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  • 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 | Anonymous

    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.


  • Thursday, May 28, 2015 6:58 AM | Anonymous
    Sports Equipment can become a frustrating, jumbled mess if you don’t have a good strategy and system for keeping it organized. This can translate into big headaches when you’re scrambling to get the kids out the door to soccer practice or rushing to make your tee time. What follows are four key considerations and associated suggestions for helping keep all your gear and accessories in order so you can enjoy your athletic pursuits to the fullest.

    (1)   Pick A Zone

    Begin by identifying and designating one zone – such as a corner of your garage, or a closet in your entryway – that will serve as the storage area for all of your sports equipment. Ideally this zone will be easily accessible in order to facilitate easy-come, easy-go use.

    (2)   Sort Into Categories

    Next, walk around your entire home and gather up every single piece of sports equipment you own. Bring all of it to your new storage zone. Now, sort the items into the following six categories. As you sort, be sure to get rid of any equipment which is damaged or unsafe to use, or which is no longer relevant (your kids have outgrown it, you no longer play that sport, etc): 

    1.      Long Things:  bats, sticks, clubs, racquets, skis, sleds, fishing poles, etc.

    2.      Things That Go:  balls, pucks, birdies, darts, kites, etc.

    3.      Protective Gear:  baseball mitts, goggles, helmets, pads, mouth guards, etc.

    4.      Clothing: uniforms, hats, etc.

    5.      Footwear: cleats, rollerblades, skates, ski boots, etc.

    6.      Accessories:  bike pumps, water bottles, fishing tackle, golf cart batteries, scuba tanks, etc.

    (3)   Add Structure

    Now, take a close look at what you’re keeping. Take time to thoughtfully envision how much space each category will require in your storage zone, and how the categories might be optimally arranged within the space. Also consider the specific type of storage (within in a bin or basket? resting on a shelf? hanging on the wall?) that’s best suited for each category. If you don’t already have appropriate  storage structures in place, now is the time to obtain and install them. Below are some storage systems I like, as well as specific strategies for each category.

    Storage Systems We Like for Sports Equipment

    1.   Chrome shelving unit with pull-out bins, from Frontgate:

    Chrome-finished Sports Shelving with Pull-out Bins

    2.   Free-standing 4-bike rack:

         3.  Elfa products for sports gear, from The Container Store:


    Specific Storage Strategies for Each Category

    Long Things: Store upright in an empty garbage can or other stable barrel/bin/container; hang them from hooks on a wall/pegboard; lay them flat on a shelf; lay them flat in a saddle/cradle suspended from the ceiling.

    Things That Go: Store in a see-through wire basket of appropriate size (make sure the balls aren’t smaller than the mesh openings of the basket) or in open-front, stacking crates/cubbies. For  larger balls like soccer, basketball, and footballs, mount on the wall in a Ball Claw -

    Protective Gear: Store in clear, plastic, latch-top totes (to help keep dust at bay), or in bins/baskets on shelves.

    Clothing: Store in clear, plastic, latch-top totes (to help keep dust at bay), or in bins/baskets on shelves.

    Footwear: Store directly on shelves, or in open-front, stacking crates/cubbies. 

    Accessories: Because accessories are so numerous and varied, it’s not possible to provide a generalized storage recommendation. Instead, let the physical attributes of each item (size, shape, weight, etc) serve as clues to help you find the best storage solution.

    (4)   Be A Good Steward

    Things don’t stay organized on their own or simply because you have good storage structure; people keep things organized. So you will need to devote a bit of time and energy to tidying up your sports equipment zone on some regular basis. We suggest doing it four times a year with the changing of each season and corresponding change of sports. We also suggest an annual “deep-clean” where you review all your equipment, purge items that are no longer relevant, give the space a thorough cleaning, and re-organize things that have gotten out of order.


    Keeping your sports equipment organized involves many of the same organizing principles that apply elsewhere in your home or office.  

    ·        First, assign a home to every item;

    ·        Store like items together;  

    ·        Keep things off the floor by making optimal use of vertical (wall) space;

    ·        Make sure everyone who uses the space knows where and how things are stored (labeling can really help facilitate this); and

    ·        Use clear/see-through containers that make it easy to see items and return them to their homes.

    For further inspiration, you may wish to do a web search or a search within Pinterest with keywords such as “sports equipment storage”.

    Written by NAPO Michigan Chapter member Nia Spongberg of Spruced Up Spaces, LLC.

