NAPO-WDC Blog

  • May 31, 2020 4:41 PM | Carolyn Thompson (Administrator)

    Jill Katz, One To Zen

    May 31, 2020

    In this new COVID-19 climate, we have all had to adapt. One way that I have adapted, along with many of my fellow professional organizers, is to shift my sessions from hands-on, in-person organizing to virtual organizing. And anytime we do something different, we learn something new.

    Virtual Organizing

    Virtual organizing is organizing from a remote location. I am in my home while you, the client, are in your home. The biggest challenge with virtual organizing is that I am not able to physically help. My body is ready to spring into action, by moving, sorting, and organizing. Yet because we are virtual I am forced to slow down, listen more, and use words to encourage you and direct you through the organizing process.

    The Four Organizing Needs

    The slower pace of virtual organizing has allowed me to identify 4 different needs people have that must be addressed (by themselves or by their organizer) in order to reach their goals: Organizing Techniques, Strategy & Planning, Coaching, and Accountability. Most people have a blend of these needs and don't fit into any one category.




    I. Organizing Techniques: Sort, Divide, and Conquer




    I. Organizing Techniques: Sort, Divide, and Conquer 

    The Need: An organizer that will provide you with techniques and tips while guiding you through the organizing process.  


    You need organizing techniques if you:

    • Aren’t sure how to get started

    • Have tried to declutter or organize before but keep getting stuck

    • Would like someone to walk you through each step of organizing so you can understand the process

    The Example: My experience with Stephanie Frumkin from Silver Spring, MD is a great illustration of the need for organizing techniques. Stephanie wanted to get her kitchen in order and wasn’t sure where or how to begin. After a brief discussion, we decided to start with her utensils. I then guided Stephanie through the process of removing all her utensils, sorting and categorizing them. When Stephanie seemed confused, I would give her a tip or ask her a question. Stephanie explained how this process felt to her: “When I got stuck, [Jill] calmly guided me and never made me feel embarrassed or pressured in any aspect of the process.” About 15 minutes into the session, Stephanie declared, “Oh, I get it now!” The next day, Stephanie sent me a quick note about our session: “It is inspiring me to create more of a system in terms of what I do.”

    II. Strategy & Planning: Who, What, When, & Why

    Give me a roadmap!

    The Need: An organizer that can provide you







    The Need: An organizer that can provide you with a framework. With this framework you might even be able to organize on your own.

    You need strategy if you:

    • Don’t have systems in place for many routines such as mail, laundry, donations

    • Try to clean up a room but don’t have “homes” for many of the items

    • Need a road-map to transform the function of a particular space

    The Example: Amy Stolls of Washington, DC was frustrated by her clutter. We had been working on various rooms in her house since the spring of 2019 and making steady progress. But with current events, I couldn’t be present with her in her home. This had happened once before when Amy was busy with work. She couldn’t find 4 consecutive hours to schedule an in-person session so we filled in the 2-month gap by scheduling virtual 1-hour sessions. During those sessions, Amy discussed what was bothering her and I organized her thoughts and created a list of items for her to work on until our next virtual session along with tips where appropriate. When we met again, Amy would update me on any developments and I would create a new “to do” list. This month, Amy is stoked because she needs some organizing in her vacation cabin. It doesn't matter that the cabin is far away since we will be continuing to organize virtually.


    III. Coaching: Bringing Out the Best In You

    The Need: An organizer that can support you










    The Need: An organizer that can support you in making your own decisions and give you the confidence to know you can achieve success.

    You need coaching if you:

    • Feel overwhelmed or anxious at the thought of organizing

    • Recently experienced a life change or transition (divorce, new baby, pandemic)

    • Are comforted by the idea of having someone alongside you while organizing

    The Example: Wanda Seays from King George, VA needed help with her home office. She told me that every time she walked into her home office she was overwhelmed with anxiety. This anxiety was so strong that she couldn’t even begin to make a dent in her paper clutter. We spent an hour clearing Wanda’s desk with the help of her sister. Because I wasn’t in Wanda’s home, she was in control of her space. I only saw the papers that Wanda wanted me to see. Wanda described this process: “The biggest difference for me between virtual organizing and in-person organizing was that I felt less anxious being video coached.” When Wanda needed to make a decision, I would support her with clarifying questions and assure her that there was no wrong answer and that she was doing great. Wanda told me: “I can still hear your voice when the clutter tries to ease back into my office space. Thanks for your patience and compassion.” In this case, the coaching support during our virtual organizing session helped her conquer her clutter even after our Zoom session concluded.

