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  • 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

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


  • 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;

  • 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

  • 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: (Institute for Challenging Disorganization) (National Assoc. of Professional Organizers) (Michigan Chapter of NAPO) (Children of Hoarders)

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

  • Monday, December 14, 2015 3:07 PM | Cindy Greenleaf (Administrator)

    There is a shift happening.  A generation ago, bridal registries were filled with china and crystal options, but not these days.  Professional organizers helping people downsize continually hear “Our kids don’t want our stuff.  What do we do with it all?” 

    If you’d prefer to make some money versus donating items to a non-profit, then you need to know how to price and sell it. 

    Sellers usually want as much as they can get for an item, just as buyers want to pay as little as possible.  Ask yourself what it is worth to you.  Do you want $50 or $250 for your china?  For price ideas, visit consignment, pawn and antique shops and look for same or similar items. 

    You should start getting a feel for what the current retail price is…then subtract from that figure.  Subtract because unless you have a very rare or in demand item, chances are slim you will get the retail price.  Subtract because you want to attract dealers, who pay rent and insurance, and buy for profit. will show completed sale prices.  After searching for the type of item you want to sell, on the left side there are many more categories to refine your search.  One of them is entitled SHOW ONLY with boxes below.  Check the “Completed Listings” and “Sold Listings” boxes and search again.  This can also help in pricing as it indicates what items have actually sold for and the amount of bidding activity shows an items popularity. 

    If you feel you have an item of considerable value or have many items, it may be wise to hire an appraiser.  Check with the International Society of Appraisers for a certified appraiser in your area.

    There are a wide variety of ways to sell your item(s).

    If you have lots of items to sell, consider having your own sale.  Ask friends and family to help and give them a percentage, or hire a professional organizer to help you put a sale together. 

    If you have a house full of items, an estate sale company might be a better fit. They will come to the house to evaluate whether there is enough value to merit them doing a sale.  They usually set up, price, advertise, tear down, work the sale and take the balance to donation. 

    Consignment shops are another way to show and sell your items for a commission.  Look for ones that are well-established, advertise and appear to get good traffic.   Larger pieces often require you to get on a waiting list.

    Single items do best on Craigslist, local Facebook garage sale sights, eBay and, another online auction site similar to eBay.   If you are not savvy with these sights, ask around for help or check with an organizer.  Many know how to use technology to move goods.  Be sure to read up on precautions regarding meeting with people through Craigslist or others means.     

    The desire to downsize is growing as the baby boomers age.  The used-goods market will swell as the next generation passes on what their parents have to offer.  So is it really worth holding onto when only great-great-grandchildren may see it return to its’ glory days? 

    Remember, you can’t take it with you. 

    Article submitted by Chapter Member Leigh MacCready, Professional Organizer and owner of Re-Nest, LLC

  • Monday, November 16, 2015 4:00 PM | Cindy Greenleaf (Administrator)

    I recently read the book The Power of Habit (Random House, 2012) by Charles Duhigg. I found this book to be incredibly engaging, well-researched, and the bearer of an inspiring message: any habit can be changed if we understand how it works. I highly recommend this book!

    The Power of Habit is helping me to look at the organizing work that my clients and I do together from a new and compelling perspective. It’s also giving me fresh ideas for how to support clients in making and sustaining the changes (i.e. changing the organizing habits) that they’re committed to.

    There are many excellent summaries and reviews of The Power of Habit on the internet, so I am not going to pen a lengthy review. If you wish to read one of those, I might suggest:

    Charles Duhigg also has a good video on his website which explains habits, and a nice diagram summarizing how to break (change) habits. 

    What follows, then, is a list of my main takeaways from the book. Perhaps something here will catch your interest and lead you to explore the book yourself.

    ·   Habits are directly affected by our neurobiology. As a routine becomes  more familiar – the more and more we perform an action – our brain doesn’t have to work as hard and it gradually learns how to execute the routine ‘automatically’.

    • Habits work because of a feedback loop which was discovered by scientists at MIT. The loop is made up of 3 parts:
    • The CUE (the trigger which tells your brain to go into automatic mode)
    • The ROUTINE (the action you take because your brain tells you to)
    • The REWARD (the positive outcome that happens as a result of the Routine; this is what helps your brain figure out that this loop is worth remembering)
    • With repetition over time, the Cue and the Reward eventually become intertwined and combine to create a powerful sense of ANTICIPATION and CRAVING. It is the Craving which makes a habit so powerful.
      ·       Research shows that if we learn the structure of the habit loop we can come to understand, anticipate, control, and ultimately change the habit.
    • You can never fully extinguish an old habit. You can only change a habit.
    • You change a habit by developing an awareness of the Craving – recognizing it when it’s coming on, recognizing the power it has over you. Once you’re able to recognize the Craving, you then then learn to replace the old Routine with a new Routine. You keep the same Cue and Reward in place, you ‘simply’ insert a new Routine.
    • The change formula described above must be accompanied by a genuine Belief that change is possible. Without belief in one’s potential, failure is almost certain.
    • Mental toughness (willpower) isn’t just a learnable skill, it’s a “muscle” and as you exercise it more and more it gets stronger. It allows you to regulate your impulses and distract yourself away from temptations. Writing down one’s goals is a powerful way to strength willpower.
    • Small wins often fuel transformative changes. Instead of trying to change lots of habits all at once, pick one and master it. Then move on to the next. You will be stronger and more prepared this way for the next change.

