the walls and move the furniture. Setting aside one weekend may get a lot of it done, but not all. A more successful goal timeline might look like this:
Thursday: List all room projects to do and supplies needed
Friday: Buy supplies and call friends to help out
Saturday: Order pizza, assign tasks to friends (move furniture, paint, clean up, put furniture back in place) and everyone starts working
Sunday: Buy additional supplies (another Home Depot trip as usual) and finish up tasks on your own (new artwork hung, new linens washed and put in room)
Monday: Return supplies not needed and drop off trash/donations
Tuesday: Have your best friend over to point out the things you didn’t see and finally finish your room.
People often get bogged down with daily tasks so they can’t find ample time for their big goals and projects. The more you can automate your daily items, the more you can devote to your big bold goals. If you use a paper planner, try writing in your entire year’s tasks now. Then you can see what chunks of time you have left to devote to your big goals.
If you use a digital calendar, create tasks that repeat every week, month, or year so you never forget the little things again. If you are a true techy, have Alexa, Siri, or Google remind you in a fun and frequent way (try getting Alexa to tell the kids it’s time for bed instead of you!).
Here are a few tasks to automate and remove from your brain:
Birthdays - sending cards or buying presents
Quarterly or yearly paperwork requirements like tax due dates
Changing AC filters
Rotating your mattresses
Purging your wardrobe seasonally
Checking fire extinguishers and smoke alarm batteries
Let’s go back to that first tip about how people hire Professional Organizers to help with their goals. It’s often much easier for someone who doesn’t live with you to help you because they see things you can’t. We sometimes move into our homes and place objects in random places thinking we’ll move them later. 5 years afterwards, that item has its home, for better or worse, and it’s up to a professional to ask why.
It’s the same way with goals, so ask someone else to be an accountability partner for you. Tell them your goals, explain your why (which might even surprise you), and state your dates. Check in regularly to keep up your progress and reward yourself along the way for sticking to your plan. Try also being an accountability partner for your friend and celebrate your success together.
You’ve got 6 more months until the end of the year. Plenty of time to add author or professional chef or artist to your repertoire. So, figure out your 2nd set of goals for the year and get going. There’s no time like now.
NAPO-Austin Librarian, Beta Shad, reviews "Growing Your Business!"
There are so many text book style references about different ways to grow your business. Hundreds of pages long and needless to say BORING! Growing Your Business! is a quick and simple, to-the-point read that gives easy to implement strategies to effectively grow your business. That is what we are all striving to do right?
This book gets you thinking about which direction you want to take your business and what it will take to get you there. Whether you are just getting started or you are well established and you are interested in learning a new perspective, this book is a tiny gem for anyone in business. LeBlanc provides variations on ideas that exist in the business world today and offers strategies on how to position yourself for more prospects. He suggests that you present the outcomes of your work and it will lead you to more clients and sales.
He also touches on the hot topic of mindset. But he is not referring to changing your own mindset from negative to positive thinking, although that is very important. He offers the perspective of the potential clients mindset and suggests that if you can understand their way of thinking you can then respond in a way that will meet their needs.
“Position what prospects need in a way they want it, and you will have people busting down your door!”
Just like in any area of your life, in order to see results you must keep your focus daily and TAKE THE ACTION. What you focus on expands, so get clear on the most important aspects of your business. Putting your focus there will make decision making easier, which will cut out some unnecessary stress. By keeping it simple, with consistent effort everyday, anything is possible.
Last but certainly not least, as another important way to help grow your business, LeBlanc recommends surrounding yourself with people who really care about your success. And that is what NAPO members are for! :)
Additional reading recommendation: The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino
NAPO Austin Professional Organizer Ryan Lanier of LOVE Your Space Organizing reminisces on her time at the NAPO 2018 Retreat.
I started my biz in Jan 2017, but was not able to go to Conference that year, so it’s been over a year of anticipation for me to finally GET TO GO!! This year’s “retreat-style” had all the veterans head-scratching and wondering what it could possibly look like? The Q Center in St. Charles, IL, just outside of big-town Chicago, was indeed in a restful, wooded area, but also had ample facility to host several concurrent conferences. Here are some take-aways...