    IV. Accountability: Sustaining Momentum

    "The only way we succeed as a group is not simply following directions, but in keeping each other accountable for our actions."

    ― A.J. Darkholme

    The Need: An organizer that can track your progress from week to week so you don’t backslide.

    You need Accountability if you:

    • Want someone to track your progress

    • Work well with deadlines and a clear goal

    • Know that having someone present during organizing will ensure that you actually organize

    The Example: Every single person needs accountability in order to progress on their organizing journeyit is the most important need. When I work alongside you, my presence ensures that you will sort through those annoying papers. You are not able to say that you will sort through that box and then go take a nap. I can see you! And after that hour of organizing, you have a few homework assignments to complete. On your own, they might get done - who knows? However, if you know that you are meeting with me in a week or two, then you are far more likely to tackle that homework list.

    Virtual Organizing & The Four Needs

    So, there you have itthe 4 organizing needs. And you don't need an organizer to be physically present in order to address those needs. Virtual organizing through Zoom can be even more effective for clients that have anxiety, need a more affordable solution, have small blocks of time, or would like to work at a slower pace.

    What is your organizing need? Let me know…

    Interested in virtual organizing? Set up a free 20-minute call with me or schedule a session.

  • May 31, 2020 4:26 PM | Carolyn Thompson (Administrator)

    Cynthia Fischer, Ph.D.  https://cocozzaorgdesign.com

    Authors: Missy Crawford, Dr. Cynthia Fischer and Heather Cocozza, PMP, CPO

    May 31, 2020


    The other night my husband innocently said to me, “You know, if this lock-down really goes on into next school year, we’re going to have to get more serious about homeschooling.”  I don’t remember if I said anything right away, but I do remember a twitchy sensation in my left eyelid and a feeling that my head might actually explode in that moment. 

    Reading the news on your phone for too long causes stress, fear, and anxiety.  You can’t watch the news on your TV because you don’t want your kid to start feeling that same anxiety.  Emails from your child’s school about distance learning are long and overwhelming.  And every time you open your Facebook or Instagram feed, you see someone who has perfected the art of looking perfect as they laugh and do an educational project with their kid, in their perfectly clean and organized home.  And, of course, they’re remembering to eat healthy and exercise all the while.  Or maybe it’s the posts by your childless friends that get to you.  The ones where they’re complaining about the luxury of having so much time that they don’t know what to do with it (a luxury you haven’t known for many years).  It’s enough to make anyone more than a little on edge.

    Working parents have always had a full plate in front of them.  With no clear end to the COVID-19 pandemic in sight, now it’s more like a heaping mountain covering a whole table and, yeah, maybe there used to be a plate under there somewhere but that seems sort of beside the point at this stage.   But this doesn’t mean that there’s no hope.  These times are unprecedented, but in an odd sort of way, I feel like I’ve been here before.  In a funny sort of way, the feelings I’ve had during this lockdown period bear a lot of similarities to the period of time when we brought a newborn baby home several years ago.  Everything was different.  My old ways of doing things and my clever workarounds didn’t work anymore.  As a family, we had to learn new ways of doing things.  And we sometimes had to rely on each other more than we were used to, rather than just barreling through and doing everything individually.  We learned each other’s strengths and weaknesses, capitalizing on the strengths and allowing those to fill the gaps where the weaknesses were.  God knows it wasn’t easy.  The good news?  We survived those times and came out on the other side.  Hell, some of us parents did more than survive, we thrived.  Crazily enough, we went back for more and did it a few more times!

    I’m not saying that anybody wants this pandemic to go on even one second longer than it has to, of course.  But I want to remind parents that they’ve been in tough spots before—every parent has.  Remember how that felt, and tap into that version of yourself that got through the hard days and nights.  Remember all those wise friends and relatives who said, “No one knows your baby better than you do,” and “As a parent you’ll make mistakes, but you can always course-correct.”  These are the adages to keep close to your heart now. 

    Remember this when you’re stressed about homeschooling because you’ve had no training whatsoever as a teacher.  Remember this when you and your spouse both have urgent work projects that are overdue and you child just isn’t in the mood to sit quietly and play with toys or watch a movie.  And most of all, remember those things that people told you when you were a new parent.  Things like “What works for one family will not necessarily work for another,” and “Every kid is different.”  In a way, we’re all new parents again, finding our way, learning new ways of living all over again.  Yes, it’s daunting, but we’ve been through this before.

