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  • Friday, June 02, 2017 10:34 AM | Cindy Greenleaf (Administrator)

    I’m just back from NAPO’s 2017 Conference in Pittsburgh, PA, and my head is teeming with information and ideas that I’m eager to digest and integrate into my business operations and the work I do with my clients!

    But rather than share a laundry list of the tips, tools, products and strategies that I picked up at conference – which would be a long list – I’m going to share some reflections that attempt to sum up my overall conference experience.  I’m choosing this angle for this article because I want to emphasize the value of “the conference experience” itself.

    For me, the highlight of conference is connecting with fellow organizers. Gathering together in community with peers from around the globe is unbelievably affirming ~ making me feel deep and renewed pride in my profession and reminding me of the high value of my services. Reconnecting with old pals and meeting new friends at conference gets me incredibly jazzed and refuels my tank with ideas and energy for the year ahead. 

    Here I am (center, front) in Pittsburgh with members of our fabulous NAPO Michigan chapter, from left: Linda Fuzi, Susan Hunsberger, Jo Golda, Kari Grady, Leigh MacCready, Sue Elder, Susie Marsh

    I’m not a natural networker, but somehow, at conference, the connections seem to arise organically ~ in the elevators, standing in line for coffee, sitting in a session ~ and the conversations that result invariably yield fun and rewarding outcomes. This year at conference I had the opportunity to spend time with four women who I’ve spent the past 2.5 years with on the phone as students in an organizer-coach training program. It was incredibly special to finally “meet” these friends in person and to deepen our personal and professional bonds. Here we are one morning at conference, out for a walk in Pittsburgh.

    Here I am (second from right) out for a walk with organizer friends in Pittsburgh

    The second most valuable part of conference for me is the opportunity it not just provides – but begs! – for stepping back to consider the big picture. Too regularly in my day-to-day life, I fall into comfortable routines and patterns, failing to make the space and time for looking at my larger goals and dreams. Conference is a fabulous antidote for this. Conference exposes you to speakers who share stories and ask questions that tug at heartstrings and get the stuck wheels of your brain turning again! For me the big takeaway this year – the thing that I am most excited to spend time exploring and working on (both personally, and with my clients) – is writing a personal/professional vision. I’m intrigued and excited by the potential power of the visioning process.

    The third most valuable part of conference for me is learning about specific challenges our clients face and how we can better support them through these challenges.  Returning home with new awareness, deeper understanding, and actionable strategies that I can immediately put into practice with my clients is a hugely rewarding part of the conference experience. This year, for example, I gleaned information that will help me in my work with clients who have ADHD, clients who procrastinate, clients who tell themselves little lies related to their disorganization, grieving clients, families of deceased clients, and clients seeking to enhance their productivity via technology.

    For any organizers reading this who haven’t been to conference, I encourage you to consider attending next year. It can be expensive, yes, and it can be scary to venture into the unknown, but in my experience, it’s an unparalleled growth opportunity not to be missed.

    This was written by Nia Spongberg, CPO®, Chapter Member.  Her business is Spruced Up Spaces LLC.

  • Tuesday, March 28, 2017 12:00 PM | Cindy Greenleaf (Administrator)

    The U.S. Department of Energy reports that 25 percent of people with two-car garages don’t park any cars in their garages.

    If your garage holds everything but your car OR you can never find an item in the garage when you need it, spring is the perfect time to organize your garage.

    The National Association of Professional Organizers, Southeast Michigan Chapter (NAPO-MI) want to share their top ten list on organizing your garage.

    1.     Think about what activities happen in or near your garage.

    2.     Plan task-specific zones in the garage accordingly. Store related items in each zone.

    3.     Hang shelves on walls to free up floor space.

    4.     Use a plastic shoe box to store similar items and parts for each power tool stored in garage. Be sure to label it.  Store on shelves.

    5.     Make use of corners by placing a triangular shelfing unit or gardening tool caddy.

    6.     Hang pegboard to keep hand tools, hoses and extension cords visible.

    7.     Use vertical space whenever possible. Use tall shelving units with adjustable shelves to increase storage capacity.  Rafter space is often overlooked for storage in garages.

    8.     Hang L- or U-shaped utility hooks at top of wall studs to hang seasonal items like ladders and seed spreaders.

    9.     Keep toxic substances like pesticides behind locked doors so they are out of reach of children and pets.

    10.  Keep a fire extinguisher and First Aid kit handy for any emergencies to save precious time, when needed.

    Once you’ve gotten organized, “remember one simple rule:  ‘Whatever you get out ~ you have to put away’.  This not only applies to parking the vehicles in the same place every day, but it also applies to bikes, sports equipment, yard tools and machinery,” said Kathy Tucker, Chapter member. She can be reached at www.finallyorganizedmich.com.