    This review represents the opinion of the author and is not the opinion of NAPO or NAPO Michigan.

    Article submitted by Nia Spongberg, Certified Professional Organizer®. Nia is our NAPO Southeast Michigan Director of Communications & Technology and the owner of Spruced Up Spaces, LLC in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

  • Monday, September 07, 2015 1:46 PM | Cindy Greenleaf (Administrator)

    There’s one essential part of staying organized that doesn’t require you to lift a finger.  No sorting through boxes, no printing labels – this step requires only talking. 

    But sometimes it’s the simple things that don’t get done.  When you share a living- or workspace with someone else, it’s essential that you talk about where different categories of items will live in that space.  (And if you live or work alone, this might be a silent, but just as important, exercise – though you should feel free to talk it out aloud too!) 

    If your partner or colleague doesn’t know where you keep the stapler, he or she will be doomed to a staple-less existence…or you will be doomed to always being the one who puts it away and finds it again.  Taking the 60 seconds to talk about which drawer it goes to can save much more time that would otherwise be lost to frustration or clutter-clearing.

    A family brainstorming session about where to store a new glass measuring cup might go like this: The low cabinet with the plastic bowls? Too likely to be grabbed by the toddler. The drawer with the smaller measuring cups? Not enough room. The high cabinet with the hand mixer? We have a deal!

    We at NAPO-SE Michigan think these conversations tend to be skipped because people assume they’re too basic, too easy to warrant the time and attention.  But when you’ve seen as many clutter-filled surfaces as we have as professional organizers, you know: much of that clutter’s root cause is simple ignorance about where to put the items after using them.  And that clutter becomes the root of tension, unhappiness, and lost keys and even cash!

    So it’s worth the investment of your time: your space and well-being are worth it.

    This article was written by Molly Boren, Chapter Vice-President, a  Certified Professional Organizer® and owner of Simplicity Works Organizing Services for the home and office. 


  • Tuesday, September 01, 2015 12:50 PM | Nia Spongberg (Administrator)

    NAPO Southeast Michigan wants to help bring awareness to an upcoming 8-week therapy group for older adults. This support group ~ held at the University of Michigan Turner Senior Resource Center in Ann Arbor ~ is for those who are experiencing depression, anxiety or adjustment issues related to handling clutter. This group is intended to help participants:

    • Understand why we keep things and readiness for change
    • Learn ways to cope with letting go of belongings
    • Practice strategies for decreasing clutter & organizing belongings

    This group will meet Thursday mornings from 10am-Noon from Sept 24 - Nov 12., 2015. Please call Mary Rumman, LMSW, at the University of Michigan Turner Senior Resource Center for more information or to register, (734) 764-2556. 

    You may also wish to download or print this flyer: Clutter Busters Flyer.pdf

  • Friday, August 28, 2015 9:40 AM | Cindy Greenleaf (Administrator)


    These shelving units are a tried-and-true, cost-effective way to take advantage of vertical space and store many different items in a home or business.  As professional organizers, we routinely recommend these shelves to clients for many reasons:

    •     They maximize use of vertical space in a way that few other solutions    can with so little work and cost;

    •     They are very strong and durable;

    •     The shelves are height-adjustable, so they can be positioned at intervals which make sense for the dimensions of the items you’re storing;

    •      The shelves can be stationary or mobile, depending on your situation (locking wheels are often included, if not you can purchase wheels separately)

    •      Some units come with plastic shelf liners so small items won’t fall through the bars (if not included, these liners can often be purchased separately);

    •      The metal bars are trim, which means they don’t impede access to shelf contents, and they let light through which makes it easier to see everything;

    •      They can be put together relatively quickly and easily (around 20 minutes), and require no tools (although having a rubber mallet can be handy);

    •      They are competitively priced (around $90-100) for the value they deliver;

    •      The standard 18 x 48 x 72 unit can be purchased locally at stores like Costco or Sam’s Club or Lowe’s, so it’s easy to pick one up on short notice;

    •       They are available in any number of dimensions from stores like Target and companies like ULINE and Global Industrial, allowing them to fit in almost any space or hold items of unusual sizes.

    Building these shelves requires a bit of physical strength and dexterity. It’s usually easiest for two people to build the unit together. After you’ve built one, you get the hang of it and you become quicker at building subsequent shelves. One final word of advice: when you get back from the store, rather than hauling the heavy box into your home or office and then unpacking the pieces, we recommend opening the box right in your vehicle and carrying the individual pieces inside to the location where you will be building and using the shelf; it’s much easier on your back this way.


    This Product Review was submitted by Chapter Director of Communication and Technology, Nia Spongberg, who is a Certified Professional Organizer® and owner at Spruced Up Spaces, LLC.


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