#1. The cafeteria! The extensive buffet-style food was included, delicious, and catered to ALL dietary needs. The seating area invited interaction, and I made it a priority to sit down and introduce myself to new people so as to make those connections that are the invaluable part of going to Conference. You have to push yourself sometimes in order to reap benefits.
#2. The sessions! Wow. From the keynote, Jessica Butts, who blew our minds with fascinating research and compelling evidence as to how imperative it is for us to take our clients’ personality types into consideration while working with them, to the session on how multi-taking ACTUALLY makes us stupid by dividing our attention so badly that you’d be more productive while being HIGH than trying to do to “simultaneous” tasks!!! If you couldn’t go, make time to listen to the sessions. Again, push yourself to get educated from other NAPO members.
#3. The sisterhood of powerful women! Unbelievable. The caliber of strong, motivated, successful entrepreneurs at both elbows is simultaneously intimidating and intensely compelling. As a newbie of less than 1 ½ years in biz, I found the energy of being surrounded by so many levels of business owners to be intoxicating. The resource that NAPO is, the education it offers, the legitimate business generator that it provides are here for us to access and integrate into our own businesses. (Oh, and they LOVE to DANCE like no one's watching!!!!)
The best news of the weekend was that next year it will be in FORT WORTH: within driving distance for us! This is a perfect opportunity to GET TO CONFERENCE in 2019 without the added expense of a plane ticket. So register now in the early-bird window, and pat yourself on the back for deciding to drink the NAPO Kool Aid! (and register! Do it now!)
Professional Home Organizer
LOVE Your Space Organizing
Having a disorganized closet is stressful and can create a domino effect of other disorganized spaces in your home. Here are 5 easy steps to get you to an organized closet and free you from your overwhelm.
You know, when you step over things on the floor and reach over piles to get a shirt off the hanger or when you're unable to find anything because it's busting at the seams? So frustrating!! It’s a pain to get to the clothes in the first place, so putting them back isn’t any easier. This leads to a jumbled mess of clothes on the floor or draped garments over anything that appears to be a surface.
Having a cluttered closet can cause undue stress in our already chaotic lives. Not only is it a time waster, it can literally set a bad tone for your entire day stirring up irritability and frustration.
This pattern of clutter can spill from the closet through the entire home. Nobody wants their day to start with an overwhelming feeling of anxiety or stress. Worry not, this post has got you covered. I've put together 5 easy steps to free you from your closet clutter and take that anxiety level down to zilch.
Closets come in all shapes and sizes and the amount of clutter will differ from person to person, but the way in which you organize it is the same. Set aside a bit of time, use these 5 easy steps to organize your closet and you’ll be doin a little dance in your clear space instead of getting overwhelmed in the mornings.
The 5 Easy Steps To An Organized Closet
Put It All In Place
Your closet is going to be clutter free and fabulous, are you ready?!
OK, so remove everything from your closet first. It’s important to see and touch all of your clothing, shoes, etc. to make accurate decisions on whether you will keep them or not.
Taking a closer peek at each piece will give you, not only the opportunity to see how many things you’ve kept from the 80’s or still have because you know you’ll fit into it one day, but a better view of the styles, colors, and condition of what is there.
Viewing the empty space of your newly cleared out closet will also give you a different vantage point. This will allow you to see all the possibilities of placing items back into your space.
Does it fit? Will I ever really wear this? Are there any rips or tears? Do I love it? Do I really need a furry hat with tassels?
Be honest with yourself. Just because you may lose weight this summer, will those jeans really be what you want to wear? When going through your items, divide them into 6 piles: save, relocate, donate, sell, recycle, and trash. The answers to your questions will help you put items in the right piles. Whatever is in the save pile goes back in, everything else goes.
Doesn't that feel great?!
Create categories to keep your closet orderly. Having categories such as tank tops, sweaters, long sleeve, short sleeve, etc.. will not only make the space look better, it will also make it easier to find what you are looking for. You can find more category ideas in my free Clothing Category Guide here.