    Organizing your garage is much easier than you think!  For more organizing tips, visit www.NAPOMichigan.com

    Article submitted by Cindy Greenleaf, Chapter member, and Chief Organizing Officer of New Leaf Organizing LLC.  

  • Sunday, February 19, 2017 5:00 PM | Cindy Greenleaf (Administrator)


    Even after you have gotten rid of all the clothes in your closet that don’t fit you, have holes in them or you simply don’t like them anymore,  your remaining clothes are still jammed tight on the closet rod.

    The National Association of Professional Organizers in Michigan wants to share a tip on

    how to make the most of your closet rod space at little cost!

    Often when we hang clothes in our closet, we tend to hang them horizontally and forget about all the vertical space that is available as well. When hanging blouses, shirts, pants and skirts, the space below these items is wasted when the clothes are hung horizontally.  Hanging clothes vertically maximizes on the rod space available and allows you to easily see what is in your closet.

    An inexpensive way to gain rod space and achieve vertical hanging is as follows – use pop can pull tab or shower curtain rings to attach the coat hangers together in a vertical chain.

    You’ll need to detach the pop can tabs from empty pop cans until you get what you need.  Give them a quick rinse, if needed, because you’ll want them to be clean.  Or hit the Dollar store to pick up the shower curtain rings, either metal or plastic.  Make sure you know how many you’ll need before you go shopping. 

    Simply put the pop can pull tab or shower curtain ring through the hook of the coat hanger and layer the clothes vertical.  This is a great way to keep like with like and allows you to see very clearly what is in your closet while maximizing the space you have available.

    Article submitted by Chapter member, Soo Porter, Professional Organizer and Founder of Your Cluttered Space.com.

  • Sunday, February 05, 2017 4:02 PM | Cindy Greenleaf (Administrator)

    Every time Mom, Dad, and Uncle or Aunt come over, they seem to want to drop off an extra pot or pan. Over the years, you have collected so many pots and pans sets, your cabinet is full of stuff piled on top of stuff.

    Now the question is, what are you going to do with all that stuff? 

    Be sure to sort and purge any pots and pans that do not get used or are duplicates.  Keep only the ones you love, use and that are in great shape.

    Once you've done that, let's get the remaining keepers organized.

    NAPO Michigan would like to share some tips on how to organize the kitchen cabinet that holds your pots and pans.  

    Here are three great tips to help you get your pot and pan cabinet under control.

    1. Separate pans from lids

    Storing lids separately from the pots and pans can provide additional space.

    2.   Insert Storage Bars on Cabinet Door

    If you attach some thin towel bars onto the inside of the cabinet door, you can store your lids there.   Storing lids on the cabinet door can provide more room to place large amounts of pots and pans inside the cabinet.  Make sure your cabinet door is sturdy enough to drill into.  As an alternative, you can also buy lid racks that hang over the door for you non-DIYer’s and renters out there.

    3.   Put Items in a Rack

    Putting a rack or divider into the cabinet can help sort the larger pots or pans from the smaller pots or pans. That way when you go into the cabinet, you can easily view and access the pot or pan you need. 

    Organizing your kitchen cabinet is easier than you think!  For more organizing tips, visit www.NAPOMichigan.com 

    Article submitted by Chapter member L. Patterson, co-owner and Professional Organizer, Simple Places Organizing, LLC

  • Wednesday, December 14, 2016 10:33 AM | Cindy Greenleaf (Administrator)

    Who gets the pictures?      Who tells the Stories?

    Every person has a story to tell.  Every person should have a book to hold that tells how important they are, their history with pictures and stories of their life.

    Have your heard the saying “It’s never urgent until it’s too late?”  We encourage people to take the steps needed to preserve their pictures and tell their stories before it’s too late.

    Our pictures, our story impacts the lives of others; the people who care about us; our children, our family and future generations.  There is a window of opportunity to get this done.  This window is before we get ready to move into a retirement facility; definitely before we start needing assistance from others.

    We assisted two families in creating their family history books; both almost missed that window of opportunity. 

    One person developed Dementia during the process, which led to Alzheimer’s.  She started exhibiting signs of memory loss when we were working to identify the people and to record the stories of her life.

    The other, a gentleman, who lived to see his book completed, died just three weeks later from advanced stage Parkinson’s.