    Bearing all this in mind, here are some tips and strategies for dealing with the present crisis.  Everyone’s circumstances are unique, so find what’s useful and ignore the rest.  Only you know what is right for you and your family.

    1. Chose what works best in your home: a routine or a schedule.  In COVID-19 either can work.  As much we may hate to admit it, just about everybody needs to have some kind of routine or schedule to their daily lives.  Otherwise it’s just complete chaos (life with kids leans toward the chaotic on a good day anyway). 

    Sample Routine for those who value flexibility:

    Morning:

    Wake up time (varies)

    Get dressed sometime before lunch, when convenient

    2-3 hours school time sometime before lunch (broken into shorter chunks if needed)

    1-2 hours screen-time before lunch

    1-2 hours exercise/outdoor time as needed

    1-2 snacks as needed

    Midday (roughly between 11am and 1pm):

    Lunch time (depends when hungry) and non-screen free time

    Afternoon:

    1-2 hours chore time

    1-2 hours exercise/outdoor time as needed

    1-2 hours screen time/free time

    1-2 snacks as needed

    Evening (roughly between 4:00pm-7:30pm):

    Dinner time (includes helping w/prep and cleanup)

    1-2 hours screen time/free time/non-screen time

    Roughly 1 hour bed time routine (bath or wash-up, and books)

    Lights out approximately 7:30pm

    Sample Schedule for those who thrive on strict timelines:

    7:00am-8:30am wake-up time, breakfast time, screen time, get dressed

    8:30am-10:00 school time part 1

    10:00am-10:30am snack time and mini outdoor/exercise time

    10:30am-11:45am school time part 2

    11:45-1:00pm lunch time and non-screen free time

    1:00pm-2:15pm screen time/free time

    2:15pm-3:00pm chore time

    3:00pm-3:15pm snack time

    3:15pm-4:30pm outdoor/exercise time

    4:30pm-6:30pm dinner time (includes helping w/prep and cleanup) and screen time/free time

    6:30pm-7:30pm bed time routine (bath or wash-up, and books) and lights out at 7:30pm

    *Remember that parents need to adjust their expectations when it comes to screen time during COVID-19.  Experts suggest offsetting the increase in screen time with increases in “healthy” activities to keep things in balance for kids.  

    2.  Split the day.  Both you and your spouse need to work for several hours undisturbed?  Give each other that time.  While one works (in a locked room if necessary!) the other surrenders to the kids and the mess (or whatever is going on that day).  Kids generally get up early but go to bed relatively early too.  So, plan your day around your child’s waking hours.  Say your child gets up at 6am and falls asleep at 8pm.  That’s 14 hours, or 6.5 hours uninterrupted per parent.  Adjust the split as needed, prioritizing the most urgent work for you and your spouse.

    3.  Toss out or delegate the homeschooling tasks that fill you with dread.  I’m talking about the ones you feel you are “supposed” to do or that you “should be” doing.  Have a friend or relative who is good with numbers?  Set up a zoom meeting where your child can get some facetime with someone other than their immediate family.  Keep it fun and light.  Sometimes our best learning experiences (with or without a pandemic) happen outside the classroom, with a special person we don’t get to see every day.

    4. Create a chart with some flexible options for your child to use for homeschooling like the sample below.  They can fit in other activities like screen-time, exercise, or chores between their school items.  Checking items off themselves each day and deciding what to do when will empower them and make them more proactive.  Make each day a different color as a way of distinguishing one from the next.  Lastly, place the chart inside a plastic sheet protector, so you can check off with a dry erase marker and wipe it clean at the end of each week for re-use.

    Sample School Check-in Chart                                     Dates:_____________________

                                            M                      Tu                    W                     Th                     F

    Reading Lesson/ Activity

    Writing Lesson/ Activity

    Math Workbook/

    Activity sheets

    Typing 20 Min

    Flash Cards

    15 Min

    Spelling

    20 Min

    Handwriting book

    15 min

    Reading 25 min

    Neil Armstrong

    5.  Take the time to mark the weekend as different and break the routine.  Weekends may seem meaningless now that most of us are home full-time, but it doesn’t have to be that way.  Have a movie marathon, wear pajamas all day, eat lots of junk food, have a sleepover in the living room, swap bedrooms for a weekend, whatever you can think of to break the monotony.  Kids get a kick out of seeing a different side of their parents, you know, the “fun you” that existed before you had children.