Start by separating clothing by type such as season, business, casual, etc... For example, separate your date night attire from your every day, on the go wardrobe.
Once you have your core types, move on to create sub-categories within those types as mentioned above. Long sleeve, short sleeve, tank tops, etc... This will create an additional layer of categorizing to amp up an easy “go to and grab” system for your closet.
If you want to have a little fun, take it one step further and organize each category by color. The next time you need a black tank top, you’ll find it in a snap!
Time for the fun! Now that you know what you’re going to save, it’s time to gather any bins, hangers, etc.. you may need to put it all in place. Begin by putting everything back in the closet where you want it to go and take inventory.
Create a list of containers, shelves, hangers, etc.. needed to house your items and measure, measure, measure.
You may think that measuring the shelf is enough, but measuring what is being placed there is essential as well in finding the right size container or organizing solution.
Think height, width, and depth of everything from the shelving, that stack of purses you’re going to hang, to how long those 3 rows of shoes are and write it down. You’ll thank yourself later with a latte or glass of wine, promise! With your measurements of height, width, and depth in hand, or on your phone (I use Asana, check it out here), it’s time to go shopping!
…did you remember to measure?
You’ve gone shopping and you have everything to need to complete your closet. With your new containers and organizing solutions, place all of your items in their new homes.
Create labels for bins and, voila! You have an organized closet.
If you’re tight on time, start working on one section of the closet first and move on to other sections as you go.
Use space saving shoe holders or shoe bins to create more space for your shoes.
Always measure the largest item to go in an area when measuring for bins to ensure everything will fit.
Think vertical. Most closets have a ton of space above the top shelf. Store luggage, stack bins with lids to house seasonal or rarely used items, or add shelving to utilize the space to your advantage.
I’m going to be tackling my Master Closet. I'll be documenting my progress on Facebook next month. What closet are you going to conquer to clear your clutter?
I’d love to know and see what you’re doing! Come visit me on Facebook or Instagram and share your progress, your pains and your wins.
Don’t forget to download my FREE Clothing Category Guide! Click here to grab it.
This page contains affiliate links which means I will earn a commission if you use those links at no additional charge to you. I only recommend products and brands I use and trust.
What do you get when you throw a bunch of NAPO-Austin Professional Organizers into a room with disorganized craft supplies? Well, at first, you get lots of wild sorting, big messy piles on tables, and some crazy laughing. At the end, you get a room full of beautifully organized items.
NAPO-Austin is the local chapter of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals. Our professional organizer members love nothing better than to tackle big messes and make them more manageable.
For our “Keep Austin Organized” community project in January 2018, NAPO-Austin went to AGE of Central Texas at the Round Rock location to help them out. AGE of Central Texas is a wonderful nonprofit organization that provides services for senior citizens. They have a Health Equipment Lending Program where they lend out wheelchairs, crutches, shower chairs, and other mobility equipment, for free. http://www.ageofcentraltx.org/help.php They offer Caregiver Information and Resources http://www.ageofcentraltx.org/caregiver.php and an Early Memory Loss Support program. http://www.ageofcentraltx.org/early_memory_loss.php
They do a fabulous job of taking care of our senior citizens who need help, in Austin and Round Rock! In their Adult Day Health Care Center, they have all kinds of craft supplies, toys, and games to keep their senior clients entertained.
Organizing all those things was going to be a fun challenge! Here is the NAPO-Austin team that tackled this project. Top row from left to right: Merilee Abboud of Clutter Concierge, Carol Jones of A Jones For Organizing, Pam Clyde of BritLin Services, Courtney Grand of Make It Grand Organizing, Christina Potter (retired), Kate Martin of Organized Joy, Melynda Weiland of Order To Everything, Jamie Steele of Steele Organizing, bottom row, left to right: Ryan Lanier of Love Your Space, Kathy Blair of Envision Organizing, and Angela Murphy of Organizational Bliss. Not shown: Randi Lyman of A Helping Hand.