    Getting started means creating a plan to guide you through the process. 

    Start now and allow time. 

    A collection of pictures and stories that spans several generations will take time to assess and curate (organize and digitize). A collection may include both printed and digital photos, photo albums, framed photos, photo books, movies and more.

    Create a Vision and a Plan

    Envision completion.  A Photo Organizer will assist you in all phases of planning and completing a Legacy photo book, a slide show, celebration poster boards, and digital storage systems that will allow you to keep your memories while eliminating the clutter.

    Involve Your Family

    Who wants your photos?  Many families decide to create a photo book with copies for each of their children and grandchildren as a gift to celebrate milestone events – a Wedding Anniversary, retirement or a significant birthday.

    Keep the Memories, Not the Clutter

    A DVD can be created of your BEST photos.  Celebration of life posters, canvas prints, and important photos framed can become your wall art for you to share and for everyone to see.  Photos taken of your collections and significant treasured  possessions can be incorporated.

    Hire a Professional

    A Professional Organizer brings energy, is not overwhelmed, is objective and can assist you in making decisions about each picture, memorabilia and the telling of your story.  Create a budget to complete your project.  If you have a 50 year collection of photos and accompanying items, it will take time consisting of several stages of work for a Photo Organizer to complete your project.

    After giving a presentation at a local retirement facility, a woman approached us saying that she wanted to have a legacy photo book completed of her most important pictures, stories and her family treasures. She was widowed, did not have children to leave her pictures and stories to but wanted to complete it for herself and her family.  We took pictures of her significant family treasures and featured both the pictures and stories in her book.

    Would you like to tell your story and leave your legacy for your children, grandchildren and future generations?  You will not regret getting started today.

    This could be the most important gift that you can give your family.

         “Photos will only keep your memories alive when they have 

    been arranged so that you can enjoy them whenever you like.”   

    Filing Fairies

    Marianne Behler of Lifetime Photo Solutions is a Corporate Associate Member of NAPO Michigan. 

  • Sunday, May 01, 2016 2:40 PM | Cindy Greenleaf (Administrator)

    Do you have excess inventory?  We all have some. When things are piling up and taking too much real estate in your home, why not give a garage sale a try? It can be a great way to clear the clutter and make some cash too!

    The National Association of Professional Organizers in Michigan wants to share some tips on organizing a garage sale:

    1.       Make sure you have enough inventory.  What we mean by that is – have enough stuff that makes it worthwhile to stop at your sale. Many times, people just slowly drive by looking for specific items. Baby accessories, children’s items, sporting goods, home décor, small furniture, collectibles and clothes are all in-demand items. Make sure everything is in good shape, otherwise donate or toss.

    2.      Choose a date. Springtime sales are the most successful. Generally Thursday is the best day followed by Saturday. If you are lucky enough to have a subdivision-wide garage sale, usually you do not need to advertise. Otherwise, put an ad in the paper or post on social media to attract people to your sale. Balloons are a great and inexpensive way to showcase your house.

    3.      Merchandise your items. Set up enough tables so that your customers can see everything. If you are selling clothes, try to keep them hanging on a line or rack or fold nicely like in the stores. It helps to bring larger items out in the driveway and have a good flow between your tables so people can browse.

    4.      Price your items to sell. That’s the main objective here. Remember these are things that are just taking up space and causing you stress!

    5.      Donate anything that doesn’t sell. If you got it out of the house, it certainly shouldn’t go back in.  Either drive to a donation location or call for a pick up from Purple Heart or another charity of your choice.

    Good luck with your sale and pray for good weather!

    Organizing your garage sale is easier than you think! 

    For more organizing tips, check out our Blog at NAPOMichigan.com.

    Article submitted by Chapter member, Susan Carmody, Professional Organizer and Owner of PerfectlyPlaced.net.


  • Monday, March 07, 2016 11:47 AM | Cindy Greenleaf (Administrator)

    Whether organizing printed or digital photos, the first steps we take begins with the basics.

    Developed by Cathi Nelson, founder of the Association of Personal Photo Organizers (APPO), the ABC’S allows you to work with and teach clients a path to start organizing their photos and memorabilia.

    A lifelong photo collection might need to be sorted and resorted several times to be ready for the next step.

    Once people start talking about their pictures and the stories behind them, the organizing becomes almost a bi-product of the process.

    The ABC’S

    One picture at a time, we apply the ABC’S to each picture.

    1.      A - Album

    Does this picture belong in a photo album? - It’s the BEST!  

    It will always be cherished.