    Randy Kulman, Ph.D., “5 Tips to Manage Screen Time During Quarantine,” Psychology Today, April 15, 2020: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/screen-play/202004/5-tips-manage-screen-time-during-quarantine.

    Cynthia Fischer, Ph.D.  https://cocozzaorgdesign.com

    703-253-9447
  • May 05, 2020 5:43 PM | Carolyn Thompson (Administrator)

    We are pleased to announce the 2020 Chapter Awardees!

    Organizer of the Year

    For the chapter member who best promoted the organizing industry or chapter and made a difference in the community.

    Janet Schiesl, Basic Organization

     

    Business Partner of the Year

    Kevin Wheeler, 123Junk

     

    Volunteer of the Year
    For the chapter member whose volunteer work had the most impact on the chapter.

    Diane Greenhalgh, Homelife Decluttered


  • May 05, 2020 5:33 PM | Carolyn Thompson (Administrator)

    Jill Katz, One To Zen Organizing

    May 5, 2020

    “What is your mantra?” I ask my new client.

    Let me back up a minute.

    Mantras: An Important Organizing Tool

    Namaste

    As a mindful organizer, I recognize that I am meeting my clients for the first time when they are anxious. Many of my clients are overwhelmed by clutter and are going through some sort of life transition (new baby, new job, divorce, a death). In addition, I am a stranger coming into their home, their space. So when we first sit down to talk before we officially “begin” our session, I like to offer a breathing exercise to center them in preparation for our time together.

    Mantras Are Personal

    Before we take a relaxed seat and begin our breathing, I ask my client, “What is your mantra? What will ground you in times of stress and overwhelm.” And they tell me:


    “I am going to take it one step at a time”

    “I will get through this”

    “I am doing the best that I can”

    “Omna’ma Shiva’ya” (“I bow to the inner self”)

    “I am bigger than this moment”

    “This is just a season”



    Rachel Henry, my wise yoga instructor at Blue Heron Wellness, shares her take on mantras.


    "I believe one of the best ways we can focus our mind and calm our overall state of being is by noticing our breath and it’s unique rhythm...If we add a mantra to the natural, repetitive rhythm of our breath, the experience can be liberating, empowering and soothing."

    My Mantra History

    As a child, I went through a period when I would faint any time a doctor drew blood or gave me a shot. I became very anxious that I would faint on a daily basis. I would get up too quickly, feel a little dizzy, and have a panic attack thinking “Oh no, I’m going to pass out.”

    My Mother taught me to breathe and recite a mantra to calm myself down. I would make a fist and say “I am strong” and the word would translate into a reality. I am strong. I will not faint.


    I Am Strong!

    A New Session

    Fast forward to today. I ask my client to come up with a mantra, or a word or phrase to use when they get anxious.

    Then I sit with my client and we practice visualization and breathing for a few minutes as my client recites a mantra to him or herself. We open our eyes, look at one another with a sense of recognition and I say, “OK, now let’s begin…”

    What Is Your Mantra?

    Do you have a phrase or word that you utter in times of stress? I would love to hear your mantra and your mantra experiences.

    For more information about Jill Katz and One To Zen:

    Jill Katz, One To Zen Organizing

  • April 27, 2020 6:12 PM | Carolyn Thompson (Administrator)

    Janet SchieslBasic Organization

    April 20, 2020

    We all need to find ways to work smarter these days. So much going on. The need to do more with less time. Being connected 24/7. We are all there. You can find so many Tips and Tools to help you work smarter, and not harder.

    Here are a 10 tips on how to work smarter:

    1. Try a reality check -- Track everything you do in detail for 2 or 3 days. Journal tasks in 15 minute increments. You will get a reality check on how you really spend your time.
    2. Assess your tracking -- Now that you’ve done the journaling, what trends show up? Where are you wasting time? What’s your most productive time of day?
    3. Drop the drains -- Your time drains offer you the least pay-off of your time. How can you change, lessen or completely drop these?
    4. Stop multitasking -- Trying to do two things at once actually slows productivity and drives up your stress level. Focus on one thing at a time.
    5. Batch your tasks -- Opposite of multitasking is batching. Stop switching from one type of task to another. Instead focus on doing one kind of thing at a time.
    6. Streamline repetitive tasks -- You can use templates or apps to automate your regular tasks to save time.
    7. Filter emails -- Don’t waste time on unproductive emails by filtering them to skip your inbox and automatically land in another folder.
    8. Find your productive time -- Focus on the important stuff at your most productive time of day to get more done.
    9. Work with a timer -- You’d be surprised at how well this works. Set a timer for 20 minutes, then assign yourself a task to complete in that amount of time.
    10. Outsource -- Delegate the tasks you don’t enjoy, are bad at or would be cheaper for someone else to do. You won’t have it nagging you any more.