Before we started the project, the storage room of craft supplies looked like this.
Some bins were labeled incorrectly, items were scattered in different places, and nothing had a permanent home. It was difficult to find what you were looking for, and impossible to keep track of inventory.
After we finished, it looked like this!
Everything is now grouped by categories. The games are all together, the paint bottles, fabric, yarn, and beads all have permanent homes, and everything is clearly labeled. There was enough room left over to keep three shelves empty for drying wet art projects.
Grouping similar things together into labeled spots makes everything easier to find. Managing the craft supplies and incoming donations will be much easier now for Naomi Dalsbo, Activity Director of AGE at Round Rock. “You all are rock stars!” said Naomi. “I can’t tell you how great this improvement will be for us.” Below, Naomi Dalsbo is thrilled with the chaos because she knows it will be so much better when we are done.
See below for some fun pictures of the process.
Let the transformation begin! We pulled everything out of the storage room, put it on tables, and began sorting. It always gets much messier at the beginning!
Ryan Lanier of Love Your Space and Christina Potter, retired organizer, break into a dance at the thought of organizing all this fun stuff.
Kate Martin of Organized Joy and Jamie Steele of Steele Organizing love figuring out the best way to organize paper supplies.
Randi Lyman of A Helping Hand and Melynda Weiland of Order To Everything take a smile break.
Kathy Blair of Envision Organizing finds some oversized playing cards and tiny poker chips.
Kate Martin of Organized Joy finds a fun project to work on.
Angela Murphy of Organizational Bliss blisses out on organizing the beads.
Randi Lyman of A Helping Hand and Jamie Steele of Steele Organizing crack each other up.
Naomi Dalsbo and Christina Potter share a hug amid the piles of crafts.
Kate Martin of Organized Joy and Courtney Grand of Make It Grand Organizing discuss strategy.
Kathy Blair of Envision Organizing and Melynda Weiland of Order To Everything work on organizing the games.
Courtney Grand of Make It Grand Organizing proudly shows off the color coordinated paint cabinet she organized.
Ryan Lanier of Love Your Space and Naomi Dalsbo celebrate nearing the end of the project.
Angela Murphy of Organizational Bliss and Pam Clyde of BritLin Services make some color-coded labels for the wire shelving units. Using color to easily find categories is one of our favorite organizing methods!
Melynda Weiland of Order To Everything and Pam Clyde of Britlin Services find a cute sign.
Now, everything has been sorted, containerized and labeled.
One aspect of good organizing is using space effectively. Every inch of available storage in this supply room was used. The vertical empty space underneath this counter was perfect for storing inflatable balls in a wire toy barrel.
Things in this supply room used to get set down on any available flat surface, which made them hard to find later. Now that the NAPO-Austin organizers have swooped in and designated permanent homes for everything, it will all be easy to put away now, and find later. Even the paper cutter and corner punch have official labeled homes!
The NAPO-Austin team of professional organizers had a great time turning a chaotic collection of craft supplies and toys into a straightened-up, shipshape, easy to maintain space. Now we are looking forward to our next community project!
Thank you, AGE of Central Texas, for all that you do to care for our beloved senior citizens in the community!
How to Survive the Holiday Season
By Lindsay Palmgren,
Professional Organizer at 3e Organizing
A few weeks ago NAPO Austin invited me to guest blog on “How to Survive the Holiday Season.” While I brainstormed for different tips and strategies that others could employ in order to not feel so frazzled, I realized I needed to take my own advice. Between renovating our new home and packing for our week-before-Christmas move-in date I am overworked, overcommitted, and overwhelmed. I am just plain, over. Add to this my in-laws and my parents are coming for two weeks to stay at the new house… the one that doesn’t have flooring installed or all the walls painted yet.