         2.  B - Box or Back-up

    Good pictures, let’s organize them, protect them in archival storage boxes.

    Let’s scan them and back them up properly.

         3.  C - Can - Trash can that is

    It’s blurry, it’s a dud, its the upteenth picture of Aunt Mary. Trash it!

          4. S - Story

    It has a story behind it that needs to be told.

    Write a note on a sticky, attach it to the back of the photo to note the story.

    Why do people take pictures?

    “There have been great societies that did not use the wheel but there have been no societies that did not tell stories.”                                                                                                  Ursula Le Guin

    A photo collection might contain a picture like the one I decided to put into my forever photo collection.  It’s an “ A” photo  with a “S” story behind it.

    It’s the picture of my baptism dress, made by my Aunt Dorothy just after I was born from parachute silk my Dad brought home from WWII. I was baptized in it, as were both of my daughters. Kept in a bag in a closet, I washed and ironed it for my first granddaughter's dedication. A set of twins - two more baptisms and triplets were born into our family this year and now the little girls will wear it for their baptisms on Easter, 2016.

    Organizing photos by applying the ABC’S will help you and your clients start your photo organizing project. No one imagines their precious pictures ending up in a mess in boxes or on a hard drive unable to be found.

    Pictures are the first thing we want saved in a flood or a fire and last thing we give time  to curate.

    Take your first step.

    Article submitted by NAPO Michigan Corporate Associate Member Marianne Behler, Certified Photo Organizer, Lifetime Photo Solutions; www.appo.org/member/Lifetime-Photo-Solutions

  • Monday, February 29, 2016 3:06 PM | Cindy Greenleaf (Administrator)

    A big part of staying organized is not keeping things you don’t want.  Unwanted items get in the way of those that are indeed wanted, burying them or taking up storage space.  

    We’ve all experienced the slow accumulation of unwanted items – or, more accurately, the slow transformation of wanted items into unwanted items: the clothes in the back of the closet, the dishes in the basement, the ancient credit card statement. 

    One very effective way to kick them out of your space is to dedicate several hours, or even days, to concentrated purging. 

    But you can also employ some “stealth purging" techniques that take less time and energy.  For instance:

    • Place a disposable bag or box in your closet to collect items that, during the course of everyday life, you realize you no longer need. A full "donate bag" means it's time to take the whole thing to the donation center, and replace the container to start again.
    • When you're retrieving a supply (e.g, Advil, writing paper) and you have two minutes to spare, go through that box or drawer and hunt to collect and dispose of unneeded items. 

    Decluttering little by little keeps the momentum going without burnout, and builds the muscles that make it easier for us to notice clutter and to deal with it.  

    It won’t banish a lot of accumulation quickly, so if you’re dealing with rooms full of possibly unwanted items, it’s best to combine “stealth purging” with occasional dedicated purging sessions.  

    You’ll be on your way to a more streamlined space, and one that will stay that way.

    Article submitted by Chapter Vice-President Molly Boren, CPO® at Simplicity Works Organizing Services.

  • Thursday, January 28, 2016 3:14 PM | Cindy Greenleaf (Administrator)

    Do you have great difficulty or discomfort parting with things?

    Do you struggle on a regular basis to manage your time?

    Have you accumulated mass quantities of items such as documents, miscellaneous papers or possessions beyond apparent necessity or pleasure?

    You could be struggling with chronic disorganization.  The National Association of Professional Organizers in Michigan want to inform you and provide you with the resources to help.

    Chronic disorganization is not a disease or an illness.  Chronic disorganization is a term coined by Judith Kolberg, an expert in ADD and chronic disorganization.  She wrote the book Conquering Chronic Disorganization when she noticed a lack of resources for her clients that had great difficulty maintaining traditional organizing methods.

    How is chronic disorganization defined?   The Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD) defines chronic disorganization using the following three criteria:

    1.      Chronic disorganization is having a past history of disorganization in which self-help efforts to change have failed.

    2.      An undermining of your current quality of life due to disorganization.

    3.      An expectation of future disorganization.

    Chronic disorganization is not to be confused with situational disorganization.   An ICD Fact Sheet titled “Are you Situationally Disorganized?” shares with us that situational disorganization occurs when one finds oneself in clutter or chaos for a short period of time, resulting from an unusual turn of events or changes in your living arrangements such as moving, a death of a loved one, having a baby, or getting divorced. 

    Can you relate to the chronic disorganization criteria listed above or does someone you know come to mind?

    If you, a family member, perhaps a friend or coworker is chronically disorganized, and it is not situational disorganization, first and foremost, be patient!