    See more from:

    Janet SchieslBasic Organization

  • April 13, 2020 2:55 PM | Diane Greenhalgh (Administrator)

    Maria White headshotAt the 2019 NAPO conference, NAPO-WDC member Maria White of Enuff with the Stuff was awarded with the Service to NAPO Award. Maria is also a chapter volunteer, serving as an Ask the Expert Table volunteer, Golden Greeter of new people at meetings, and a mentor.

    Read the interview with Maria

    Congrats, Maria, and thank you for all you do! 

  • March 24, 2020 2:08 AM | Carolyn Thompson (Administrator)

    Carolyn Thompson, Real Estate Search and Sale, LLC

    March 24, 2020


    Before individuals from around the world were taking the safety measures to stay at home, they were already desirous of a more organized lifestyle. Now they have the opportunity to implement like never before.

    It’s not surprising that three of the top 20 most borrowed adult nonfiction books in Montgomery County, Maryland pertained to organization.

    # 7“The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” by Marie Kondo (2014)

    #12  “Outer Order, Inner Calm: Declutter & Organize to Make More Room for Happiness” by Gretchen Rubin (2019)

    #14 “Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo (2016)

    Residents in the DC Metro area value organization and productivity.  As there are more conversations about organizations, there is a heightened awareness of organizations such as NAPO-WDC with plethora of professional organizers and productivity experts  to help the community with a myriad of needs.

    • Author/Writer
    • Business Offices
    •  Closets
    • Coaching
    • Collections & Inventories
    • Eco-Organizing
    • Electronic Documents & Filing
    • Event/Meeting Planning
    • Feng Shui
    • Financial/Bookkeeping/Bill Paying
    • Garage & Estate Sales
    • Home Offices
    • Kitchens
    • Living Spaces
    • Moving/Relocation
    • Paper Management
    • Photos & Memorabilia
    • Public Speaking
    • Space Planning
    • Storage Spaces (garage, attic, warehouse)
    • Time Management
    • Virtual Organizing


  • March 24, 2020 12:38 AM | Carolyn Thompson (Administrator)

    Anna Novak, Home Transition Pros

    March 24, 2020


    As the country grapples with a flu pandemic, we want to do everything we can to help protect families, particularly our seniors.

    Fortunately, coronaviruses are one of the easiest types of viruses to kill. While hand sanitizers and disinfecting wipes have disappeared from store shelves, you probably already have one of these products that have been approved by the EPA to use against the dreaded SARS-Co_V2.

    View the List of EPA-Approved Disinfectants to Use Against Coronavirus

    Stay Well,

    The Team at HomeTransitionPros.com

  • March 09, 2020 10:59 AM | Diane Greenhalgh (Administrator)

    Another Redfin article about space saving tips for small houses with a tip from one of our chapter members, Heather Cocozza. Check it out.

    March 9, 2020

    When you have a smaller home, every inch of space counts! If you’re feeling cramped in your tight quarters, don’t worry, making a small space more livable can be easy. To help you get started, we asked organizational experts for their best tips and tricks for maximizing space in a small area. Check them out and you’ll feel like you’re living large in no time.

    1. Start by purging your items. Set up three boxes and label them “keep” “donate” and “trash.” Set a timer for two hours and start categorizing the items within the three boxes. Don’t step away to put an item in the room or area that it belongs, just place it in the keep pile for now. If you come across things that spark a trip down memory lane, set it aside for now in the “Keep” category. Plan a “Memory Night”, order some food in, and take that trip with family and friends! – Organizing by Ali, Alison Monaghan

    2. Store less frequently used kitchen items elsewhere. In the kitchen, look for small appliances, big cookware, extra canned foods, and extra paper products that are not used regularly and move to another storage area in your home. This frees up space and allows for a less cluttered feel. – Cleared Spaces, Amy Van Arsdale

    3. Accommodate the storage spaces you’re working with, versus attempting to accommodate your belongings. So many of us feel we don’t have ample storage, however, we may just need to pair down our belongings in an effort to truly work towards a simplified space in a smaller home. – Organized for Life, Lauren Silveira