And while I’ll be glad to see them, I’m also stressed at the idea that I still need to get floors and walls completed (and the toilet from the garage) in order to host a Christmas dinner that might resemble something like a Stouffers lasagna commercial. Oh, and the PTA is emailing me about getting involved with the school carnival. And there is a club I’m trying to set up at school. And I just found out that my daughter needs to make a dish authentic to Greenland to share with the class!?!? Greenland, really? Can she bring ice? #SnowConesAnyone #DecemberProjectsAreHard
Trying to balance all of this, while also keeping my own home organized (it’s not) and making room in my own schedule for clients. Is hiding from your family in the closet with a box of wine and chocolate a bad thing? If your to-do-list chaos resembles mine, then keep reading for some hot tips on how we can all get through this together.
Prioritize… prioritize… prioritize!
A calendar and to-do-list where you can prioritize action items can be your best friend this holiday season. Break down your list into an A, B, and C list. A is the most important action items, the ones that are time sensitive. The B list is things that need to be done, but maybe don’t have a deadline. The C list is for the things that are nice to get done, but can be put on the back burner if you run out of time.
The trick is you need to stick to it, no matter what. For example: feeding your family is crucial. That goes on the A list. Feeding your family a Pinterest-worthy dinner of toasted-walnut-stuffed-rigatoni made with the tears of unicorns, is not a priority. It’s on the C list. Simplify your to-do-list and you’ll simplify your life.
Streamline your Holiday Shopping
While I normally advise people to shop local, it isn’t always the most practical when you’re overwhelmed with a busy schedule. It’s not always likely that you can go to every mom-and-pop boutique in between boycotting your Pinterest pasta recipe, so therefore Amazon may become your best friend. #AddOnGiftWrapping (P.S. I receive no money or compensation from Amazon for this suggestion.)
Another way to manage your big list is to buddy shop with a friend who has a similar shopping list. For example, if you have to buy for kids in the same age range or same interests, you can trade lists and cut down on your brainpower. This can apply to groceries and other errands as well. This is a great time to hire a babysitter or do a child care trade with a friend. Nobody likes a screaming kid in the store, especially the parent that is trying to hurry. Two heads are better than one so don’t be afraid to ask for help.
It’s important to be mindful of your available time and energy and to know when to take action and when to take a backseat. If your kids are fighting and something’s on fire in the kitchen, you would obviously put out the fire and let the kids fight. Every day things, however, aren’t as easy to delegate and prioritize. You may be asked to head the committee to make authentic handmade glass blown ornaments for children around the world. While of course you may care a great deal about this cause, perhaps you could donate to your favorite relief fund instead? My suggestion is that the relief fund will not only get the most appropriate help to where it needs to go, but it will also be far less stressful for you, and more meaningful to the recipients.
Sometimes we need to be mindful of where our efforts are best spent to have the most meaningful impact. So be strategic about what you take on this holiday season, and leave room in your schedule for all of those inevitable house fires. Hopefully there won’t be real fires. #MicrowavesAreNotForPreschoolers #SpeakingFromExperience
Plan for Buffers
Speaking of leaving room in your schedule, here’s another important tip; give yourself plenty of time for travel. Holiday shoppers and travelers make the roads way more congested. Every-Single-Trip is going to take longer. The errands in the store will take longer. The phrase “stop in quick” will become an oxymoron. Nothing is quick in December. So leave a huge buffer for driving. If you get somewhere early, it's not a terrible thing. Heck, you can get yourself a coffee, power nap in your car, or review your to-do list while you wait in the parking lot. Just enjoy the peace of not feeling rushed. And no, this is NOT the time to scroll Pinterest for holiday ideas. Just say no; you do not need pinecone placecards. #LearnFromMe
Bend it Like Beckham…. or Just Be Flexible
Flexibility is the key to maintaining your sanity, especially this time of year. Things aren’t always going to go the way you planned. Checkout lines are longer, traffic is frustrating, and people are more frazzled. You may tell your well-meaning family that you don't want to receive a roomful of loud squeaky obnoxious toys, however you really can't control what they do buy. You can control the current toy collection by paring down on some of the things the kids have outgrown or no longer play with. If your schedule allows it, try to declutter some in your home before the holidays to make room. If you’re not able to, that’s okay, don’t stress about it. Really. There is always tomorrow. In the meantime, just breathe.