  • Friday, April 10, 2015 10:00 AM | Anonymous

    Michigan Organizers Help Lift Spirits

    Press Release March 31, 2015

    Members of the Southeast Michigan Chapter of National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO-MI) regularly give back to their community by volunteering to organize the spaces of a local non-profit organization. On April 10, 2015, NAPO-MI members will participate in a project to support Kadima, a Southfield-based nonprofit that serves individuals in Oakland County who have chronic and persistent mental illness.

    The Kadima staff does a tremendous job serving their community, which leaves them very little time to optimize their working environment. NAPO-MI members will help to organize Kadima’s Lois and Milton Y. Zussman Activity Center that provides daily activities such as psycho-educational classes, art lessons, craft projects, tutoring, outings, volunteer service projects, music, and more. The Center offers Kadima clients needed opportunities for social, recreational and peer interactions.

    On April 10th, members of NAPO-MI will step up to help organize their space by decluttering and optimizing storage of arts and crafts supplies, games and exercise equipment, closets and common areas, laundry and kitchen supplies, and staff offices. Kadima is purchasing organizing equipment at cost and members of NAPO-MI are donating their services and supplies for the event, which will take place from 10:00 am until 2:00 pm at Kadima’s Lois and Milton Y. Zussman Activity Center, 15999 West Twelve Mile Road, Southfield MI 48076.

    The National Association of Professional Organizers was established in 1985 and now boasts over 4,000 members in the U.S. and 23 other countries. The Southeast Michigan chapter,, came into being in 2003, and currently has 35 professional organizers and 6 associate members in related industries.

    Kadima is a non-profit social service agency that provides services to individuals diagnosed with chronic and persistent mental illness and support for their families. Services include outpatient therapy, case management, residential options, transportation and social activities. Kadima is committed to provide community education and advocacy to enhance the quality of life for individuals and their families affected by psychiatric disabilities and to reduce the stigma so often associated with mental illness. Learn more at

    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    NOTE: This volunteer work day is open to NAPO Southeast Michigan Chapter Members only; no visitors, please.  Members: if you would like to volunteer at Kadima and have not already signed up, please contact:

  • Sunday, March 22, 2015 3:00 PM | Anonymous

    Do you look up at the clock in the morning and realize that, yes, your family is behind schedule, again?

    Do you have a hard time remembering to stop to eat lunch, leave for the day, or floss your teeth? Consider enlisting your smartphone for help! Set thematic songs as alarm ringtones for critical or forgettable parts of your routines.

    Songs catch our attention more than clocks or even timers, and are easily recognized by kids too young to read a clock. Start by picking one or two trouble spots. These might be transitions, like waking or leaving for school, or good habits you want to cultivate, like consistently eating lunch or cleaning your desk before stopping for the day.

    This playlist can get you started:

     Add more songs as necessary to support your family’s daily routine. With small kids, songs every 5-10 minutes throughout morning routine and bedtime routine makes it easier to be firm and consistent, improves everyone’s ability to estimate time, and replaces nagging with dancing!

    It might take some experimenting to find out which times work best for each step, and which steps need to be added. Ask the kids which songs would keep them on track, and what they want a reminder about! Challenge the kids to “beat the pajama song.”

    Every few months, delete any alarms that you regularly ignore, adjust the times of others if needed, and add new songs to keep things fresh and relevant.

    And be sure to listen to Kate Carpenter’s song “Orderly and Organized.” If professional organizers had a theme song, this might be it!  The link is:

    ~ ~ ~

    This article was written and contributed by NAPO Southeast Michigan chapter member Melanie Sobocinski of Prof Organizer LLC.

  • Sunday, March 22, 2015 2:00 PM | Anonymous

    Members of the Southeast Michigan Chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers will give back to their community by volunteering to organize the offices and storage areas of a local non-profit organization, Habitat for Humanity Detroit.

    Habitat for Humanity Detroit helps build affordable homes for working families and eliminates poverty housing.  The Habitat staff does a tremendous job serving their community which leaves them very little time to organize their working environment.

    On April 1st, 2014, there will be No Fooling Around” as members of NAPO Southeast Michigan will step up to organize their space by decluttering work areas including desktops, desk drawers, and file cabinets.  Storage areas for several areas will also be revamped, if time permits.  Members of NAPO Southeast Michigan are donating their services and supplies for the event which will take place from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Habitat Offices located at 14325 Jane Street in Detroit.

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