    4. Incorporate storage within your decor. For example instead of having shelving staged with only home decor and books, mix in beautiful bins to house other items. Think of electronic accessories, envelopes or office accessories, and even toys. – Freshly Organized, Melanie Schmidt

    Tall bookshelves or cabinets can also store clothes, crafts, and toiletries. – Arranged by Erin, Erin Kelly

    5. Use over-the-door organizers. The back of a door can be a wonderful storage place.

    • Buy an inexpensive clear hanging shoe organizer, place it over your door and use it to store items such as scarves, socks, cleaning supplies, cosmetics, travel toiletries or hair products. You can even use them for shoes! – Aim 4 Order, Cindy Bernstein
    • In the absence of a linen closet, utilize over the door organizers for fun and functional linen storage. – Let Your Space Bloom, Amy Bloomer

    6. Remove doors from closets. If you have bedroom closets with bi-fold doors and you need more space, remove the doors. They pop out easily. Once they’re gone, the space will feel larger, and you can put up a curtain instead if you like. The closet can become an office, too, with a desk, computer, and other office accessories. – DETAILS Organizing It All, DeeDee Welles

    7. Have a paper filing system. Every household needs one. Every piece of paper worth keeping should have a permanent home where you will know to look for it. There are things that will have to be kept and those need to be filed. Most likely, those files will have to be created as you go. – My Space Reclaimed, Maristella Bertram

    8. Utilize vertical wall space. New York City apartment dwellers are always looking to maximize their tight spaces. Make use of vertical spaces with shelving, hooks, or other mounting options.  Backs of doors are hidden gems, as can be tight spaces to the side of fridges, washer/dryers, etc.  Using wall space can be a great way to blend the functional with the visual-hooks for a decorative hat display or floating shelves with color-coded books are great ways to add personalized decor while also adding storage. – Embrace Your Space NYC, Sarah Grace

    9. Clear the medicine cabinets. Medicine cabinets are often home to mostly expired medicine, lotions, and all manner of potions.  Find inexpensive drawer organizers at Target, Bed Bath and Beyond, or The Container Store. Keep first-aid stuff close at hand. Use baggies to gather hair clips, razors, nail supplies, etc. – A Clear Path, Dr. Regina F. Lark

    10. File fold. Things tend to get lost in deep shelves that hold clothing. To solve this problem, plastic boot boxes from The Container Store allow one to “file fold” so clothing isn’t stacked. File folding allows you to see what you have and eliminates the clothing from falling all over if it was in a pile. – Lisa The Organizer, Lisa Haubenstock

    11. Remember that less is more. We can all cut down on the number of products we buy. If your space is overwhelmed with products, that clutter can make an already small space feel tiny. – Clutterless Home Solutions, Lahni Carney

    12. Turn cleaning into a game for the kids. To de-clutter the playroom and instill de-cluttering habits in your kids, make cleaning fun by turning cleaning into a game! Use clear packing cubes as a smart storage solution for toys and other knick-knacks. Categorize each packing cube and ask them to match the toys to the corresponding packing cube. – EzPacking

    13. Save space in your laundry room. Use open shelving or a hanging rack system placed on the back of a door. Both are good options to keep washing supplies organized and easily available. Zone the shelf space and use containers to keep categories together. – Everyday Organizing, Nancy Patsios

    14. Use clear or mesh wall pockets for mail. These are a must for organizing mail when you don’t want papers piling up on your kitchen counter or dining room table. Designate one wall pocket for magazines/catalogs, one for bills to pay, and the third one for all other types of mail. Be sure to label your wall pockets and go through them once a week to keep the papers from piling up. – reSPACEd, MaryJo Monroe

    15. Find storage solutions for “dead” space. These are places where furniture or full-size wall shelves won’t fit. Some examples of dead space are:

    • The wall underneath stairs  – Perfect for hooks to store coats, keys, hats & bags, a dry-erase board/bulletin board/family calendar, or wall pockets to store mail.
    • The inside of kitchen or bathroom cabinet doors – Ideal for 3M Command hooks or magnetic hooks or cups to store small items like pot-holders, dish towels, Tupperware lids, scissors, make-up, or toothbrushes. – Cluttershrink