    Chronic disorganization did not happen overnight.  It is not resolved overnight. It takes time and energy to learn and practice new strategies to cope with being chronically disorganized.

    Chronically disorganized individuals have been described to be highly intelligent, innovative, and creative.

    Dealing with the disorganization however, can be difficult and frustrating. You don’t have to cope with it alone.

    Working with a Professional Organizer and related professionals knowledgeable about chronic disorganization will assist in the progress. Related professionals who can provide support include life coaches, organizing coaches, social workers, therapists, counselors, psychiatrist, or psychologists. 

    Additionally, online programs, articles, and books, home study classes, and on-line or local support groups are available.

    Recovering from chronic disorganization is possible! 

    For a directory of Professional Organizers in your area, or to learn more about chronic disorganization, please visit the following websites:




    Article submitted by Chapter member Mindy Fairbanks, at https://www.linkedin.com/in/mindyfairbanks

  • Thursday, December 17, 2015 7:30 AM | Cindy Greenleaf (Administrator)

    Overwhelmed...Embarrassed…Angry…Alone…Chaos…..Too much clutter around you?  

    As a professional organizer and social worker, I have seen, first-hand, the struggle people have in living with, and letting go of, their possessions.  In cases where a large amount of items are impacting their daily functioning, hoarding disorder may be suspected. Their homes are filled with items they have collected over period of time.  Those items may have little value but can be mixed in with items of value such as, photos, memorabilia, antiques, etc. 

    They may have pathways through their homes that are difficult to move through.  They may not be able to use their bathrooms, bedrooms or kitchen areas.  There may be health and safety concerns (fire danger, lack of egress in emergency situations, etc.)  They may have strained relationships with family and friends due to the hoarding behavior.

    Working in hoarding situations as a Professional Organizer differs from typical chronic disorganization (chronic illness, ADD, etc.) or when situations causing disorganization challenges occur, such as death in the family, birth of a child, divorce, job loss, etc.   In hoarding situations, environmental conditions and safety are the biggest concerns for me and my clients.  Pests, rodents, mold, feces/urine, etc. have to be considered and personal protection equipment (PPE) must be worn in the cases that are extreme.   

    The person who is hoarding doesn’t usually see that there is a problem.  Family, friends, neighbors, emergency responders and code enforcement officials tend to be the ones bringing these cases to light. 

    Providing these clients with support, understanding and resources in hoarding disorder is my primary role as the Professional Organizer.  An assessment of the situation is done in the home with the client and/or family members.

    A Plan of Action is developed. If the situation is more extreme, a team is used to complete the clean-out work.  In less extreme cases, individual professional organizers do the hands-on work. 

    Since there is a lot of attachment to the things in the home, small sections at a time are worked on.  The client is usually working side-by-side with the organizer to make decisions on the items. 

    Items are sorted into categories such as Donate, Keep, Important, Throw away, Recycle, Give to Others and Go to Another Place in Home.  This is considered a rough sort.  The Keep items, etc. are labeled and put into storage such as a garage, off-site storage, or another room in the home.  The Important items are put in a safe location where the client can locate them easily.

    Working with clients who have hoarding disorder can last for many months and even years. Counseling services with a mental health professional is required in conjunction with hands-on work with an organizer. 

    Many times the coordination between the organizer and therapist will help to support the client dealing with the emotions that come to the surface during the process of decluttering.  Slower and steady decluttering and organizing is the preferred method of organizing as opposed to the fast clean outs. 

    Studies have shown the fast clean-outs don’t usually lead to behavior changes but rather the hoarding of the spaces continues.  Intervention with resources such as mental health professionals, Professional Organizers, interested family members and friends can make all the difference in whether success or failure occurs. 

    The key to successful intervention is in the approach taken when discussing the situation.  Being respectful, non-confrontational, non-judgmental, supportive and factual tends to be the most successful.  This can be difficult for family and friends who may have been dealing with the hoarding behavior for years and don’t understand the disorder. 

    Education is key to understanding and dealing with this complicated disorder.

    To learn more about hoarding disorder and the role of professional organizers, visit these websites:

    challengingdisorganization.org (Institute for Challenging Disorganization)

    NAPO.net (National Assoc. of Professional Organizers)

    NAPOMichigan.com (Michigan Chapter of NAPO)

    www.childrenofhoarders.com (Children of Hoarders)

    Article submitted by Chapter Member Susie Marsh, LBSW, Professional Organizer and owner of Susie’s Organization Solutions, LLC.

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