Take Care of Number One
The best way to reduce stress this holiday season is to take care of YOU. I know there's a ton of articles out there about how to have an easy Christmas or happy Hanukkah or a sensational season. I’m here to stress to you, that YOU are the most important person to take care of. Nobody knows you better than you. So whether you need a box of wine hidden in your closet, a bubble bath, a massage, silly YouTube videos, or heck, even a stroll through Walgreens all by yourself; do whatever it is that helps you be a little bit more human. I won’t judge – do whatever it is that fills your cup. When we give to everybody else and not give to ourselves, it's not a pretty thing.
Nourish yourself both metaphorically and literally – that is, don’t forget to eat! Stash a few granola bars in your purse if you need to. This is a lesson I am learning late in life: don't neglect yourself as a sacrifice for others. Make sure to get enough sleep instead of staying up until 3 AM wrapping gifts and then being exhausted and crabby the next day. This doesn't really benefit anybody. You're better off getting plastic bags with a bow slapped on top. Eat well, get lots of sleep, and do one thing a day that feeds you. Trust me, everyone else around you will appreciate this more. At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that you can’t give to other people without giving a little to yourself.
So there you have it – there are my tips to have a less stressful holiday season. I'm certainly not perfect, and I’ll need to re-read the list to myself. Many times. Even as a Professional Organizer. We all need to be reminded to take it easy on ourselves this season. Peace and love to you all!
#StouffersLasagna #Amazon #BoxWine #Babysitters #DropOffDaycare #TradeWithAFriend #Sleep #MyAuthorFriendHelpedMeEditThis
5 Top Summer Vacation Travel Tips
Please enjoy this NAPO Austin interview of guest blogger Erin Morper,
owner of Start Somewhere Professional Organizing Solutions
1. What lists do you make before going on vacation?
I make my packing list by grabbing a sheet of paper and making three columns; in the first column I list the days of the vacation, activities, and the weather forecast for each day, in the second column, I list each item of clothing and whatever accessories I’ll need for each activity, and the third column is a running list of everything to pack. To streamline my lists, I keep the lists necessary for all trips electronically in Evernote so they’re easy to update and share. I have a before we leave, house sitter instructions, and general packing checklist, which saves me so much time getting ready for a trip.
2. What is your favorite travel item?
My favorite travel item is my VW bus toiletry bag. It’s colorful and fun and just packing it helps me get into vacation mode!
3. Do you have any special way of packing a suitcase - fold or roll, certain items on top/bottom, jewelry packing secrets?
It’s amazing how much space you can save in your suitcase by rolling your clothes instead of folding them. I also like to bring my own pillowcase, which doubles as a travel case for necklaces or bracelets to keep them from getting tangled. Simply lay the pillowcase out, place a necklace close to one end, fold the pillowcase over the necklace and repeat!
4. What is your favorite app to use when traveling?
Tripadvisor is my favorite travel app. It’s like Yelp for travel; you can find things to do, restaurants, and real-time reviews wherever you are. If you’re traveling with pets, Bring Fido is an app that locates pet-friendly accommodations and dog parks along your route.
5. What things do you suggest bringing along on a road trip to keep the car clean, organized, and not too boring?
One of my road trip must-haves is a car power inverter with USB ports. It keeps everyone’s devices charged and if you want to plug your laptop in to watch a movie, you can do that too! One thing that’s always on my Before We Leave list is to download podcasts, music and videos for the trip so we can access them in the middle of nowhere without using all of our data. To keep the car clean and organized, I recommend packing wet wipes and a roll of paper towels for messes and spills and a handful of plastic bags for the inevitable accumulation of road trip trash, muddy shoes, wet bathing suits and laundry.
A big thank you to Erin for all of her fabulous travel organizing tips!
If you are planning a vacation and need a little assistance, check out our Find An Organizer page for more help.
We all have so much to do it can be overwhelming. Here are 6 strategies to keep your sanity and master your to-do list.
Following these strategies will put you in control of your to-do list!
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