    16. Be careful when using vacuum-sealed bags. Never use vacuum-sealed bags for delicate textiles like cotton, suede, silk, leather, etc. Only use them for durable fabrics such as denim or ski gear. Natural fabrics need to breathe or else the fabric will be irreversibly damaged. Don’t ruin your clothes in order to save space using a vacuum-sealed storage bag. – Garde Robe, Doug Greenberg

    17. Give your items a consistent home. If you notice piles of clutter, it is likely that you have never designated a particular spot for them. Every item needs one consistent home, so when you are done using it, you know where to put it and when you need it again, you know where to find it. – Cocozza Organizing + Design, Heather Cocozza

    18. Invest in storage containers like baskets and bins to organize valuable square footage. Whether it’s reorganizing your kitchen, decluttering a storage room or tackling overstuffed closets, implementing an organizational system is a vital storage hack for maximizing each area of your home. – DFW Packing Pros

    19. Install a custom space. Built-ins tailored to your needs can utilize every available sliver of space. When they’re part of the walls, you don’t lose as much valuable square footage. For example, turn a wall into an office or craft space. – SolutionsForYou, Anne Blumer

    20. Double-duty furniture. This allows you to not only maximize your physical space but also the functionality of a space. 

    • For example, my ottoman holds a dozen shoes, my mirror is hiding all of my jewelry, and my nightstand doubles as an underwear drawer. It’s all about getting creative while finding homes to store your things and the possibilities for multi-purpose furniture pieces are endless! – Sort & Sweet
    • In your living room, choose a coffee table or end table that provides storage below for books, blankets, etc. either by neatly placing the items or by utilizing baskets to conceal the items in the space.”  – Orderly by Danica, Danica Finocchario-Smith

    Emily Huddleston

    Emily is part of the Redfin content marketing team and enjoys writing about real estate trends and home improvement. Her dream home would be a charming Tudor-style house with large windows to let in lots of natural light.

    Originally posted on Redfin

  • February 20, 2020 1:51 PM | Diane Greenhalgh (Administrator)

    A number of chapter members' tips appeared in this Redfin article. Check it out.

    February 20, 2020

    Whether you’re used to living in a small space somewhere like New York, or you just recently downsized, you’ve probably quickly learned how crammed it can feel if you aren’t carefully utilizing every inch of space. But with a little purging and reorganizing, it’s easy to make your home look and feel more spacious. To help, we talked with organizing professionals to find out their best space-saving solutions. 


    1. Empty out everything first. It’s tempting to start organizing with everything still in its place, but there are always advantages to organizing by clearing the space first. You will find some things that were hidden and will be able to make better decisions about what to keep or donate. Plus, while everything’s out, it’s a great time to dust off shelves or vacuum out the closet. – Bring Peace Home, Stefanie Wyres

    2. Less is so much more, especially when it comes to the clothing inside your closet. For my Denver clients who live in smaller homes with smaller closets, a closet edit is the very first step we take! Chances are, you only like and wear about 20% of your wardrobe. After that, I highly recommend thin velvet hangers to save space inside your closet. – The Style Shop, Sandi Mele

    3. Create zones in a larger space, like a studio apartment, so it feels like each area has its own function.  Zones can be separated by a screen or curtain or by arranging furniture in groupings that section of the space.  Free-standing room screens start at about $40; a curtain, rod, and hooks can start at about $50. – Let’s Get Organized, Gayle M. Gruenberg

    4. Store your placemats and clean napkins UNDER your sofa cushions. It keeps them nice and flat and is perfect for meals on your coffee table as well. – Simplify You, C.Lee Cawley

    5. Use dual-purpose furniture. Multipurpose is the name of the game for tiny living, including furniture. Avoid large, bulky items, and instead aim for flexible, movable options, such as ottomans with storage that can be used for seating, a coffee table, or footrest. Or a folding table with wheels that can serve as a desk, dining table, or craft area. Do a search on Amazon for “folding table with wheels,” and you can see all the fun possibilities! – Priority Focused Organizing, Diane Greenhalgh

    6. Store off-season clothing in a clear container at the top of your closet or use a flat container on wheels that will fit under a bed. – Simple Solution Organizing, Adele Tusson-Gross

    7. Organize your things in a way that supports your habits. Know your routines and how you function then use that knowledge to decide which very specific things you need and where those things will live. To maximize efficiency in a tiny space, only keep exactly the things that you use in your daily life and always keep those things in the space where you use them. – Create Infinite Space, Jessica Borelli

    8. Think vertical. Go to the ceiling with storage and function. Add a wall-mounted desk with mounted shelving above. Maximize the vertical space with four or five narrow bookcases that hold labeled bins and baskets, books and notebooks, and framed photos and keepsakes at the top. – Professional-Organizer.com, Ellen Delap


    9. If you have a small kitchen, buy multi-purpose appliances. Get a blender that can also work as a food processor. If you have a steamer that you can cook rice in, there is no need to have a rice cooker as well. This way you cut down on your inventory and double your space. – Mission 2 Organize

    10. Think outside the box. When it comes to small kitchens, think “outside the box” (or kitchen). Store less-used items in a basement, garage, or even a guest broom closet. – Call 2 Sisters

    11. Invest in a good looking step ladder. This way you can make the most of all your vertical space and access it easily. Most step ladders are a bit utilitarian looking so take the time and find one that fits with your design vibe. – Merchandised Maison, Shelley Malik

    12. Organize hallway closets. Hallways are the first place in people’s homes to make an impact so this is one area that you need to maximize the usage of available space by ensuring you only keep what’s needed there. As a KonMari Consultant, I like to organize by category – if you look at what’s in your hall it’s mainly coats, shoes, and bags. However, if you just tidy the items in the hall you’ll find that similar items from around the rest of your home migrate back within a couple of days. To prevent this you need to store just the items that are used every day in the hall and find a home for the remaining items elsewhere in the house. – A Life More Organised, Sue Spencer

    13. Don’t let your interests turn into your clutter.  Like to read? Keep only the current book on your nightstand and invest in a small bookcase for the collection.  For hobbies that have parts (think quilting, LEGOs or photos) purchase multiple-use containers. They will serve you in many ways when you interested in the current project wanes. – The Zen Organizer, Regina Leeds

    14. Maximize space in a closet, cabinet, or drawer. This can have a major impact in a small house. By getting rid of stashed-away items you no longer need or want, you create space and a potential new “home” for things you treasure. – Light House Organizer, Suzanne Lindsey

    15. Reduce Paper Clutter. Think twice before printing information from the internet or from your computer. Develop effective systems for filing on the computer and have backup systems to ensure that your files are safe. – Amazing Spaces, Renée Ory

    16. Remove packaging from pantry items. Living in a small home means creating meals in a small kitchen, often with little pantry storage. To maximize space, remove as much packaging as possible from pantry items, like snacks and bars, and put them into a simple basket or container. This low-cost tip alleviates the potential for partially empty boxes taking up valuable space as food items are used up, makes it easy to see what you have on hand and not buy duplicates, and maximizes available space. – Simplify Studio, Lisa Smith


    17. Purge clothing from your closets. Every time you wear something, turn the hanger around. If by the end of the season there are hangers left without having been turned, you’ll know you haven’t worn that piece the whole season. It’ll help you weed out clothes you may not even realize you haven’t worn! – Sage Organization & Design, Jolin Polasek

    18. Use benches rather than chairs in your kitchen area. This can save a lot of space and the dining table can be used as an additional kitchen counter space. – Find Serenity Space, Jane Rice

    19. Understand our personal approach to clutter. When decluttering a small space it’s important we look at the practical aspects of the process. However, we first need to take the time to understand and overcome the thoughts, beliefs, and emotions that are behind our gathering of clutter and our inability to declutter. True freedom and peace of mind come from learning to let go of what’s weighing us down on all levels. This inevitably brings unexpected, exciting transformation to all areas of our lives as well as our wardrobes, homes, and workspaces. – Declutter Therapy, Breda Stack, Declutter Therapy Programmes and Professional Certifications

    20. Follow the 3P’s. When organizing anything, use the 3P’s of organizing: Pair like items together; Purge what you no longer love or use and Place the items in the best storage based on the frequency of use. – Enuff With The Stuff, Maria White

    21. Over-the-door storage. My favorite tip is using a Container Store Elfa door rack on the inside of closet doors. They work great inside a linen closet door and are the perfect place for a hairdryer and all sorts of toiletries. Plus, it’s not permanently attached to the door so you can take it with you when you move. – Balanced Spaces, Susan Kousek

    Over-the-door storage can also hold purses, shoes, socks, or even a hamper. Here are some products that I have strategized for various clients:

    Originally published by Redfin

NAPO - Washington DC Metro Chapter |  PO Box 7301, Arlington, VA 22207  |  info@dcorganizers.org  |  (240) 883-6434

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